We had a rare proud moment the day Pakistan’s daughter Malala Yousafzai brought home the Nobel Peace Prize. For a change, Pakistan’s name was in the world’s headlines in a pleasant way. And therein lies the problem. How can the evil West ever acknowledge our good side? So, the aspect they are celebrating, must have some hidden agenda to ultimately malign us.

As usual, our brilliant right wing intellectuals and wanna-be highbrows bring us wisdom. Malala is being welcomed in the West because she accused ‘our own brothers’ aka the Taliban for attacking her. The West does not give any award to drone victims or thousands of the victims of terrorism. They can only see Malala because some misguided brothers were wrongly accused of attacking her. It is, however, a minor distractive fact that the Taliban claimed responsibility of this ‘cowardly’ attack. Cowardly? Huh? Why do they call it cowardly? It was in broad daylight and the Taliban brothers did it quite bravely and openly.

These liberal fascists! They would never talk about Kashmiri daughters being raped and killed by Indian Army. It is because of these liberals that every time this Malala girl is given an award, our Muslim brothers are maligned. They are smeared baselessly for stopping girls’ education. The fact that they have bombed a few girls’ schools and have issued decrees stopping people from sending their daughters to school, cannot be used against them and to disparage Pakistan.

Shocked? Don’t be. Because this is how ordinary Pakistanis reacted to this girl’s resolve for education and her courage in resisting oppressive forces. She was continuously being compared to many other victims of terrorism and sectarian killings who were not given similar treatment. We fail to acknowledge even in the most shallow terms, that it was not her faith that made her one victim out of a collective. It was her gender, her defiance to a barbaric herd prone to behead every dissenting living being, and her standing right there while throwing her loud “No!” in their faces.

Never mind. For Malala, it is a routine matter by now to be hated by her countrymen and women for who she is and what she stands for. Or may be not yet. May be she is still too young to get it. She is three years older to my own daughter and I can completely understand if she breaks into tears while meeting a senior journalist from Pakistan, asking over and over again, “Uncle, main ne kiya kia hay?” (What have I done to deserve this?). You my child, have stood up and have defied the code. Unpardonable. Mend your ways or be hated for life.

Then there was a disturbing newscast at the end of that day. Around eight people were crushed to death after a massive rally by Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf in Multan. Whosoever it was, the party’s own mismanagement or the administration’s deliberate or unintentional blunders, we might never know. What we do know is, that those eight young and precious lives were wasted with impunity to the culprit(s). At least the incident was widely highlighted and condemned with strong demands from all political forces for a transparent inquiry. The party’s senior leaders attended the funeral prayers of the deceased while the party head visited their homes and offered compensation money; the benign face of our politics.

One can’t help but think about the six people, including two women, who died and not in an accident. They perished after a suicide attack that targeted them due to their faith. Shia Hazaras in the Aliabad area of Hazara Town in Quetta, could not get this kind of national attention. They did not make headlines in news bulletins, nor did they become the topic of discussion for twenty-five TV talk shows in a single evening. No compensation money, no high profile participation in their funeral prayers, no frenzied statements from political leaders across the political canvas. To their credit, many leaders issued the usual one-line statement of condemnation, which was telecasted at the tail end of news bulletins. How generous!

The terrorist act happened a day before Eid-ul-Azha. Everyone was understandably busy in celebrations with ‘religious zest’. TV channels continued their pre-recorded Eid programs mostly with a galaxy of anchorpersons bringing them up as a pinnacle of righteousness and rightness. There were funny reports of different kinds of bakras and how children enjoyed competing with each other in having their bakras (sacrificial goats) decorated. The Hazara body bags were lost somewhere during those nights. We forgot that the Shias in general and the Hazara community was still in mourning.

It is not because we are heartless. Not because we don’t care. May be we care only when we are made to care? May be we were made to care only for the eight in Multan or the fourteen in Model Town. Caring is good, even if selectively done. But that’s for the society. This kind of selective care happens everywhere. If ISIS beheads a Muslim, it creates slight ripples. If it beheads a white person, it creates genuine madness. Thank heavens, we are not alone.

But what has happened to the state? What has made it become selective? Didn’t Aitzaz Ahsan tell us the state would be like a mother? Didn’t we have a free judiciary? Weren’t we granted a free media by a benign dictator? Aren’t we living in a democracy? Isn’t democracy a rule for the people, of the people, by the people? Don’t we have a nationalist and progressive government in Balochistan? Isn’t Ahl-e-Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) a banned outfit? Then how can it stage a sit-in in the economic hub of this country and coerce law-enforcing agencies for having its choice appointments of officers? Isn’t the government of Sindh being run by a progressive and liberal coalition that believes in eradicating extremism and terrorism?

If even half of these questions have responses in the affirmative, we are living in a highly hypocritical society under an epically incompetent regime in all of the provinces, as well as in the federation, and in a state that is complicit in killing its own citizens. If this is the case, all debate on whether this country should be run by a dictatorship or under a democracy is completely sham and frivolous. The problem my friends, lies somewhere else. I will stop here and let our rulers reflect. There is still a thin possibility that it could actually happen. Hope!

The writer is an Islamabad based freelance columnist.