The targeted attack on Malala Yousafzai, by the Taliban, two days ago, opened floodgates of condemnation and protests from all quarters of the world, and even more so within the country. As civil society organisations, schools and social media took up verbal arms against the heinous act of shooting the fourteen year old, who has become a symbol for the cause of women’s education in Swat, public sentiment flared as many declared: this means war.
Several protests were carried out by students, faculty members, civil society organisations, lawyers and journalists, who lit candles for Malala and chanted anti- Taliban slogans, in protest against the attack. They carried banners and placards in support of Malala and said that the government must take strict action against militants.
Waves of Empathy
Female students, in particular, empathised with the fourteen year old and strongly protested the attack. Sharmeen, a student, said, “This is injustice against me and every girl in this country. If its Malala today, it could be me tomorrow. If we don’t raise our voices now, they will be silenced forever.”
Asma, representing an NGO, said, “From what I’ve seen and read this girl’s bravery has been astounding. She battled all odds to gain education and her bravery is an inspiration to every girl who has ever wanted to pursue education.”
Not in our Pakistan
Many senior citizens, present at these protests, deplored over what had become of the country.
“Such a horrible thing has happened to my country. That’s the reason I’m here,” said Daud Nasir, a retired citizen, “We need to educate people and make them understand the horrors of intolerance and religiosity. Pakistan was not meant to be such a restricted society.”
Another senior citizen, Allah Bakhsh said, “Mullahs don’t want anyone to be enlightened or to develop. They have an archaic mind set. We’re here because we want to educate our country and want it to develop.”
How dare they quote
Earlier, TTP spokesperson Ihsan-ullah-Ihsan released a statement trying to justify the attack on Malala. He used certain incidents from the Quran, taken out of context, to rationalize killing a minor. These misquotations enraged Islamic scholars and the general populace alike.
Amna, a student of classical Islamic learning, said, “The Taliban does not enjoy mainstream support from Muslims. Why is Islam being targeted? Holy Prophet (PBUH) said, “My people will never agree on something that is wrong” and also that “Allah places His hand on the majority”. According to Islamic law itself, TTP has no right to implement shariah like that. Shariah was never implemented like this. How many people did the Holy Prophet (PBUH) kill just because they refused to agree with him? None. The Taliban are able to misquote instances from the Quran and the life of the Prophet (PBUH) because none of us know enough to rebut the claim they have forcefully laid on the religion. Muslims today do not even know their religion well enough to defend it, that doesn’t mean that it becomes the property of any and everybody who tries to misuse it. What is more sickening than the Taliban’s explanation, is the way the pseudo liberal secular elite is using this as a reason to malign religion. They are doing exactly what the Taliban are doing, misquoting religion for their own purpose. It is all really sickening.”
Samreen Khan, medical student, said, “I’m actually depressed about how vile a certain section of our society is. How easy it is for these people to give out statements with blatant lies about our religion to justify their absolutely ridiculous act. How is this country ever going to progress with parties like these scaring people to fear for their lives? Burning buildings, killing our own people, and now shooting fourteen year old girls, wow we’ve really reached the epitome of humanity. I’ve always been a person who has defended her country but recently have started to lose faith, but if there are people like Malala still around, I think there is still hope.”
No more talks
Sarmad, a university student, said, “This madness needs to end. Pakistan needs to contain this chaotic situation that the Taliban has created right now. It was possible to engage them through dialogue initially, but that time has gone.”
With slogans of ‘Taliban murdabad’ ringing through the crowd, tempers against the militant organization flared high. “The attackers need to be brought to justice,” said Aisha, a lawyer, “I say they should be beheaded the same way, they have beheaded so many people of our country.”
Talal Munzar, a web developer, had a question to ask, “How does one fight an enemy that has no qualms about explicitly targeting little girls? I fail to believe that these people can be reasoned with and I fear that we’ll have to stoop down to their level to battle them.”
Myra, a psychology major, said, “‘Either Pakistan finishes the Taliban, or Pakistan itself will be finished by the Taliban. There can be no middle ground anymore’
Public sentiment regarding Taliban changed drastically after news of their barbaric methods to enforce shariah reached mainstream media. The statement released by the Taliban, where they used religion to exonerate themselves, seemed to be the final nail in the coffin. Calls for swift action against the attackers are coming in from all quarters and the public wants an end to militancy.
It’s like Saad Khan, a senior account executive, put it, “It’s sad that it had to take an attack on another innocent child for Pakistan to finally get angry enough to demand action against the Taliban. I welcome the awakening, late though it may be.”