Malala Yousufzai’s saga is one that is perhaps open to the most differing interpretations than any other published news story; with large portions of the populace still embroiled in heated debates over the actual facts of the incident and busy spinning wild conspiracy theories. The recent news, that of the ten attackers that targeted Malala, only two have been actually convicted, as opposed to the previous reports that all ten were given life imprisonment, does nothing to assuage public fears of a conspiracy or a cover-up. Furthermore, it goes a long way in damaging the government’s, and in this case specifically, the military’s credibility.

From start to finish the whole case has been shrouded in secrecy; no one was aware that these men were arrested in relation to Malala until an ISPR press statement – which is curios since none of these men are those who were originally named as the perpetrators. No one was aware that a trial was taking place until their conviction was announced – which makes one wonder who represented these men in court and who were the witnesses. While these facts raised eyebrows, in Pakistan’s flawed, multifaceted and often secretive judicial system, such anomalies are not unknown. Yet the revelation that only two men were convicted is a separate matter; the public was wilfully and maliciously lied to. Muneer Ahmed, a spokesperson for the Pakistani High Commission in London said that the original judgement acquitted the eight men for lack of evidence and blamed misreporting for the confusion created. This is again, clearly untrue. All officials maintained that ten people had been convicted, and even if the judgement was misreported, no one, not the judge, the prosecution, the government or the army, came forward to correct them.

The state’s incentive to lie can be easily understood – never condoned though – Malala was becoming an international symbol, and her increasing stature meant Pakistan’s failure to apprehend her attackers stuck out all the more prominently. Coupled with the recent operation against militants; the news that all ten attackers was successfully apprehended definitely eased international pressure, but at what cost? The government misrepresented the truth to present a better image of their own endeavours. If they can lie to the public in such high-profile cases, what is to stop them from doing so in mundane ones where the scrutiny is laxer. This revelation makes one wonder how any of the ‘hardcore terrorists’ convicted by the government and the military courts are actually terrorists? Were their convictions achieved to make a more embellished and publishable press release? The government, and especially the military authorities who so triumphantly declared these arrests, must explain why they lied to the public, and why was this lie sustained?