‘Malala’ – The Face of Global Youth

The past few days have been disturbing. News channels are filled with the news of 14-year old girl Malala’s shooting by Pakistan Taliban. Her crime: she took the stand for her and the girls’ fundamental right: education.  Her picture remains in my eyes and mind, making me realize how lucky I am that I had education and didn’t had to fight for this right.

But the harsh reality is that in a highly patriarchal and feudal society like that of Pakistan, educating girls is a challenge. It is a taboo for women are seen as inferior beings. Give them education and they will demand freedom, their rights and therefore, to keep them subjugated so that they never raise their voice ever, take away even their foremost fundamental rights – the rights that Islam itself has bestowed the very day a girl is born.

Although, children continue to be killed in drone attacks and schools are destroyed by both drones and Pakistan Taliban, Malala’s shooting has opened a Pandora’s Box. It is letting some important issues slip from the main picture that are siginifcant for they offer an insight not only of reality on the grounds, but, of the mechanisms that might be playing in the background.

1: The Timing of the Incident

Pakistan, in terms of economic, political and social context is unstable. Every other day there is news on either the social, political or economic front that ushers in a new low.  With the current government, Pakistan is widely believed to be ‘a sinking ship’ and the future prospects are gloomy. The incident has arrived at a time when American elections are looming and elections in Pakistan is also near. Further, the sentiment against the drones strikes is rising within the people. Currently, when the national government is losing popularity with the masses, the Supreme court giving verdicts against its interests, what could be done to divert the attention?

Malala’s shooting has caused outraged in Pakistan. If anything she has won the hearts of youth praying for her recovery. People are now focusing on the Malala issue and strangely, the political entanglements, the volatile issues of corruption and embezzlement all have taken a back seat.  Unfortunately, the incident has given some breathing space to the government. Yet, the state has no idea on how to deal with the economic, social and political issues of the country. They are failing to recognize that the time requires action, not contemplation. Setting of an investigation into this young girl’s shooting – who is battling for her life – will not solve anything. It is time that the government admits its failures and comes in to action to correct the imbalance setting in the society.

Interestingly, it is also a signal to people: don’t think about hope. If there is any hope, it will be extinguished. There can never be hope in this country –  a clear message that indicates that people will continue to be suppressed in all forms. The politicians in fulfilling their own agendas will never allow space for any positive aspect.

2. The Feudal-Religious Mindset

The harsh truth is that the feudal-religious mindset continues to be dominant in our society. This incident has clearly exposed the factor wide open. Honor killings and acid attacks are everyday news. Last year, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy’s film “Saving Face” – winner of Oscar award – was an insight of the status and treatment of  women in Pakistan. Ironically, this is  a country that has had a woman Prime Minister and now has a woman Foreign Minister (this is irony at its height). It shows that despite much economic development, education has clearly failed to change the mindset of the majority and of the society that still strongly clings to the perception that women don’t have any rights. The question blaring at the people; is it that education has failed us or have we failed ourselves?

Woman, in a highly patriarchal society, is still viewed as burden and an inferior being that has no soul. Despite the fact that Islam has given fundamental rights to women, starting from the very day she comes in the world, men in all their superiority and ego complex view it as a threat to their status and strength. Malala had the courage to stand against the people (sorry, I should not have used this word) cowards who openly believe that woman is the sole reason of chaos in this world. Thus, take away her rights, treat her like an animal and she will remain in control. In a male-dominated society, the fight for one’s rights means death. Many young women have lost their lives in their quest for justice and rights.  So how should this feudal-religious mindset be dealt with? How should it be eradicated?  Is there no middle path?

3. Malala – The Face of Global Youth

I strongly disagree that Malala serves as the face of Pakistani youth alone. No. Malala is the face of the global youth. This 14-year old had the courage to defy the system that denies her rights and freedom. And in the developing world, there exists a million of Malalas’  who on a daily basis are fighting this war at all levels, be it personal, societal or at national level. Malala is the face of every girl who wants her fundamental rights, dreams to have education and has aspirations to contribute to their country and society.  The only difference is such girls never make the news.  Malala made news because of the attention she already had via her anonymous BBC Blog and the Pakistani news channels who had interviewed her. What about those girls who are fighting this war every other day, in different countries? Why is it that the media does not mention such girls and young women out in the open?  Why is there a preference in the media to only cover someone who is well-known and not acknowledge the issues across the specturm? Unless, the issues is widely brought out, many young girls and women will continue to tbe the victims. Many stories will go unheard, many will not have justice.

Malala serves as a beacon of light to every girl regardless of caste, creed, race or nationality, who wants to achieve dreams and growth. She is hope. Her bravery shows that young girls and women are not weak. They are strong beyond imagination. If we have the power to create harmony, we have the strength to fight for it and for our independence.

Being a woman in today’s world is difficult. I look at her picture and ask myself: why? what did they achieve shooting this young, vibrant girl? What was her crime? To continue education? Where did we go wrong? If we are inferior beings, then why did God create us?

Despite various advances, we continue to fight for our identity, dreams and rights in multiple ways. A decade has passed, yet, woman continues to a slave to either traditions, values or customs that only hinder her growth and suppresses her character. Malala is the heroic face of young girls struggling with their battles. A thousand miles away from her, yet, I am praying for her speedy recovery and health from the bottom of my heart.

But at the same time, I ask myself: will our battles ever end?

Are we born only for suppression?

Will I continue to fight customs and traditions all my life?  How long will the war for identity go on?

Will I ever attain my freedom and rights?


State vs Justice: Revolution or Catastrophe?

“Politics: ‘Poli’ a Latin word meaning ‘many’: and ‘tics’ meaning ‘blood sucking creatures'” (Robin Williams – American Actor)  

I ask myself: Is politics a dirty world or are politicians dirty? It’s hard to say, but,  politics is not a game for everyone. It is filled with twists and mysteries that are perhaps beyond the understanding of a common man. The games turn messier when lady justice works at her end on delivering the justice and finds herself at odds with the state.

Pakistan is unstable in all aspects: be it economic, culture, social justice or political.  A ‘democratic’ government that has fueled inflation, failed to control law and order, unsuccessful in delivering its promises in times of crisis; today, slapped the nation hardest by nominating (now the Prime Minister of Pakistan) the failed Water and Electricity minister Mr Raja Pervez Ashraf as Prime Minister.

Raja Pervaz Ashraf – Picture in ‘The Telegraph UK’

The slaps have come both sides – one from the opposition – for failing to unite against the decision and one from the ruling party – for choosing a candidate who lost 7 elections, won only 2 elections (in one he served as Water and Electricity Minister), lied openly to public on resolving the issue of load shedding ( a phenomenon of electricity shortage) and lost the ministry due to incompetence of handling the water and electricity crisis in the country. At a time, when Pakistan’s economy is deteriorating by every day due to crisis in electricity, water, law and order and industrial fields, the political immaturity and dirty games are openly on display to the world.

Former Prime Minister Yosuf Raza Gilani

On the other hand, justice is a decade, old long quest. Around the world, people, communities and societies are fighting for rights and justice in one way or another. In a country like Pakistan where terms like ‘accountability’,  ‘transparency’, ‘honesty’  are stranger than any other concept,  justice is the only ray of hope.   The Supreme Court of Pakistan has endured many attacks – previous regime of Pervaiz Musharaf did away with the judges and brought his own, only later to face massive rebellion of lawyers and civil society and experience the loss of throne. The present government only brought the previous judges back when the nation came out on streets demanding the restoration of judges.  The Supreme Court started attending cases which have been extremely unpopular by the establishments. The missing persons case, Mehran Bank scandal, the NRO scandal (a hearing is scheduled for next week), the contempt of court charge against the former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and the Epherdine case on his son Ali Musa Gilani are some that rocked the nation as the court demanded accountability and investigations at the highest levels. A Pandora’s Box opened unleashing the dirtiest skeletons of the past.

Naturally, to be held accountable is hardly ever tolerated in the world of politics. To jeopardize the judiciary, the conspiracy case of Malik Riaz and Arsalan Chaudhary (son of Chief Justice of Pakistan Ifthikar Chaudhary) was brought out only to fall flat in the faces of conspirators. An institution bent on delivering justice didn’t even care about relations (oops now wasn’t that an error in calculation on the conspirators’ part). The case faltered badly as the biggest media scandal came to the forefront. The ‘Mediagate’ scandal jolted the nation as it gave the disgusting ‘behind the scenes” view of the media shows, but also,  how the present rulers and their children conspired against the judiciary. If anything, the judiciary was openly ridiculed and mocked by the very ‘well educated’ politicians – the representatives of a country.

The domestic media of Pakistan openly claims that judiciary and the state are in collision. The disqualification of former Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani is a testament. Some claim it can derail the process of democracy, while, some welcomed the move in the light of accountability. But the main question that remains to be answered is : will this collision result in revolution or catastrophe?  A nation engulfed in poverty, terrorist attacks, electricity and water crisis, political target killings and other societal crimes, will the collision lead to the final curtain call of revolution or will the system break down altogether leading to an outright civil war?

These questions are critical at a juncture when the global economy pendulum is swinging towards instability. Presently, the euro crisis continues to deteriorate. With Spain banks bailed out and the Greeks forming a new government, the future of Euro has only become highly uncertain. The US economy recovery is slow despite massive quantitative easing. Egypt political crisis and Syria’s revolt is heightening the global tensions. To add to all this, Pakistan’s political tensions with US and domestic political instability, the economical and law and order fall out , in the midst of Afghanistan’s scenario, will cause the biggest chaos on the global platform. The chaos in this region will have regional repercussions as it could spill out in regional consequences with India, Iran and other neighboring countries.

I hardly write about politics, but, today’s events struck hard. To me, the politicians of Pakistan are bloodsucking creatures that remain unsatisfied despite sucking the blood of millions of people. The craving and lust for power and money is never-ending. Despite much accumulation of wealth, their wants and desires are endless.  Perhaps, the term ‘bloodsucking creatures’ is not appropriate. These politicians are actually ‘dementors’ feeding on happiness and dreams of their own people.

With every event unfolding, the nation edges closer to a catastrophe. And if the nation descends in turmoil, then the catastrophe will shatter everything standing in its way and will leave behind the bloodiest destruction ever witnessed.

Kyrgyzstan Crisis – A Warning For Many

Inflation, corruption, unemployment, fraud and chronic instability in any country proves to be a deadly combination in terms of political, economical and regional environment. The combination above creates a fireball, which unleashed, can burn everything in its path and spare no one. That’s exactly what the world saw as 5.3 million people of a small country Kyrgyzstan did away with the government and its president for good.  The bloody uprising which left 75 people dead and more than a 100 people injured, is a testimony to the fact that when the population goes beyond a certain threshold, it  has the immense power to rip apart the very system that was created by them  and for them  for good.

The looting exposed the luxurious lifestyle of a president of a country whose third of population was living below the poverty line.  The fraud has been to such an extent that the financial system has been frozen as the political leaders have literally emptied the coffers of the state.  Although the situation is worrisome, but it serves as a powerful reminder to every country; when the people of a country rise, no authority can survive its wrath and no one has the ability to suppress the voice of the people.

The Kyrgyzstan crisis is also a warning for many developing countries that are facing political and economical hardships.  One such country that needs to take heed from this incident is Pakistan for it faces much similarities.

The Musharraf era that began on a good note, ended disastrously on the accounts of suspending the Supreme court and the Parliament in one-act, the shooting incident of Laal Masjid and the involvement of army against terrorism in the tribal areas. The fire of terrorism continued in the democratic setup as it spread throughout the country. The suicide attacks  are on the rise in every major city. The present political setup is another blow for the economy, as now and then, political tensions and disputes occur threatening the very fragility of the democratic setup.

In addition to sensitive political state is the looming economic crisis, which is of immense concern. The resignation of finance minister Mr Shaukat Tarin sent a signal that not all is well with the country’s economy and the situation is deteriorating at a rapid pace. The budget deficit and government spending has reached epic proportions. The power shortages in the country has forced various businesses to shut down their operations within Pakistan and move elsewhere. The war on terrorism has made the economy vulnerable to global and regional shocks. Corruption is well-known and is deeply rooted in every single institution. This has raised critical concerns over the use of aid received from the developed countries as there is lack of accountability and transparency.  Many believe that the current situation is a repetition of period under Zia’s rule  as that era saw massive aid influx due to the battle in Afghanistan and in reality no development within Pakistan ever took place.

The widening income equalities, the rising costs of living as oil prices increase and utilities’ costs surge, the acute food shortages as last year with flour and sugar and the excessive power shortages have brought the public to the threshold.  Any further shocks or instability has the potential to recreate the scenario of Kyrgyzstan in Pakistan on a grand scale with unimaginable violence and chaos.

It about time that the political leaders of Pakistan clean up their acts and get together to uplift the economy from a turmoil.  Failure to do so will unleash the fireball that will spare no one and history might stand to witness the bloodiest chaos ever to take place in a country.