By Ayesha Bilal
At a time when the voice of all civilized and peace-loving Pakistanis has been heard for the condemnation of a cowardly attempt of assassination on a girl asking for her basic right to education, a very unsavoury picture posted by a friend on a social networking site caught my attention. For a person against the brutal killing of our country’s citizens, this picture and the message scribbled on it was sure to infuriate and wound the feelings of any balanced mind.
Malala Yousafzai, a 14-year old girl from Swat who wrote under the pen name of Gul Makai for BBC Urdu, made headlines in international media through her stirring words that demanded women’s right to education in Swat under the Taliban regime. Since then, as a young icon of peace, Malala has been nominated for various national as well as international awards. No words can suffice Malala’s valour and ambitions. As she puts it herself ‘I dreamt of a country where education would prevail’. However, as with all revolutionary ideas, Malala’s fate lurked gloomily when she was brutally shot in the head by a Taliban gunman when she was returning home from school.
In an attempt to do justice to the gallantry of this young sapling of hope, protests were held all over the country and abroad. The Lahore Press Club protest drew immense attention with its controversial and callous placards. One of the women in the protest was caught blatantly holding a placard saying ‘Drones kill so Malala can live’. Disbelief and disappointment came spontaneously. How does killing blameless civilians in the name of collateral damage equate with saving the lives of champions of peace and progress like Malala? Furthermore, can we ever justify this irrational principle by killing people of our country without having them found guilty of this crime. Who is going to pay for the lives of the little children who die every day without having ever been condemned or even mentioned in national media?
We may not be able to answer a lot of questions when it comes to an issue as controversial and baffling as the drone attacks in Pakistan. But, we can say without doubt that slaughtering our unimpeachable countrymen won’t save another Malala from becoming a figment of the past. It is time enough that we start looking for genuine solutions and stop resorting to scapegoats for easy answers to satisfy our conscience. As a blogger Raj Ali Wahid Kunwar puts it in his blog on Dawn ‘While our hearts go out to Malala and we all unite in praying for her speedy recovery, let’s not forget the toddlers bombed to shreds by drone attacks. After all they were human souls too not plastic toys.’