November Issue 2012

By | Editorial | News & Politics | Opinion | Published 12 years ago

The brave 15-year-old Malala Yousufzai, who was shot by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan(TTP) for daring to espouse the cause of female literacy in Swat, is recovering slowly, but steadily, in a Birmingham hospital. But Pakistan continues to be tormented by Malala’s tormentors, as they extend their sphere of activity further and further.

If latest reports are to be believed, several thousand Taliban have entered Karachi and are suspected to be behind the dramatic increase in the killings of law enforcement personnel and ANP activists, in addition to daring bank robberies. So, is Karachi’s worst nightmare of turning into a Taliban stronghold coming true? Yes, says the federal interior minister, Rehman Malik.

There is fear on another score. General elections are tentatively scheduled in the first-half of 2013 and there are rumours that the Taliban are planning to support and fund those parties that are on the same page as them — anti-women, anti-minorities, and opposed to a liberal, progressive and secular Pakistan. They have issued stern warnings to the MQM, which has been very vocal in its opposition of the Taliban.

When the Malala-shooting incident occurred, one was convinced that the outrage felt by the masses would compel the army, backed by parliament, to move against the Taliban with single-mindedness.

But the moment was hijacked by vested interests, who equated the shooting with drone attacks, questioned why one was being given so much coverage and not the other, and concluded it was a conspiracy of the West to defame Pakistan. How do these conspiracy theorists explain the bombing of hundreds of girls schools in Swat and elsewhere? Was that also some devious plot of the West? This is just the kind of justification the Taliban need to let them off the hook and continue with their vile agenda.

Not so long ago, when the public saw shocking TV images of a girl being flogged in Swat by the Taliban, a woman activist cum documentary filmmaker was accused of ‘manufacturing’ the scene in a studio in the US, and forced to go underground for a year, following death threats from the Taliban.

And now even health workers of foreign-funded NGOs, who are providing anti-polio vaccines to children, are being targeted. Two of them, including a foreign doctor, have been killed, forcing the anti-polio campaign in certain parts of the country to be withdrawn.

In the absence of a clear-cut national strategy, which enjoys the support of all the stakeholders — the government, the opposition and the army — the Taliban will continue to spread their reign of terror across the country.

And all those who continue to remain silent or lend support to the Taliban agenda for their own narrow interests, should be prepared for a society of polio-stricken children, illiterate women, and decapitated men.

Can the nightmare get any worse?

This article was originally published in the November issue.

Rehana Hakim is one of the core team of journalists that helped start Newsline. She has been the editor-in-chief since 1996.