16 October 2012

Pakistani spring?

Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani activist blogger who was shot by the Taliban for opposing their campaign against girls' education, has been moved to New Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, UK.  The hospital is a leading center for treating gunshot wounds and head injuries, and since it partly specializes in British casualties from the Afghan war, it has built-in security against terrorist attacks on patients.

Though she is no longer in Pakistan, her presence there looms larger than ever.  The attack on her seems to have galvanized opponents of Taliban-style religious extremism across the country into taking a public stand, despite the danger.  Her case is being compared with that of Tunisian street vendor Mohamed Bouazizi, whose fiery suicide in 2010 in protest of official oppression helped trigger the Arab spring.  Girls across Pakistan are participating in an "I am Malala" campaign, the country's media and national leaders have condemned the attack, a group of clerics has issued a fatwa against the shooters, and rallies and prayer vigils have been held, including one in Karachi which drew tens of thousands.  The Taliban, apparently stung by all the criticism, have begun threatening the Pakistani media over their coverage of the case.

If -- and it's a big if -- this outpouring of revulsion against the attack is sustained and grows into a vigorous expression of public disgust at the interminable religious violence afflicting Pakistan, then it's possible that some real change could be achieved.  As with the Arab spring, half the battle is coming together in reassuring mass numbers and banishing the fear which people naturally feel at standing up to violent thugs, whether those thugs be a dictator's enforcers or religious terrorists.  And as with the Arab spring, one should not expect too much.  Getting rid of the Taliban will not transform Pakistan into Denmark any more than getting rid of Mubarak did so with Egypt.  But girls' right to education (Malala's cause), and the right of citizens to express their views without being gunned down by troglodytes from the Dark Ages, are very basic principles; unless they are firmly upheld, it's hard to see even a glimmering of hope for Pakistan to have a decent future.

In the meantime, the Taliban have re-affirmed their determination to kill Malala, and have also declared their intention to kill her father.  The flames of decent people's hatred for these murderous fanatics will not soon be lacking for fuel.


Blogger Tommykey said...

In the meantime, the Taliban have re-affirmed their determination to kill Malala, and have also declared their intention to kill her father.

I hate these fanatics so much that sometimes I wish we could find ways to bait them, say like putting up posters of Malala in various towns and then positioning snipers to shoot anyone who tries to take them down.

Yeah, I no, I'll probably offend some liberals here, but I have gotten to the point where it seems to me that if you can't reason with these people, then you have to make them afraid. Like those women who allegedly assaulted that imam in Iran. These fanatics need to learn that there is a price to be paid everytime they try to push their religious bullshit in public.

I think of the scene from The Untouchables when Sean Connery tells Kevin Costner, "They come at you with a knife, you pull a gun. They put one of yours in the hospital, you send one of theirs to the morgue."

16 October, 2012 09:38  
Blogger uzza said...

..."they blow up two of your buildings, you invade their whole country."
How's that working out for ya?

Maybe we should try a less amygdalan response.

17 October, 2012 06:50  
Blogger Tommykey said...

Very cute Uzza. :-)

My comments were more of a venting nature than an actual policy prescription for the United States to send in teams of assassins into Pakistan to murder Taliban, as if such a thing were feasible.

In actual fact though, it is a matter of the people in these countries standing up to and defeating the fanatics and thugs that I'm referring to. Of course, that is their choice, not ours, whether to escalate resistance and ultimately violence against the Taliban or other such extremists.

18 October, 2012 04:06  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

You both have a point. Trying to negotiate peaceful coexistence with violent religious fanatics seems rather like trying to negotiate peaceful coexistence with the smallpox virus -- eradication is the only sane option. On the other hand, it would be far more hopeful and effective for the campaign against the Taliban to be waged primarily by aroused people within Pakistani and Afghan society, rather than from outside. Militant Christian fundamentalists in the US are a menace, and one can argue that they're a real threat to some groups outside the US -- by funding and encouraging murderously anti-gay groups in Africa, for example. Yet one can easily see the problems that would arise if African military forces entered the United States to try to kill militant fundamentalists here.

In Libya (subject of Uzza's link), the government has arrested dozens of people in connection with the attack on our consulate, and crowds of furious Libyans have attacked and burned encampments of the religious extremists. This, like the Pakistanis standing up to the Taliban, is a very hopeful sign that Middle Eastern peoples are starting to turn against this disease in their midst.

18 October, 2012 06:41  
Blogger Tommykey said...

it would be far more hopeful and effective for the campaign against the Taliban to be waged primarily by aroused people within Pakistani and Afghan society, rather than from outside.

Agreed. My bad for not making it clear in my initial comment that I meant that I wished it was the opponents of the Taliban in Pakistan who struck back at them by repaying them with violence.

The corollary to Connery's comments to Costner in The Untouchables was when he asks Costner "How far are you prepared to go?" Because when one seeks to commit violence against murderous fanatics like the Taliban, they will strike back and try to raise the ante.

We can only hope that over the long term things will change so that the religious militants see themselves becoming increasingly marginalized, but I fear they won't go quietly.

24 October, 2012 16:55  

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