Alert Sign Dear reader, online ads enable us to deliver the journalism you value. Please support us by taking a moment to turn off Adblock on

Alert Sign Dear reader, please upgrade to the latest version of IE to have a better reading experience


Those who deny women


Your Name:

Recipient Email:

-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.
-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.
Those who refute women also refute their own self and existence. One does not need to search for them as they are in such large numbers that one can just identify them with the rotting stench that they give off. The horrible smell is always there, whether they have drenched themselves in perfume or not. But despite spending so much, they continue to reek, even from their body language, and stagnant beliefs.

It doesn’t matter how much they promote their beliefs and thinking liberally; it doesn’t matter if they wear three-piece suits with ties because their trousers will still end above their ankles. It doesn’t matter because no one has ever told them anything different, because in any case, they are against learning, understanding, and thinking. It seems like they have some bizarre enmity with education, wisdom, and intellect. Their thirst for learning and intellect can either be satisfied by our maulvi hazraat, or by those self-proclaimed intellectuals who rule the media today.

But when these perfume-drenched intellectuals in colourful clothes embroidered with flowers open their mouths, rivers of wisdom and intellect begin gushing out. Our nation suffers from a famine of learning; the book and the pen were taken away from it ages ago. What little ability to think, to challenge and question that the nation still retains is slowly being eradicated. Their thirst for learning is so easily satisfied by this handful of intellectuals, who have only a couple of books to their reading credit. Neither will they read themselves, nor let others read. They consider themselves to be intellectuals merely on what they have heard and understood.

The media and the social media have produced solutions to all problems. People share and comment on things without having read them through, and without understanding them. TV channels constantly shove a microphone in a passer-by’s face, and then air whatever gibberish is said by the latter. Ignorance is being promoted with immense diligence, while the gates of learning are being closed down one by one. Those doors of education that haven’t closed yet have been given up to the care of some of the greatest ignoramuses to be found. So how can they educate the public, and why would they do that anyway?

-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.
-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.

When a daughter of this nation is honoured greatly by the entire world, for them it seems that their sense of honour was sullied. What a nation this is! A nation considers thieves, terrorists, and murderers its heroes, and worth every honour it can bestow on them. But if someone does something good, winning immense respect from all over the world for this country, then that individual is likely to be treated with scorn. The speeches and press conferences of the so-called representatives of the people are aired live by TV channels, even if they are filled with insults and lies. But if a daughter of this nation addresses the entire world on the issues of education, women’s rights, and the right of a child to education in our country, on the same platform where thieves and dictators have represented us, it is ignored by the media in favour of the latter, which it airs with pride.

The hatred and the stench that has begun to emanate from the people is due to the fact that she is our own daughter, but has been mistakenly born a woman in Pakistan. Her job is to look after the house; reading, writing, and thinking are only for the men to do. If a woman writes something, the male intellectuals are flustered, and think that it is a man writing with a female pseudonym, probably that woman’s father, husband or lover wrote it, because a woman cannot simply write like that. Similarly, they think that Malala’s speech was written by someone else because she can’t possibly write like that. Not only do those who fear light and prefer darkness think this way, but also those who like to call themselves ‘progressive’, ‘liberal’, and many other labels like these share these ideas. They are all bothered about why she equated a certain person with another in her speech. A 16-year-old who evidently has read more widely than all these commentators combined, was addressing her peers, hence her simple language. Then why must you expect her to philosophise in her speech when you are doing that job yourselves.

For those who say that she did not write the speech herself, about a week before the speech, a journalist of the Jang and Geo jirga fame and a former Jamaati described his visit to United Kingdom in his column of July 6 in Jang newspaper. In his column, he wrote about how he visited Malala and her family at their Birmingham residence, and stated that Malala had written her UN speech herself and read it out to him. He had disagreed with several points she had raised in the speech, and asked her to remove or change them. But she refused flatly and did not change anything. But our nation of habitual non-readers cannot fathom how a 16-year-old Pashtun girl from Swat could say all these things.

-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.
-Illustration by Khuda Bux Abro.

The killers who had been sent to murder her had not been sent on a whim. They are the people who are always prepared to wipe out any ray of hope that they can see. They have already extinguished so many similar flames of hope. But God has blessed not just Malala herself but also this country, this nation, and the women of this soil by keeping this particular flame alight. Malala is the voice of the women of tomorrow, who are feared by the worshippers of darkness, and always will be feared by them.

I see Pakistan’s bright future in Malala’s countenance; a future that will be in the hands of women, who are as strong as her, and think and comprehend like her, and are as genuinely patriotic as her. The country’s future will be in the hands of women who are proud to be women. Those who carry rubbish in their minds will be told by their daughters, sisters, and mothers that the future of the nation lies in the same woman who these people attempt to shroud in mounds of veils. Not only will she shine herself, but also spread the light of education across this nation that is so deprived of learning.

Read this blog in Urdu here.

Listen to this blog in Urdu:

Author Image
The author has dabbled in every form of the visual arts. An activist to the core, Abro’s work deals with social themes and issues ranging from human rights to dictatorial regimes. He is currently working for DAWN as an illustrator.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (34) Closed

suresh Jul 18, 2013 03:21pm

Respect Abro, hope God keep you safe from this curse which we call Taliban.

Talha Vaqar Jul 18, 2013 04:11pm

Extremely myopic view on the subject!

The author displays ignorance of

1) the things women already have achieved in Pakistan.

2) the enormous role women can play in society building by being good mothers.

3) the ills in society that are generated when the woman is forced to leave the home and take up employment for monetary gain. Educating ALL women to be engineers, scientists, doctors, accountants, artist, etc is tantamount to forcing them to be in the market for gainful employment and belittling the importance of a mother's/homemaker's role.

The quality on dawn continues to deteriorate due to representation of a certain mind set of the people involved. This is neither a free forum nor does it represent the voice of reason.

Feroz Jul 18, 2013 04:28pm

Excellent read ! The World will be a much better place if we allow more Malala's to sprout.

Vijay@toronto Jul 18, 2013 05:08pm

I weep for Pakistan!

dr khan Jul 18, 2013 07:11pm

i appreciate your article about Malala but try not to attack a certain group of people. " their trousers will still end above their ankles" every one with even minor knowledge of Islam knows you have to expose your ankles when you pray .

Tahir A Jul 19, 2013 12:47pm

@Talha Vaqar: Hi Talha. If " the importance of a mother's/homemaker's role" is to be judged then in your own case, the end product has failed miserably due to the narrow mindedness that you have shown in this reply.

Ajay Vikram Singh Jul 19, 2013 12:59pm

@Talha Vaqar: Why do you have to classify women only in two binary categories. Either you go out and work just to make money or you are a home-maker. first of all, Nobody can deny the importance of family life and infinite amount of work that comes along with it. secondary, Not everyone who works, work for money. You learn, study and work to express yourself. To gain a real life experience with unlimited possibilities. To satisfy your creativity intellect etc. To contribute more to the society directly. Well, there are many 'noble' reasons for people to go out, work and make their mark in the society. Apart from having a woman ruler from a Feudal, political family of pakistan, I dont see any other achievement by women of pakistan. Plz remind me!!

Qurat Jul 19, 2013 01:03pm

There're two kind of extreme categories breeding currently in our country. The rigid mulah types and the those dazzled by the West. You seem to be lurking on the later end with your malicious comments about learning from a personality and giving credibility to paper n pen only. For your information Islam was spread and glorified by living in the company of practicing Muslims and not by reading books. So next time you try to tag others as narrow-minded, first put yourself on this assessment trial and see how much LIBERAL you are.

zafarov Jul 19, 2013 01:28pm

@Talha Vaqar: 'the enormous role women can play in society building by being good mothers". An enlightened and erudite woman would make a far superior mother, not least by inculcating her sons to reject misogyny. By teaching them to respect women as equal human beings and not view them as subordinates and mere sex objects and baby making machines. That fundamental change is required to deal with the ills that you speak about. Nobody should be forced to leave the home nor should any one be forced to be confined to the home. Women just like men should have the choice and every opportunity to actualise themselves by fulfilling their potential. To deny them their basic human right is sheer tyranny..

Alam Jul 19, 2013 01:32pm

This problem with this article is that it would have sat down well with ''everyone'' had the writer given references from Quran and Hadith about women`s rights to support his argument. If he believes a certain religious mindset is incorrect he should give references from authentic islamic sources rather than using his own interllect.

Siyalkotia Jul 19, 2013 02:48pm

Islamic Republic Of Paakistan, Zindabaad. We are the purest. We are the best.

Siyalkotia Jul 19, 2013 03:14pm

@Alam: I agree. References from Quran and Hadith is a must. Common sense and rational/logical thinking has no place in Islamic Republic Of Pakistan.

zafarov Jul 19, 2013 04:04pm

@Qurat: It is sheer conceit and arrogance to assume to pass judgement on another human being's moral standing. Besides, how is possible to determine who is a "practising Muslim"? Someone who ostensibly religiously adheres to rituals? The very first word the Holy Prophet received from the Almighty was "Iqra". I haven't the slightest doubt you know exactly what that means. Thirst for knowledge and enlightenment is an innate human need. It is not the monopoly of the West or anybody else.

Ali Jul 19, 2013 04:24pm

@dr khan: Prayer does not count whether ankles are shown or not. It is in the mind and heart. It is a literalist and narrow minded type of Islam such as yours that has led our country to the mess and lack of rule of law it is in.

areluctantpakistani Jul 19, 2013 04:38pm

@Alam: The problem with this comment is that why does it see the need for this writer to quote Quran and Hadith but has no problem with the local moulvi spouting any sort of gibberish without asking the same of him.

I would advise the writer to stop shaving for a few days. His words would carry a lot more weight then. When using ones "own intellect" is automatically an inferior method, what hope do we have?

Tahir Jul 19, 2013 05:23pm

@dr khan:

That is the real purpose, don't you see. It's just another (not so cleverly disguised) attack on Islam

Alam Jul 19, 2013 06:24pm


I totally understand the frustration people have with Religious Leaders who do not check the authencity of their sources when giving speeches/fatwas, look majority of the Molvis in our mosques dont even understand the language of the Quran. But would you not agree that to refute their religious arguments the author should cite from correct islamic sources rather than his using his own logic. To argue with a scientist you need to refer to scientific journals, to argue with a doctor to have to refer to medical books, similarly if your argument is based on religious differences you should cite authentic religious sources rather than just rant and rave about people having beards.

AHA Jul 19, 2013 06:41pm

@Talha Vaqar: I find you views to be quite confused.

You rightly point out to "the things women already have achieved in Pakistan", but then also worry about "the ills in society that are generated when the woman is forced to leave the home". Not sure where YOU really stand.

AHA Jul 19, 2013 06:44pm

@Talha Vaqar: My own experience is that women who work outside play a better role. in society building by being good mothers that women who do not work outside,

Salim Akbani Jul 19, 2013 07:23pm

Why deal with facts and Science when you can pray your problems away. Birds who are born in a cage think flying is a disease.

Salim Akbani Jul 19, 2013 07:28pm

@Talha Vaqar: From your argument, Saudi Arabia should be a model society for all Muslims and the world. That country will have nothing after the oil dries up. For some people backwardness is moving forward.

Rana Usman Jul 19, 2013 07:40pm

Dear Abro Sahib..

I appreciate your write up in the favor of this iconic girl, but there are some ethics that any good writer is bound to follow while making his/her point.

You have beautifully narrated the story and at the end, successfully conveyed your thoughts, but I assure you, being this skillful in writing, you really didn't need to attack one ethnic group to make your point, as for instance, when you talk about trousers above ankles, you lost it.

Say for argument, What's wrong with trousers above ankle? Its one rule that many follow, why do we need to make dilemma out of it.

It is exactly as many Mullahs (Not Maulvis as Maulvi is respectable word) would do while making their point.

Apparently you seem to be an educated person, if you being educated would do the same to make your point, I am afraid, there wouldn't be any difference.

Rana Usman Jul 19, 2013 07:41pm

@Talha Vaqar: Well Said

Murthy Jul 19, 2013 08:52pm

For true learning to take place, one must keep one's mind open. Whatever you read or hear need not necessarily be accepted always without question. If you don't apply logic and subject some of the beliefs, however old they may be, to scientific reasoning, you are not really "educated". True education teaches people to think for themselves and look at everything objectively, as Bertrand Russell would say. Education, naturally has no place in a society, where 'interpretation' is more important than anything else.

Shamoon Jul 19, 2013 09:13pm

Powerful, accurate and bold commentary by Khuda Bux Abro. It is good to know that there are people in Pakistan who can think clearly and have the power of pen to filter the mess and present the reality as it is.

Sonal Jul 19, 2013 10:29pm

The content of this article mesmerizes me. Few other articles on the Dawn have talked about people condemning Malala. I am just amazed -- who are these people who are condemning / cynical about her? Are they normal people with sane minds? Are they educated Pakistanis, or are we talking about the Taliban here?

Even if she didn't write the speech herself, how does it matter? President Obama has a speech writer!!! We all leverage teamwork. She delivered her speech superbly, she had the courage to stand up to the Taliban after being shot in the brain, knowing fully well that she is risking her life by giving such a speech! Nothing she said was controversial - if we implemented even part of what she said the world would be a better place - so where is the issue?

As a woman, I feel extremely proud of her, even though I'm not Pakistani. I hope she will live a very long life, and I know that she will make her mark. She already has!!!

Sonal Jul 19, 2013 10:38pm

My two cents as a woman -- I think men got to think of women as equals to start with, and give us the choice of what we want to do, then the whole piece about home maker versus engineer, mother versus doctor, etc will fall into place. Why should men decide what role is appropriate for women, or how much we should study or not study at all??

We women have the ability to make sensible choices, by the way. There aren't any women Taliban, for instance :) Or not as many as men anyway!

Khalid Jul 19, 2013 11:59pm

@dr khan: In terms of relevance I believe it is almost irrelevant as to where your shalwar is because it doesn't say in Quran where your shalwar should be but what is more important is to pray. What is also very important is not to lie, cheat and hurt anyone, feed the poor, following in the foot steps of our prophet be nice to non-muslims and so on. Why do we only pay attention to irrelevant things? and forget about the more important things. Cleanliness is considered half the religion but is our Pakistan clean?. So if you are not clean and follow every single other thing in the book, we are only being half the muslim we could be. How about that?

Anshu Jul 20, 2013 12:18am

@Talha Vaqar: So your point is education and employment is sole monopoly of men?

Parvez Jul 20, 2013 12:53am

It is always a pleasure to read you. The future of Pakistan lies in education for both women and men and that can only come about if our leaders were honest and dedicated......people would call that wishful thinking.

anonymous Jul 20, 2013 07:58am

@Alam: Can you give some references from Quran and Hadith about 'women's rights'?

MS Jul 20, 2013 12:22pm

God has given us a brain. We should use it.

Siyalkotia Jul 20, 2013 12:55pm

@Vijay@toronto: Please don't weep for Pakistan. Pakistanis are self sufficient in this respect and have been weeping since 1947. And I don't see the end in sight.

maaz cheema Jul 20, 2013 02:55pm

the theme discussed in article 'to educate nation ' is our ages-old problem ,we are struggling country in present age can ensure development without putting right emphasis on education.Unfortunately ,we are much lagging behind among community of nation regarding education.The much worse is ,even being captivated in this fragile stage our leaders are still ignorant of its best advantages and a very minute share of budget is allocated to education.whereas it is right to put emphasis on education ,the wrong is to generalize the matters and blame all beard keeping Muslim on assumption of education hatter.there are only handful of mullahs now ,which are still sticky to their bigoted beliefs ;things are changing in boarder perspective.people in their own capacity give preference to educate their children ,the large responsibility comes to govt,how it directs its education policies and brings reforms and previsions in conformity to produce conducive ,constructive environment for education.