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Skewed narrative


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LET’S get one thing straight about the attack on Malala Yousufzai. It is not comparable to drone strikes. It is not comparable to the Lal Masjid operation. Nor is it likely to be comparable to other incidents the religious right might use to try to divert attention from the particular evil of this one. Because here is what this incident was: a deliberate attack on a specific teenage girl in retaliation for her activism for girls’ education and opposition to Islamist militancy, a harmless, non-violent cause the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan happen not to like. Drone strikes may be unacceptable in their current form and end up killing innocent children, but doing so is not their intent. The figure of 1,200 women killed in the Lal Masjid operation is highly dubious; this paper’s investigations had indicated that most women left the compound during the amnesty granted before the operation. And yet moves are afoot to position these events as comparisons in an attempt to dampen the widespread recognition of the Malala incident for what it was — the targeting of an innocent girl by an outfit that does not believe in the most basic of human rights and is prepared to attack even children to promote its regressive ideas. These attempts to fudge the truth and make false comparisons indicate that the religious right feels threatened by the public outcry against Malala’s attackers. But it is also a chilling reminder of the degree to which most right-wing groups harbour sympathies for violent extremism. The Difa-i-Pakistan Council is an obvious member of this club, but even leaders of the more mainstream JUI-F and JI have questioned the focus on Malala, compared the attack to other events or dismissed its real implications by declaring it a conspiracy to trigger an operation in North Waziristan. And while secular political parties have not been as quick to do so, most have shied away from naming the TTP and demonstrating the single-mindedness that is needed to dismantle that organisation’s ability to terrorise Pakistan.

Battle lines have been drawn across the political landscape, and few groups are taking as courageous and clear a stand as is needed. The reaction in the first couple of days after Malala was attacked had inspired hope that a political consensus against the TTP, not just violent extremism, might be formed. But that has not taken place, despite the public’s demonstrated anger at the terrorist group. And as long as political forces hold back, the military will have a reason to hold back too. The moment Pakistan should not have wasted is being squandered before our very eyes.


Comments (15) Closed

Aziz Oct 16, 2012 07:23am
Sir, Your above editorial states: 'Drone strikes may be unacceptable in their current form and end up killing innocent children, but doing so is not their intent.' How did you being a newspaper establish what the intent is when both parties are faceless and nameless and death and destruction is widespread? I fully agree with you that there should be no 'attempts to fudge the truth and make false comparisons'. Your editorial turns a humanitarian issue in to a war when you say 'battle lines have been drawn across the political landscape.' Pakistan's parliament has and international bodies like 'Reprieve' have spoken out against it. We must condemn the TTP with all the energy we have but at the same time find out who these odious people are? Who is giving them guns and funds? and What are their short and long term objectives?. Each and every military action must be approved by the political forces in the nation's parliament. The people of Pakistan, have a right to demand that because they and their coming generations would have to bear the costs.
akhter husain Oct 16, 2012 07:24pm
The editorial is very specific and clear about the political leadership that is trying to confuse shooting at Malala with drone attacks.No pakistani accept killing of innocent women,chilren and civilians who are not even sypathsers of TTP.By American drone attacks.I wonder if these blind and deaf people will ever listen to any sane advice.It is better to leave them alone,,ignoring them might work.
arthur zobo Oct 16, 2012 08:44am
This is no time for a debate on this issue.Who are the Talibans or Al Qaeda even a ten year old child knows____ here it is equating the two,that the apologists for these militants are doing, that need to be tackled.As rightly pointed out the battle lines have been drawn___ a pity they were not drawn 20years back__The Malala phenomenon has turned the tide in this battle.Take your pick its either Malala's Pakistan or it is the Taliban version of this blighted land,you cannot paddle two canoes.The outrage is universal and only the most pitiless human being would equate Drones with Malala..The damage from drone attacks is collateral whereas the attack on civilians,military,women children,minorities and in fact the vision of Pakistan is premeditated murder.You exaggerate the nos when it suits you but fail to quote a figure where these beasts are involved.Do we need to be so grisly as to remind the world that thousands of innocent lives have been lost in a war that we still too chicken heart ed to own as our own war.Yes, Malala has turned the tide in this war and every one that has a heart and in that heart feelings for human kind has been affected.Let it not go down in history that Malala,a teenager,was the only Man amongst us!
Iftikhar Husain Oct 16, 2012 10:47am
It is rightly pointed out in the editorial that they are trying to divert attention from the main issue of educating girls and Malala stood for this right.
M. Asghar Oct 16, 2012 09:18am
It seems that all the civilian and defence forces of the country have been frozen into an inacceptable inaction in the face of the disruptive forces that are trying to tear apart the fabric of the national coherence. It cannot continue like and the only way to move the things seems to be through the legal hammering by the Apex Court's action along with the civil society.
aaa Oct 16, 2012 03:46pm
Noone is trying to divert anything from malala but at the same time quickness of responses on malala from so many countries in the world has given everyone understanding that other issues could also have received same degree of importance and quickness in response. Its an observation noone has missed. It is unmissable.
Tajammal Waheed Oct 16, 2012 03:33pm
Among other religious parties, we have Tablighi Jamaat having millions of followers. They claim to be advocates of peace and tolerance. Why don't they speak up against this barbaric act? What kind of Islam are they preaching? It is time Raiwind plays an active role.
malik Oct 16, 2012 04:36am
Let us send all these mullas along with PTI to Afghanistan so they can do jihad and leave us alone. Also take TTP with you and their sympathizers.
Anjum Hameed Oct 16, 2012 05:50am
Death to the Taliban as they wish death for won't print this..too scared the cowards will bomb your offices!..wake up!..
YesIAmALiberalMuslim Oct 17, 2012 02:53am
No IFs and No Buts!!! Taliban must go now. At all cost. And their sympathizers should go down too. It is time for a civil war now and let us deal with the monster and its supporters. Let us shed our cloak of munafiqaat and apologies and let us come out in this fight. Fight to save our country and our future. And the least that I can do is to condemn these people (and their sympathizers posting comments here) on these forums.
dr aq khan Oct 16, 2012 10:18pm
So you want for Afghans what you don,t want for yourself. Shame.
Fazil Oct 16, 2012 07:05pm
I agree, the progressive forces (civil, political, religious and military) are not being bold enough to leverage the Malala's incident (I pray she gets well soon!) to build a national consensus agaisnt the retrograde forces in Pakistan. There were some timid attempts, but this is a golden opportunity to stand up and be counted!
atis Oct 17, 2012 01:30am
A very correct and timely assesment of the unfortunate situation
Kesar Oct 16, 2012 09:04am
Thank you for articulating the feelings of many decent Pakistanis.
Cyrus Howell Oct 16, 2012 10:10am
"Any man who has once proclaimed violence as his method is inevitably forced to take the lie as his principle." -- Alexander Solzhenitsyn