Pakistanis should protect and cherish their national heroes, such as Malala Yousafzai, not ridicule them – by Rusty Walker

video-swatclassdismissed-articleLargeThere are some born leaders in history that make such a positive mark on a nation’s psyche, through their historical achievements that they earn iconic status. I will discuss one such person here after some commentary: Malala Yousafzai.

Such national heroes have a creative vision, remarkable achievements, or astounding successes in the face of national or world crises, that they transcend political affiliation. Examples that come to mind are, Churchill in the UK, Kennedy in the US, and Jinnah in Pakistan.  A single name is enough to identify them. The possibility that Malala would be among those is great, given her world attention at so young an age. I would add to Pakistani national hero status, Zulfikar Bhutto, over the protesting of some, despite flaws, and mistakes, just as I would JFK, who had the Bay of Pigs scandal. As for Benazir Bhutto’s promise, not unlike Jinnah, and JFK, her legacy was short-circuited. They did not have the opportunity to achieve far beyond what they could have, by virtue of an abbreviated life. In history, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Therefore, we are right to look past some human errors and flaws in our heroes if there was a greater good. We understand in the U.S. for example, that George Washington and Thomas Jefferson had slaves, but contributed far beyond those anomalies, for which we may forgive.

It has become the fashion to cut down our heroes. Some academics consider this to be a more modern assessment of things. Cynicism becomes the vogue. This thought process assumes past historical records glorified people too much. It all too often, appeals to our base-nature, as flawed humans, to cut people down a notch or two. It may satisfy our need to make ourselves feel more important. Malala Yousafzai is one such example of a pure entity, with a pure message, enduring unwarranted criticism on Twitter, Facebook, and from errant reporters in the press.

Consider that in the U.S. a decade or so ago, when we went through such a phase. Books were published about Lincoln’s depression; and Jefferson’s lover who was his slave, Sally Hemmings, and many other examples of revisionist history. While some of these cannot be faulted for honest content, there were others that were simply malicious. The brilliant Founding Fathers of the U.S., in pseudo-intellectual campaigns to minimze their profound achievements, often by academics, were sometimes referred to as “Dead white guys, who had slaves.” But, much of this registered with the public as intellectually dishonest. Alas, these national heroes still stand firm as celebrated figures in our history. Judging historical heroes through the lens of our supposed evolved mentality of today is an inaccurate historical assessment. It can also be misused as a clever ploy to reduce any past or current hero to a contemptible specimen. A nation needs heroes. It helps bond a nation; especially a nation as diverse as Pakistan, with various ethnic groups, Muslim sects and religious faiths, with a shared national-identity.

Such revealed “truth” about national heroes were actually known facts that in the past were considered irrelevant to the great deeds. Focusing on small negatives, neglects the context of the historical figure. Maligning heroes by minimizing the extraordinary impact they made on the world, is easy with sensationalized tales of a heroes’ wanton lust, or cherry-picked defeats are featured, such as JFK’s affairs, and Churchill’s Gallipoli, respectively. We can easily bring down our heroes; especially if we do not need to air our own dirty laundry. Attempts at discrediting Martin Luther King after his death by illuminating his womanizing didn’t work. His memory remains untainted by the spotlight into his personal life. We love to kick down our national heroes, like Malala, but why?

I have noticed over the years that increasing numbers of Pakistanis have found perverted pleasure in finding fault and derision aimed at the great Pakistani icons: Mohammed Ali Jinnah, the Founder- “Quaid-i-Azam;” Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the brilliant, but flawed, exceptional President elevated Pakistan to a nuclear state, and Benazir Bhutto, the pluralistic voice for the disenfranchised minorities, is constantly derided by unsubstantiated claims of corruption. Name one Pakistani leader or government politician that has not been accused of corruption! Is there anyone? All great people in the historical and global perception of Pakistan are up for ridicule to no good purpose, but shallow political advantage.

Another national hero is Mohammad Abdus Salam, theoetical physicist, who won the 1979 Noble Prize in Physics and was the firstMuslim and first Pakistani to receive a Nobel Prize. Salam was a devout Muslim, except in his own Pakistan, where the Constitution would prohibit your national hero from Muslim-status, due to his devotion to Ahmadiyya. Nevertheless, we know him to be a devout Muslim. Shall we not malign him for being Amedhi? No, we should celebrate him!

Malala Yousafzai, your nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize, and the youngest ever, is the latest punching bag, where people, including establishment Pakistani press people throw an unwarranted cheap shot. The youthful example of purity, with not a mark against her, has been a victim of unfair and indiscriminate criticism, from those that chose to ignore her noble message.

It isn’t just the radical religious that scorn Malala. It isn’t just the misogynistic tribal elders; it isn’t just the terrorists from TTP who shot her; or, the ASWJ Salafists that disallow education to women, that mock Malala. It isn’t just the far-Right Mullahs that would cover women with Burqas so as to be invisible. These extremists are joined by the  fake-liberals, some in the press, who also devalue women in Pakistan. These jaded and nefarious miscreants would degrade women who become world-class spokespersons for great causes. These heinious exmples pretend to be progrsessive liberals, but are aligned with terrorists.

To be invited to speak at the United Nations is a paramount honor (see Malala’s list of accolades here: But, the contingency of detractors continued. The Western press picked up on the ridicule. They wrote of Pakistanis calling her the poster child of the west. This is to be taken as an insult? She has a message every country should hear. Ask yourself why she would not be a poster child for Pakistan? To deny her that would suggest sympathy with the Taliban who shot her. Is it a cowardly effort to appease the Takfiri Salafists to malign Malala? Or, would it be both of those points, including the general hypocritical reality of Pakistan’s fake social society, who drink, smoke, and have affairs, but, pretend to purity? We witness them promoting by example, the notion that women should stay passive; disappear under the Burqa, and remain at fault when attacked verbally and physically by male aggressor.

There have been a number of closet Taliban sympathizers that have chosen to attempt to discredit the unassailable Malala Yousafzai. Neagtive efforts fail, because her message is too pure, too profound and more powerful than any Taliban. I am selecting one insignificant writer from the press to show as an example and to highlight the fake social society in our presence in order to recognize the enemy is closer than we think. Let’s give it a face!

Following what some call the Najam Sethi Raza Rumi school of thought, from Friday Times (owner and editor), Mohammad Shehzad, is an unexceptional columnist for the Friday Times. He is an ineffective caricature of what a journalist should be. That is, he chooses ridicule instead of reporting facts. He has been using sarcasm and exaggeration to malign Malala Yousafzai on Facebook. He also disrespects another Pakistani visionary, Benazir Bhutto. Mohammad Shehzad uses the stale and predictable slur calling “BB” corrupt and evil, even though the UN saw fit to award BB with the 2008 United Nations Prize in the Field of Human Rights. Like a schoolyard bully, he jeers at Pakistan’s teenage, female hero, Malala, who carries the universal message for women’s rights, but, to this reporter she is  a stooge for the U.S. as he infers that Malala is a prostitute, and her father “a pimp.”

Let’s consider who he and his insignificant counterparts are attacking, and who it was that shot her, and how this benefits known terrorist organizations: The self-appointed critics to Pakistan’s heroes see fit to defame Malala Yousafzai who on October 9, 2012, was shot by a Taliban gunman as she rode home on a bus after taking an exam in Pakistan’s SWAT Valley. The gunman was masked. Quite the coward this makes him. He warned: “Which one of you is Malala? Speak up, otherwise I will shoot you all”, and, on her being identified, shot her through her head, neck, and ended in her shoulder. Two other girls were also wounded. It is terrorists like this Taliban shooter,  that the Friday Times, owner, Najam Sethi, and editor, Raza Rumi encourges his reporters to interview. Do murderers of innocents deserve a platform to lie about their message?

The TTP claimed responsibility for the attack, with Ehsanullah Ehsan, chief spokesman saying that Yousafzai “is the symbol of the infidels and obscenity.” He vowed that they would shoot her again. The Taliban, burned down all the schools and beheaded several locals, but justified their attack as part of religious scripture: “The Quran says that people propagating against Islam and Islamic forces would be killed….Sharia says that even a child can be killed if he is propagating against Islam.” It is shameful that most Pakistani government officials resisted criticizing the Taliban by name at the time.

Who would make a mockery out of this brave child who stood up to gunfire and was the victim? Why would  Najam Sethi’s protégés at the Friday Times allow interviews to take place with known terrorist leaders that are associated with the shooter of Malala? Why hire reporters that make a mockery out of Malala? Raza  Rumi uses the excuse on Twitter, “Personal freedoms vs editorial line. Public condemnation he’ll say I am hindering his free expression.” But, freedom of the press should not extend to facilitating terrorists’ messages. Providing a public platform to terrorists is not an obligation of any legitimate news forum. Shall we allow all murderous Salafist Jihadists a legitimate press platform to announce their #Shia genocidal intent and desire for a Caliphate-or, deny their intentions with lies? How does Najam Sethi of Friday Times manage to ignore the damage that interviews with terrorist leaders does? Does he not see that it legitamizes and humanizes known murderers?  Does he and his protégés ignore the beheadings of Shias, or shooting of women seeking education in SWAT, and go forward with interviewing these same terrorist leaders as if it is a reporter’s great scoop? News organizations like the Friday Times allow extremists to voice their vile messages, and provide a platform to lie their way into legitimacy.

Who would side with Malala? As it turns out: Islamic clerics would side with Malala. On 12 October 2012, a group of 50 Islamic clerics in Pakistan issued a fatwā – a ruling of Islamic law – against the Taliban gunmen who tried to kill Malala Yousafzai. This included the Islamic scholars from the Sunni Ittehad Council that publicly denounced attempts by the TTP to mount religious justifications for such terrorist acts.

Unfortunately, abusers like Shehzad that are too often given a voice in mainstream press.
Exaggerating Malala’s message to the extreme, so as to suggest she is saying that, “there was not a single school in Pakistan. No women ever went to school. Every girl was shot..” is a typical device of frustrated Taliban apologists to ridicule and discredit Malala, and in so doing, give allowances to the TTP who shot her with a real bullet, not a fake one. These are the typical strawmanning tactics of Fake Civil Society hacks who provide subtle support to the pro-Taliban discourse of the security establishment. He goes on with these tactics of misrepresenting Malala’s views in a manner of reducto ad absurdium. The views of these abusive civil journos and elite have very little daylight with Taliban. These writers who publish articles in TFT promoting and humanizing Takfiri Deobandi terrorists of banned Sipah-e-Sahaba (ASWJ). His recent interview with ASWJ Chief Ludhianvi was shamelessly defended and justified .

Shehzad: “Before Malala, there was not a single school in Pakistan. No women ever went to school. Every girl was shot in the head if she went to school. Malala wanted to go to school. She was shot. There are so many like her who want to go to school. Malala’s father will be very happy. He is thriving on his daughter. His only qualification is his daughter now. What is the difference between him and a pimp?”

Mohammad Shehzad hopes Malala’s message is lost, so that the terrorists are seen in a more favorable light. It doesn’t work.

Incredibly, in an age where presidents have speechwriter’s, Malala Yousafzai has been accused of having someone write her speech for the UN. Clearly, she wrote it herself, as she spoke with great conviction. And, these are her own words, which echo earlier sentiments. For the sake of argument, even were she to do what high officials do, enlist a speech writer, it would not be an uncommon thing. However, this is not the case. Consider that Yousafzai started speaking about the right to education at ten years of age, in September of 2008, at Peshawar to the local press club. In 2009, at the age of 11, Yousafzai wrote a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC about her life under Taliban rule. At this young age and dangerous milieu, she took a position as chairperson of the District Child Assembly SWAT, and allowed a New York Times documentary to be filmed about her life surrounded by Pakistani military and Taliban in the battle in SWAT. This is a 16 year old, nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize by Desmond Tutu.Anyone seeing the UN speech would note that her delivery had no hesitation. Instead, there was a fearless poise, strength of character, and a sense of self-confidence light-years beyond most 16 year olds.

This is no common child. At 16 she is the youngest nominee for Nobel Peace Prize. She is the winner of Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. Malala’s photo was featured on the cover of the 29 April 2013 issue of Time magazine, “The 100 Most Influential People In The World”. Her section was written by Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former US President Bill Clinton and First Lady Hillary Clinton. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has announced on 10 November that 12 July, the birthday of Malala Yousafzai will be celebrated as Malala Day.

I submit to you, that a person that has achieved this much already, indeed, wrote her own speech, and should be respected for her message. A Pakistani female with such a powerful message of peace, education and freedom of expression, that has achieved such high national and international honours’ does not deserve mainstream Pakistan press writing on Twitter and Facebook outrageous ridicule and exaggeration.

To sum up, the vicious attacks on Malala are not just coming from Pakistan’s self-righteous Urdu media. They are also emanating from Pakistan’s pseudo liberal circles. The abusive and personal attacks by The Friday Times columnist Mohammad Shehzad are a prime example. However it would be unfair to simply limit our criticism to Shehzad. He represents a larger malaise.

Why does The Friday Times cultivate him and others to conduct softball interviews with terrorists and hate mongers. These interviews were shocking as instead of consisting of tough questions, they were geared towards humanizing hate speech and boastful terrorists.
Who has enabled Mohammad Shehzad? Is it not his editors and employers at The Friday Times?

It is sad to see the decline in this weekly periodical in the last few years. This is part of a larger trend which I hope other international journalists and correspondents are taking note of. Along with the Friday Times there are think tanks like the Jinnah Institute that have published a Taliban advocacy report in 2011. It is becoming increasingly clear that even the pseudo liberal English media has been mostly co-opted by the security establishment. Many of these journalists and intelligentsia are connected via their links to Pro-establishment think tanks like the Jinnah Institute. In this compromised environment, is it any surprise that Malala haters like Shehzad are thriving?

Entire Malala Speech on Youtube:

Malala Yousafzai’s passionate, brilliant speech to the UN. from Cayce Pollard on Vimeo.



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