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Don’t let Malala down, stand up and be counted

July 15, 2013

How many times, O the people of Pakistan have you seen representatives from around the world giving a standing ovation to a Pakistani? The UN Secretary General wiping off his tears while listening to a Pakistani? Young men and women from many nations vying with each other to get closer to a Pakistani?

Perhaps never.

So be happy that you have a daughter like Malala. Be proud of this little girl who brought you so much positive attention at a time when the whole world looks at you with fear and suspicion.

Bow down in gratitude and wipe not your tears for they will wash away your sins. And you may have committed many. But your greatest sin is silence.

You are silent when your priests incite violence, when they urge you to kill those who disagree with them. Although you too disagree with them, you do not speak up. Worse still, when they ask you to empty your pockets for hired killers, you do so without thinking of the consequences.

You are silent when suicide bombers kill innocent people in your streets. When extremists bomb mosques and kill worshippers. When they raid schools and murder little children.

One of them put a bullet through Malala’s head because she, unlike you, refused to be silent when they tried to snatch her books.

She spoke up. She stood for her rights. And she defied them by going to school, ignoring their threats.

And now that the entire world is answering her call, praising her defiance, embracing her as a beacon of hope against the forces of darkness, many among you are jealous of her.

Some curse her. Others call her an American agent and some say she is an enemy of Islam.

Yes, most of you do not endorse such views. You do recognise what she has done for you by defying the forces of evil. Yet, you are silent; not because you are afraid.

You cannot be afraid because you are the overwhelming majority. If you just come out in the streets to show that you reject these forces of darkness, they will run away.

You are so many that if you just allow yourself to be counted, you can do anything and everything you want.

But you do not bother. You are too busy with your daily chores. You have been imprisoned. Enslaved. You cannot break out of your prison. You cannot break your chains.

So you prefer to be silent.

You are silent but your enemies are not.

Soon after Malala spoke at the United Nations, they invaded her Facebook, posting crude remarks on her page, calling her an “American agent.”

Can a million people visit her page tomorrow and show the whole world that there are people in Pakistan who love this girl? Can you let these evil-doers know how wrong they are? Can you stand up for the bravest girl you have had in generations?

And there are others among you who say that many others also have spoken against militants, even sacrificed their lives fighting the terrorists, why are they forgotten?

Well, if you really care for those who sacrificed their lives in the fight against militancy, then join Malala. Do not oppose her. It will hurt your cause. Do not be jealous. Jealousy is negative; it sometimes causes more damaging than the enemy’s gun.

And here is a little story to cheer you up:

A peasant was chopping timber in the woods. Another peasant was watching him; comfortably seated on a fallen tree trunk. The man cutting the timber was using a heavy axe, lifting it above his head and hitting the wood with effort.

Every time, the chopper hit the wood, the second peasant cried out: “Wow, well done.”

When the woodcutter finished his work, the peasant went to him and demanded his fee.

“For what?” asked the wood chopper.

“For cheering you up,” said the peasant.

The woodcutter did not agree that the peasant needs to be paid for cheerleading.

The dispute led them to Mullah Nasruddin.

Nasruddin listened to both sides and then took out a purse.

He took some coins out of the purse and dropped them one at a time on his desk. The coins tinkled and clinked onto the wood desk.

“Did you hear the sound of the coins jingling?” he asked the cheerleader.

“Yes, I did,” he replied.

“Then you have received your rightful payment. You supplied the sound and you got paid in sound.”

So be the chopper, not just a cheerleader.