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      Volume 11 |Issue 41| October 19, 2012 |


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Swat shot Backfired


When I visited the sandy beaches of Kill Devil Hills in North Carolina (USA), I marvelled at how even only a few feet of flight made history as the Wright brothers tried to achieve lift, power and control little over a hundred years ago. They did not live to ride their dream.

Today, as I am perched at thirty thousand feet on a London-Kuwait flight, I wonder how astounded Orville and Wilbur would be at the leaps and bounds that man has made since.

Malala Yousufzai

Yet, even though times have progressed, not a shade in contradiction to the Holy Quran, we find gun toting fanatics – labelled as and self-proclaimed Talibans – boarding a school bus, picking out their target by name, and shooting her in the head and neck in front of her mates. Their victim is only 15 years old.

In Islam, according to Maulana Shuaib Appleby, Muslim Judicial Council executive member, “The animals should not witness other animals being slaughtered…” Such an act of kindness is impossible when religious radicalism takes over, be it in any faith. Sadly in Swat on 9 Oct it was not accorded to even the highest creation of Allah. Malala Yousufzai was shot as her horrified teenager schoolmates looked on. Two of her classmates were also injured in the insane attack in trouble-strafed Pakistan.

Malala, a student from the town of Mingora in Swat District, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Pakistan, made a huge mistake (?). More than 1400 years after our beloved Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) had conveyed Allah's commandment that man should travel to as far as China (in the context of Saudi Arabia) to attain knowledge, the young blogger had only proclaimed her desire to go to school for education. How bad can that be?

Malala's shooting has drawn international condemnation. She has unified the world. A week after being shot into unconsciousness, she was flown to a Birmingham hospital in the UK by a UAE air ambulance in the attendance of a specialist doctor. Earlier the United Arab Emirates had readied the special aircraft with six doctors in case there was a need to move Malala for better treatment. These are clear signs that the West and the Arab state and possibly others in the region are outraged at the attackers and thereby the Talebans. Can the Talebans afford that?

We can only hope that Malala will come out of her deep sleep and see an awakened world; and already doctors in the UK are hopeful as she continued to show signs of improvement, albeit slow. We can only pray she will survive the horrendous attack and live healthily to pursue a desire common among children her age and any self-respecting person. Her utterances shall always inspire the teeming millions, who seek to observe, research, and discover the glory of Allah's creation.

The incident has obviously shocked all and sundry, including the Taleban stronghold of Afghanistan where children began their school lessons last week with a prayer for the quick recovery of the three injured girls.

Malala's shooting has been denounced worldwide. We have seen even if ever so slightly, a degree of self-defence among state and religious attackers when children become accidental or deliberate victims in an adults' war. But this was a case of a predetermined attack on a child barely out of puberty.

Schoolchildren are mostly at a loss. Shall we be targeted just because we want to go to school? They question in silence. In a louder voice of unity, schoolchildren in Pakistan have held mass protests holding up Malala's picture.

The government of Pakistan has announced a bounty of more than US$100,000 for the capture of the gunmen. It could have been five times more for in all likelihood no one will claim the prize for fear of being the Talebans' target. In Swat no one is talking.

If one is looking for a silver lining in this grim episode, it is that whatever support the Talebans enjoyed in Pakistan and elsewhere shall diminish. This fact the Talebans must take on board to rethink their strategy for the kind of governance they seek. It is now best for them to sit for discussion across a table, if necessary brokered by a third acceptable party.

Today Malala is the daughter of a nation and beyond. She has become an international icon of protest against the senseless killings of the Talebans, a representation of defiance against the Taleban.

Malala is today a symbol harnessing the demand for education for Muslim women across the world. Surely the Talebans and their nation would benefit from such a realisation, a virtue practised by the Last Prophet (pbuh).


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