Monday, July 15, 2013

Pakistani Government and Top Politicians Ignore Malala Day

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other top politicians in Pakistan reacted negatively or buried their heads in the sand as the world greeted Malala Yousufzai's powerful speech on Friday, July 12, 2013, her 16th birthday, declared by the United Nations as Malala Day. In her speech, Malala said, "I am not against anyone. Neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorists group. I am here to speak up for the right of education of every child. I want education for the sons and the daughters of all the extremists especially the Taliban. I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me. I would not shoot him. This is the compassion that I have learnt from Muhammad-the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha."

The only top politician who broke  this conspicuous silence more than 24 hours after Malala's UN speech was Imran Khan who tweeted “Malala’s courage and commitment to the cause of education, especially girls, is admirable” on Saturday evening.

However, the PTI-led government of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa, the home of Malala Yousufzai and the place where she was shot in the head by the Taliban, still remained indifferent.

In Pakistan's largest province of Punjab, a tweet from Chief Minister Shehbaz Sharif  (Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's brother and closest adviser) said Malala’s speech was for "global consumption".  He was criticized for the tweet which he later deleted.

Pakistani civil society did try to partially fill the vacuum left by organizing events to celebrate Malala Day in major urban centers like Karachi and Lahore. In KPK, the province most affected by terrorism and gender bias in education,  ANP was the only political party that held ceremonies in Peshawar and in Malala’s hometown, Mingora, to mark the day. Malala was shot when ANP was in power, but it defended the teen and never showed reluctance in taking on the Taliban.

The vacuum left by the top political leadership of Pakistan was unfortunately filled by the Taliban sympathizers who spun various conspiracy theories to blame foreigners, particularly the West,  for all of Pakistan's problems. While she was still speaking at the U.N., her detractors in Pakistani social media  were denouncing her as a “CIA agent" or claiming that her wounds had been “faked.” There were those who said she had not been hurt at all, while others were suspicious of her global fame. The messages were in the thousands.

Malala Day was a missed opportunity for Pakistani leaders to focus the attention of the people of Pakistan on two very important issues they face: the extremely serious threat of terrorism and the denial of education to girls in the country, particularly in western provinces of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa ruled by Imran Khan's Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf and Balochistan ruled by Nawaz Sharif's PML(N).

It's hard to explain the behavior of Pakistan's ruling politicians. They are  failing to condemn the Taliban for the brutal slaughter of innocent civilians. Their silence is being interpreted as their abject weakness and extreme fear of the terrorists.  This is creating even more space for the Taliban and their sympathizers to continue to challenge the writ of the Pakistani state.

It's hard to imagine how the cowardly leaders of Pakistan can solve many of the serious problems, including crises such as energy shortages and economic stagnation, if they lack the basic courage to speak out against the terrorists who are continuing their daily campaign of murder and mayhem unhindered by the Pakistani state.

Lack of real leadership coupled with growing sense of denial makes it difficult for Pakistan to confront its enemies at home. While Nawaz Sharif's government continues to harp on peace talks, the Taliban have intensified their campaign of terror. In the few weeks Sharif has been in office, 32 terrorist attacks have claimed over 250 lives. The only way to begin to stop it is for Pakistanis to see beyond the conspiracy theories. It is impossible to solve a problem that is not even openly and fully acknowledged.

Here's a video of Malala's UN Speech on Friday, July 12, 2013:

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Nawaz Sharif's Silence on Terrorism

Respecting Huqooq-ul-Ibad in Ramadan

Does Nawaz Sharif Have an Anti-Terrorism Strategy?

Malala Moment: Profiles in Courage?

Imran Khan Draws 500 Pakistani-Americans in Silicon Valley


Sham said...

I have nothing against Malala personally, but she is being used just like Mukhtaran bai to ridicule Pakistan.

After all, thousands of Karachi's Shia students as well as Sunni students of Karachi, have been killed by Punjabi and Pathan Taliban and no Punjabi, Imran, Nawaz, and Zardari including, has spoken up about the slaughter.

Therefore, I am not surprised that at least MQM did not speak, which it should not have.

Just because UN says Malala has a Malala day does not mean Malala means anyting to Pakistan.

Riaz Haq said...

Shams: "I have nothing against Malala personally, but she is being used just like Mukhtaran bai to ridicule Pakistan...."

You need to a put a human face on the unfolding tragedy in Pakistan...I see Malala's face as that face.

A teenage schoolgirl going to school targeted by the Taliban thugs helps highlight the immense atrocities going on in Pakistan and how its leadership continues to fail its people in a big way.

As to Altaf Husain, he is himself a thug and a criminal who belongs in jail along with his other MQM buddies

Right said...

She brought bad press, and I really don't see any benefit that she brought to her own nation. Advertising how bad your country and society is to the world seldom will ever bring the prosperity that the nation is hoping for.

Riaz Haq said...

Right: "She brought bad press, and I really don't see any benefit that she brought to her own nation. Advertising how bad your country and society is to the world seldom will ever bring the prosperity that the nation is hoping for."

Blaming the victim and hiding the problem only makes the problem worse.

Allowing the Taliban to get away with murder has made the situation far worse than it would have if they had been stopped before they killed over 50,000 innocent people in Pakistan.

Ignoring the problem as Nawaz and Imran and their supporters are doing will result in more tragedies.

While Nawaz Shari's government continues to harp on peace talks, the Taliban have intensified their campaign of terror. In the few weeks Sharif has been in office, 32 terrorist attacks have claimed over 250 lives. The only way to begin to stop it is for Pakistanis to see beyond the conspiracy theories. It is impossible to solve a problem that is not even openly and fully acknowledged.

Hopewins said...

^^RH: "As to Altaf Husain, he is himself a thug and a criminal who belongs in jail along with his other MQM buddies"

And Zardari? And the Sharifs? They are all thugs, my friend. You are being led by the nose by the media as if you were a sacrificial cow.

Anonymous said...

WHY has Malala Yousufzai’s speech at the UN on July 12, her 16th birthday, created such admiration all over the world, only to be met with a nasty backlash against the young education activist in Pakistan?

Anonymous said...

She brought bad press, and I really don't see any benefit that she brought to her own nation???

She's like all those rape victims who bring dishonor to the family, innit?

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an interesting Op Ed by a Pakistani published in Washington Post:

SIALKOT, Pakistan — To the rest of the world, Malala Yousafzai is a hero, but to many if not most of our fellow Pakistanis, she is the West’s poster child, and someone who is getting far too much attention.
You’d think that being shot by the Taliban for speaking out for the right of all girls to go to school would make her as celebrated here as in New York, where on her 16th birthday last week, she spoke at the U.N. Youth Assembly. “Malala Day,” they called it.
But there are no such days here, and it is so disheartening to see this girl who has so much passion for Pakistan being treated so harshly in the country she loves. Over and over, we hear speeches that begin, “I support Malala and the right to education for all, but…”
This but disgusts me.
Nearly 66 years after independence from the British, we still haven’t managed to decolonize ourselves, and so still have an angry, defensive attitude toward the West. Which is why, the moment the West applauded Malala, we forgot all she’d done for us and focused only on the West’s hypocrisy.
Yes, it is hypocritical of the West, especially the United States, to celebrate one girl when they are directly responsible for depriving millions of girls of basic human rights in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen and Pakistan.
How so? Much of the American public sees civilian victims of drone strikes and other military intervention as collateral damage. And yes, there is something of the white savior’s complex in the way the Western media have reported Malala’s story; by glorifying her, they also use her as an excuse to justify drone strikes and aggression against Taliban.
Still, there are two major problems with this whole defensive approach. First, it puts the entire blame for the Taliban’s hostility on the West. It is very convenient to say that they are a product of U.S. policies in the 1980s, but the fact is that although the funding was mostly American, the Taliban were supported by Saudi Arabia and trained by the Pakistani army.
They question why Malala’s friends, Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz, who were shot along with Malala, are not celebrated in the same way. What we forget is that Malala’s achievement was not being shot, or even for surviving the attack. She is celebrated for her passion for education — a cause she has been advocating since the age of eleven.
She is rightly celebrated for daring to stand up for her rights and unyieldingly doing so even after an assassination attempt. Malala is not merely the West’s tool, whose aim is to promote drone strikes. She has her own independent identity as a young, fearless, indigenous activist whom we ourselves thwart when we focus too much on her shooting and not enough on the reason behind it.
This summer, on break from the college I attend in the United States, I’m back in Pakistan and working in an underserved public high school for girls. The passion and eagerness to learn that shines in their eyes has convinced me that they are all Malalas, who don’t need to be saved by anyone.
The eagerness to serve them, and Pakistan, is what Malala and I have in common. When people belittle her, they undermine every girl who aspires to a quality education. Yes, we are all Malala — and we are sick of whining victimhood.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Reuters' report of a planned documentary on Malala Yousufzai:

Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani girl who was shot in the head and neck by the Taliban last year for demanding education for girls, will be the subject of a documentary film, its producers said on Tuesday.

Davis Guggenheim, who won an Oscar for the 2006 environmental documentary "An Inconvenient Truth," starring former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, will direct the yet-to-be-titled documentary that is slated to be released in late 2014.

The film will follow Yousafzai as she campaigns for the right of children to education, said producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, who also produced the 2007 Afghan drama, "The Kite Runner."

Yousafzai was targeted for killing by the Islamist Taliban in October last year because of her campaign against the group's efforts to deny women education.

She not only survived the attack, but recovered to the extent that she celebrated her 16th birthday last week with a passionate speech at the United Nations in New York.

"There are few stories Laurie and I have ever come across that are as compelling, urgent or important as the real-life struggle of Malala and her father Ziauddin on behalf of universal education for children," Parkes said in a statement.

The teenager was treated in Pakistan before the United Arab Emirates provided an air ambulance to fly her to Britain, where doctors mended parts of her skull with a titanium plate.

Unable to return safely to Pakistan, Yousafzai enrolled in a school in Birmingham, England in March.

"Let us pick up our books and pens," she said in her U.N. speech. "They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution."

The film will be funded by Image Nation Abu Dhabi, a subsidiary of government-owned Abu Dhabi Media, which is based in the capital of the United Arab Emirates.

Riaz Haq said...

Al Qaeda and Taliban sympathizers are carrying out a campaign to malign Malala as "US agent" while praising Aafia Siddiqui as a "hero".

This is a nonsensical comparison....comparing an inncocent teenage Pakistani girl, a victim of well-documented Taliban violence in Pakistan and a passionate advocate for girls' education, with someone like Aafia Siddiqui whose uncle and husband have both confirmed she was involved with Jihadi groups and intelligence agencies. Aafia's husband said in an interview that she pushed him to quit his practice as a doctor in America and join Jihad in Afghanistan.

Her uncle Shamsul Hasan Farooqi told BBC she asked him to use his contacts in Afghanistan to put her in touch with the Afghan Taliban.

Aafia's husband Dr Amjad sought the help of the police and government officials to find his children. “I was aware of Aafia’s violent personality and extremist views and suspected her involvement in Jihadi activities. My fear later proved to be true when during Uzair Paracha’s trial in the US in 2004, the real purpose of Aafia’s trip to the US (between December 23, 2002 and January 3, 2003) was revealed.”

Elaborating, Dr Amjad disclosed that he later learnt from media reports that Aafia’s family claimed she made this trip to the US for job interviews in December at a time when universities were closed for winter holidays. “I also found it very odd that on the one hand Aafia insisted on leaving the US after September 11, 2001, claiming the country was unsafe for us and our children because the US government was abducting Muslim children, and on the other hand took the risk of travelling to that country again without fearing that she may be captured and may never see our children again.”

Riaz Haq said...

The malicious campaign against Malala just shows how scared the Taliban and their sympathizers are of a 16-year old schoolgirl.

From TTP's Adnan Rasheed's letter, it now seems that even the Taliban now realize what a stupid mistake it was to try and kill a little schoolgirl in Swat...a huge strategic mistake that turned Malala into an international icon of resistance against the forces of backwardness and darkness suppressing girls education in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court rejected a plea to hear arguments against drone strikes. Why? Because SC knows what every sane analyst in Pakistan knows: Drones strike are currently the only effective tool against the TTP. Gen Ghayur Mehmood, former Pak commander in FATA has confirmed it, and informed journalists like Saleem Safi confirmed it too.

In a rare public statement on the effectiveness of US drone campaign in FATA, General Officer Commanding 7-Division Maj-Gen Ghayur Mehmood serving in Waziristan in 2011 said: "Yes there are a few civilian casualties in such precision strikes, but a majority of those eliminated are terrorists, including foreign terrorist elements.” In addition, Maj-Gen Ghayur, who led Pakistani troops in North Waziristan at the time, also said that the drone attacks had negative fallout, scaring the local population and causing their migration to other places. Gen Ghayur said the drone attacks also had social and political repercussions and law-enforcement agencies often felt the heat.

1. TTP deliberately surround themselves with innocent women and children. 2. Ordinary people of FATA, particular North Waziristan, feel their homes have been taken over by the TTP criminal gangs and they support anything, including drone strikes, to rid themselves of the Taliban.

Pak leaders need to start by acknowledging the truth abt drone strikes and then provide some leadership rather than leave the vacuum to be filled by Taliban sympathizers....

Suhail said...

One of the better writings on the subject, possibly the point Shams wants to convey but written here articulately:

Malala Yousafzai and the White Saviour Complex

When Malala Yusufzai was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen simply because she wanted to gain an education it sent shockwaves around the world.

Straight away the Western media took up the issue. Western politicians spoke out and soon she found herself in the UK. The way in which the West reacted did make me question the reasons and motives behind why Malala's case was taken up and not so many others.

There is no justifying the brutal actions of the Taliban or the denial of the universal right to education, however there is a deeper more historic narrative that is taking place here.

This is a story of a native girl being saved by the white man. Flown to the UK, the Western world can feel good about itself as they save the native woman from the savage men of her home nation. It is a historic racist narrative that has been institutionalised. Journalists and politicians were falling over themselves to report and comment on the case. The story of an innocent brown child that was shot by savages for demanding an education and along comes the knight in shining armour to save her.

The actions of the West, the bombings, the occupations the wars all seem justified now, "see, we told you, this is why we intervene to save the natives."

The truth is that there are hundreds and thousands of other Malalas. They come from Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and other places in the world. Many are victims of the West, but we conveniently forget about those as Western journalists and politicians fall over themselves to appease their white-middle class guilt also known as the white man's burden....

Riaz Haq said...

Suhail: "Malala Yousafzai and the White Saviour Complex"

The natives, including Pakistani leadership, create space for the "white man" to play the savior by failing to act to stop brutality in their own homes.

The total inaction by Pakistani leaders in the face of mounting casualties inflicted by the terrorists on their citizens is a case in point.

So what do the Pakistani leaders do? They leave the field wide open for the Taliban sympathizers to point fingers elsewhere to avoid accountability for their ow failures.

Shams said...

Now you raise the White-man vs. Islamic Countries issue, which is exactly what I had said was behind Malala being paraded around in the UN building.

New issue, new war.

Do you know that Susan Rice told Egypt's Morsi to get the f--- out of Egyptian president-ship in "one hour" or else. Morsi called it a bluff, since he had just appointed his own men in Egyptian army.

Bad call. One hour later, Egyptian military kicked him out.

The Americans are unable to do the same in Iran, because Iranians have weaponized themselves to the bone. The Iranians are rigid in their religion and ethics, Israel wants to bomb them, Europe wants to bomb them, and the US wants to bomb them.

The issue is not the space provided by the Muslim countries. The issue is that Muslim countries are not well weaponized.

Riaz Haq said...

Shams: "The issue is not the space provided by the Muslim countries. The issue is that Muslim countries are not well weaponized."

If weapons alone made a difference, the Soviet Union would remain a dominant force.

It is the West's, particularly America's, soft power that gives them hegemony over the affairs of the world.

America's soft power stems from international dominance of American media and entertainment, as well as its economic muscle.

The US brands, such as Coke, Pepsi, McDonald's, Google, Facebook, Intel, Microsoft, IBM, etc. rule the world.

The US is the world's largest economy and the biggest trading partner of most of the big trading nations.

The US universities dominate the top rankings, Nobel prizes, patent filings, research publications, etc etc.

The US is the architect of the international diplomatic, financial and trade system which gives it great influence at the UN Security Council, the World Bank, the IMF, and the World Trade Organization. The US currency is the principal trade and reserve currency of the world.

As to your bragging about Iran, do you know that Iran's economy is among the fastest shrinking economies along with North Korea's?

Do you know how badly the Iranian currency has fallen and continues to fall?

Iran is in serious trouble because of tightening of US sanctions.

Iran is in danger of becoming a basket case if it persists in defying the US and its allies.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an open letter in The Guardian from Pakistani writer Mohammad Hanif addressed to TTP leader Adnan Rasheed:

Dear Adnan Rasheed,

I am writing to you in my personal capacity. This may not be the opinion of the people of Pakistan or the policy of the government, but I write to thank you in response to the generous letter you have written to Malala Yousafzai. Thanks for owning up that your comrades tried to kill her by shooting her in the head. Many of your well-wishers in Pakistan had been claiming the Taliban wouldn't attack a minor girl. They were of the opinion that Malala had shot herself in order to become a celebrity and get a UK visa. Women, as we know, will go to any lengths to get what they want. So thanks for saying that a 14-year-old girl was the Taliban's foe. And if she rolls out the old cliche that the pen is mightier than sword, she must face the sword and find it for herself.

Like you, there are others who are still not sure whether it was "Islamically correct or wrong", or whether she deserved to be "killed or not", but then you go on to suggest that we leave it to Allah.

There are a lot of people in Pakistan, some of them not even Muslims, who, when faced with difficult choices or everyday hardships, say let's leave it to Allah. Sometimes it's the only solace for the helpless. But most people don't say leave it to Allah after shooting a kid in the face. The whole point of leaving it to Allah is that He is a better judge than any human being, and there are matters that are beyond our comprehension – maybe even beyond your favourite writer Bertrand Russell's comprehension.

Allow me to make another small theological point – again about girls. Before the advent of Islam, before the prophet gave us the holy book that you want Malala to learn again, in the times we call jahilia, people used to bury their newborn daughters. They probably found them annoying and thought it better to get rid of them before they learned to speak. We are told Islam came to put an end to such horrendous practices. If 1,400 years later, we have to shoot girls in the head in an attempt to shut them up, someone like Russell might say we haven't made much progress.

Like you, I did a bit of research in Malala's hometown in Swat valley, and I remember a wise journalist warning your commanders that the Taliban might get away with slitting people's throats in public squares but not to try shutting down the girls' school. The government practically handed over the valley to your comrades, but their rule didn't even last for a few weeks because they ordered all women to stay home.

There was only one lesson to be learned: you can fight the Pakistani army; you can try and almost kill Pakistan's commander-in-chief, as you so heroically did; you might wage a glorious jihad against brutal imperial forces. But you can't pick a fight with the working women in your neighbourhood and hope to win. Those women may never get an audience at the UN but everyone – from cotton picker to bank teller – cannot be asked to shut up and stay home, for the simple reason that they won't.

It has also been suggested that your letter represents the mainstream opinion in Pakistan. But don't fall for this praise. You might think that a lot of people support your just fight, but there is a part of them that worries whether their girl will get the grades to get into a good university. And if you tell them there is a contradiction there, they might tell you to leave it to Allah...

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a NY Times story illustrating how angry anti-US Pakistanis are shooting themselves in the foot:

Usman, who limps on a leg bowed by the polio he caught as a child, made sure that his first three children were protected from the disease, but he turned away vaccinators when his youngest was born.

He was furious that the Central Intelligence Agency, in its hunt for Osama bin Laden, had staged a fake vaccination campaign, and infuriated by American drone strikes, one of which, he said, had struck the son of a man he knew, blowing off his head. He had come to see the war on polio, the longest, most expensive disease eradication effort in history, as a Western plot.

In January, his 2-year-old son, Musharaf, became the first child worldwide to be crippled by polio this year.

“I know now I made a mistake,” said Usman, 32, who, like many in his Pashtun tribe, uses only one name. “But you Americans have caused pain in my community. Americans pay for the polio campaign, and that’s good. But you abused a humanitarian mission for a military purpose.”

Anger like his over American foreign policy has led to a disastrous setback for the global effort against polio. In December, nine vaccinators were shot dead here, and two Taliban commanders banned vaccination in their areas, saying the vaccinations could resume only if drone strikes ended. In January, 10 vaccinators were killed in Nigeria’s Muslim-dominated north.

Since then, there have been isolated killings — of an activist, a police officer and vaccinators — each of which has temporarily halted the campaign....

And here's PTI's chief minister Pervez Khattak saying "our war is not against the Taliban. We say to Taliban this is your province and your country. We want to talk with them."

Riaz Haq said...

Here's an ET report on allocation of UN's Malala Fund for Pakistan:

Up to 70 per cent of the $10 million ‘Malala Fund for Girl’s Right to Education’ throughout the world and Pakistan, announced by President Asif Ali Zardari in December 2012, will be used in Pakistan, whereas the remainder is earmarked for Afghanistan. With the support of the international community, Pakistan and Unesco signed the historic memorandum of understanding (MoU) to establish this fund with $10 million as seed money.
Qian Tang, assistant secretary general (education) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) met Minister of State for Education, Trainings and Standards in Higher Education Balighur Rehman on Monday and discussed the modalities for the operationalisation of the fund.
The MoU was signed earlier between the then education minister Sheikh Waqas Akram and Unesco director general Irina Bokova at the UN’s Paris headquarters.
The Malala fund will be disbursed in two categories: special fund and fund in trust. The special fund of $7 million will be used in Pakistan and the remainder $3 million will be used by Unesco in Afghanistan under the fund in trust category.
80 per cent of the special fund in Pakistan would be used for formal education whereas the remainder will be used to support non formal education like Basic Education Community Schools and National Commission for Human Development....

Riaz Haq said...

Former Iranian president Rafsanjani says "we can't stay angry with the world", according to Washington Post:

TEHRAN, Iran — An influential Iranian ex-president is calling for deep changes in the country’s foreign policy, saying Iran can no longer remain “angry with the world.”

The statement by Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani is an unusually pointed criticism of the combative style of outgoing President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose critics say has internationally isolated Iran.

Rafsanjani made the remarks during a meeting with university teachers in Tehran that was posted on his website,, on Monday.

His ally Hasan Rouhani won a landslide victory in June 14 presidential election, and will be sworn in Aug. 4, replacing Ahmadinejad.

Rouhani has pledged to follow a “path of moderation” and interaction with the outside world, reviving hopes for easing of tensions with the West.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's a Daily Times report on efforts to counter extremism in Pakistan:

The Centre for Pakistan and Gulf Studies (CPGS), Islamabad, has recently launched a mega project titled ‘SALAM: Innovating Means to Resolve Radical Extremism in Pakistan’.

The aim of the project is to introduce measures for the large-scale de-radicalisation initiatives in Pakistan by suggesting viable policy options to all stakeholders. The project is particularly focused on devising non-military tools (soft power) to fight this menace. It will be carried out in three phases.

In the first phase of the project, a research study has been launched to trace the underlying causes of radicalisation and extremism in Pakistani society. Certain social domains have been identified as possessing the greatest potential for giving rise to extremist or radical tendencies, such as religion, ideology, economic deprivation, communal apartheid, psychological, sociological and international realpolitik. CPGS President Senator Sehar Kamran, while addressing journalists, said that these domains are under the introspection of various national and international scholars, who are conducting objective research on these topics for the Centre.

She said an international seminar will also be held on August 21 and 22, 2013, to bring together the entire social fabric of Pakistani society, including the policy makers, academics, and civil society members and begin the process of sensitising the community on the subject. The Centre will also work as a mediator, and conduct interactive scenario workshops and roundtables between national and international experts to formulate a cohesive national response. This response will be refined and enriched by international experience and expertise, to root out the menace of extremism and radicalisation from Pakistan.

At the tail-end of the project, the Centre aims to establish a model institute, hopefully in the vicinity of the Islamabad, where findings from the research and discourse phases of the project will be incorporated into a comprehensive programme, aimed at reintegrating the remote radical elements of the community back into mainstream society. This will be done via the provision of basic, balanced social, technical, religious education and a programme for socio-psychological reintegration.

Furthermore, a social media campaign will also be launched with the help of national and international media to enhance awareness and understanding about Pakistani society both in Pakistan and abroad, in particular about the menace of extremism, which is nibbling away at the basis of our cohesion and integrity as a society.

Finally, the Centre hopes to devise a holistic and comprehensive strategy paper with viable policy options and necessary legislative measures that may be incorporated into the national constitution, to effectively counter the problem at the national level. This all-encompassing report will be presented to all governmental institutions concerned for necessary action.

Sehar Kamran said the vision of CPGS is to contribute towards regional and international peace, harmony and security through sustainable intellectual discourse, on all matters having an impact on the lives of inhabitants of this region and the world at large. Its objective is to encourage discussion among national leaders, intellectuals and academicians to accelerate social, political and economic development, for the benefit of the people of Pakistan and the Gulf region.

Riaz Haq said...

Here's the untold story in the British Daily Mail of Pakistan's unsung heroes in the battle to save their countrymen from Taliban savages who are seen by some Pak politicians as "brothers":

Captain Qasim Abbas had finished a six-month stint fighting the Taliban close to the Afghan border and was heading home to get engaged when the militants struck, ambushing his convoy, pitching his vehicle off a 90-foot cliff and leaving him with brain injuries that make speaking and walking a daily battle.
Abbas and the other soldiers recovering at Pakistan's only military rehabilitation hospital are a testament to the human toll from Pakistan's fight against Islamist militants. Their plight receives little attention from Pakistani politicians, possibly because they are afraid of associating themselves with an unpopular fight that many citizens see as driven by the United States.
'Fight, fight, keep fighting,' Abbas said slowly but with purpose when asked if he had a message for his colleagues still battling the Taliban. He raised his fist in the air to drive home his point.

Nearly 3,000 Pakistani troops have been killed fighting insurgents — more soldiers than NATO forces have lost in Afghanistan. Over 9,000 others have been wounded, many by buried bombs that blew off limbs and caused other life-altering injuries, the Pakistani military says.

Abbas fought with paramilitary special forces in the Orakzai tribal area during the first half of 2010 and was awarded a commendation by Pakistan's army chief for his role in seizing a strategic hilltop, said the soldier's brother, Maj. Usman Abbas.
The tall and lanky former army basketball player grew out his hair and beard during his deployment so he could blend in among the locals in the mountainous region near the Afghan border, said Abbas' brother. But his luck ran out when he was ambushed on June 21 of last year as he was leaving Orakzai to meet his future wife.
The attack left Abbas in a coma for six months, but he is now driven to recover. He spends three hours every morning in the hospital's gym trying to coax strength back into his arms and legs and overcome partial paralysis on the left side of his body.

The most common injuries the rehab hospital has had to deal with have been from homemade bombs the militants bury throughout the tribal region, said the head of the institute, Maj. Gen. Akthar Waheed. These weapons also pose the greatest threat to U.S. troops in Afghanistan.
Captain Kaleem Nasar was part of an operation elsewhere in the northwest in January of this year when he stepped on a bomb. The explosion blew off one of his legs, and the other had to be amputated below the knee. He visited the rehab hospital recently so doctors could work on his artificial limbs.
Despite his injuries, he does not regret going to war against the Taliban and hopes he can return to active duty.
Waheed contrasted the lack of political attention in Pakistan with a visit he made to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in the U.S. in April. He was there for only five days but saw a stream of officials and reporters come to the facility to meet with U.S. soldiers wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq, he said....
The hospital hopes to expand its capacity to 150 beds in the next few years from 100 today, said Waheed. He hopes this expansion will be accompanied by greater appreciation of what the soldiers have gone through.
'Any person who has given his limb, say his right hand, what is left with him?' said Waheed. 'His suffering is for all of life.

Riaz Haq said...

Pakistan's teenager Malala Yousufzai wins Nobel Peace Prize shared with Indian children rights activist Kailash Satyarthi:

Reaching across gulfs of age, gender, faith, nationality and even international celebrity, the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2014 peace prize on Friday to Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India. The award joined a teenage Pakistani known around the world with an Indian veteran of campaigns to end child labor and free children from trafficking.

Ms. Yousafzai, 17, is the youngest recipient of the prize since it was created in 1901. Mr. Satyarthi is 60. The $1.1 million prize is to be divided equally between them.

The award was announced in Oslo by Thorbjorn Jagland, the committee’s chairman, who said: “The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.”

“Children must go to school and not be financially exploited,” Mr. Jagland said. “It is a prerequisite for peaceful global development that the rights of children and young people be respected. In conflict-ridden areas in particular, the violation of children leads to the continuation of violence from generation to generation.”

Riaz Haq said...

A Pakistani court Thursday sentenced 10 men to life in prison for their involvement in a 2012 assassination attempt on teenage education activist and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai, lawyers and government officials said.

“They have received life sentences for the Malala case, but there is further legal action ongoing against them too so their [prison] terms may be enhanced,” said one of the lawyers involved in the case.

Life imprisonment is equal to 25 years in Pakistan. Lawyers and government officials declined to provide details about Thursday’s sentencing, or other legal action against the men, who have the right to appeal.

Ms. Yousafzai, 17 years old, rose to prominence after writing an online diary of her experience under the rule of the Pakistani Taliban, who had overrun much of her native Swat valley in 2007 and 2008. Her criticism of Taliban policies, especially their restrictions on girls’ education, angered the group, which labeled her a Western puppet and an enemy of Islam.

In October 2012, Ms. Yousafzai was on her way home after school when two gunmen stopped the school van, and shot her in the head after identifying her. Two other girls were also wounded. She was 15 years old at the time, and a national figure because of her campaign for women’s rights and education.

Ms. Yousafzai was stabilized by military doctors in Pakistan and then flown for emergency treatment and rehabilitation to the U.K., where she lives today.

The Taliban were driven out of Swat, once a picturesque tourist attraction in northwestern Pakistan, in a 2009 military operation. But militants have continued to target community leaders and residents they accuse of collaborating with the government. Mullah Fazlullah, who led the Swat Taliban when Ms. Yousafzai was attacked, is the current head of the Pakistani Taliban.

Lawyers in Mingora, the main town in the Swat valley, said four others, including the Pakistani Taliban chief, are still sought in connection with the attack on Ms. Yousafzai.

Pakistan’s military announced in September last year the arrest of the 10 alleged militants accused of being involved in the attack on Ms. Yousafzai. A Taliban representative rejected the military’s claim, saying only three militants were involved. The Pakistani Taliban have said they would continue to target Ms. Yousafzai.

Ms. Yousafzai was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last year, along with Indian children’s rights campaigner Kailash Satyarthi, for her campaign for girls’ education.

Riaz Haq said...

#Pakistan defies West's stereotypes of #Muslims: More #girls in #Pakistan colleges than boys. #MalalaYousafzai

Malala is made to tell a particular story about people in the global South, generally, and Pakistan, specifically.

She is represented as the girl who defied the culture in Pakistan, and who now embodies a transnational, secular modernity exemplified by her emphasis on independence, choice, advocacy for freedom, and arguments for gender equality.

Instead of being a symbol of the courage of Muslims and Pakistanis to stand up against local forms of violence, Malala is presented as an exception.

This narrative of Malala sustains the fa├žade of Islam as an oppressive religion and Muslims as embroiled in pre-modern sensibilities.

Transnational girls’ education campaigns, such as the Nike Foundation’s “Girl Effect” and the White House’s “Let Girls Learn,” similarly paint a picture of black and brown populations as pre-modern, and still not educating girls. They call on the feminist sensibilities of benevolent citizens to save their Muslim sisters.

Such formulations, however, not only re-articulate the binary of victim/heroine, but also abstract education from a complex web of issues such as state corruption, the hollowed-out welfare system, and lack of access to jobs, among others.

In the case of Pakistan, for instance, research shows that girls are in school; in fact, there are more girls in higher education than boys!

Girls’ education – or, lack thereof – thus, has become a way in which Western institutions have established their own superiority and, simultaneously, the inferiority of Islam and Muslims, deeming interventions necessary and even ethically imperative.

In the context of these deep and emotional attachments to girls and education, girls who advocate for education (like Malala) and the school infrastructure itself have become prominent targets for extremists as a means to express their anti-West, anti-United States and anti-Pakistan sentiments.

It enables them to strike at the heart of what liberal global North deems as its most prized project.

Importantly, the extremists represent their attacks as a continuation of their fight against what they perceive to be colonial and foreign influence – mass schooling in Pakistan being a legacy of the British colonizers who displaced local, indigenous traditions and systems of learning.

This is a serious critique that we must take into account if we hope to curb this war on education.

It is time, therefore, that we scrutinize the loud debate over girls’ education and dislodge the monopoly of Western perspective on it, thereby making it a less potent site for extremists.

A critical way in which we can further both these ends is by recognizing the long traditions of learning that are indigenous to Muslims and Pakistan, attending to the areas and systems of support identified by girls themselves, as well as supporting organizations such as the Aga Khan Development Network, which ground their efforts in their Muslim ethics and seek to improve the quality of life of populations in Pakistan (and beyond).

Doing so will not only allow us to further our efforts for global education, but make space for alternative traditions and recognize humanity’s many histories.