By Salman Sikandar
Resistance and hatred are dialectical and when it comes to the resistance against the oppression deeply rooted in the unconscious of a society then this hatred increases by many folds. This hatred comes as a result of ignorance and is exploited by the status quo. In our cultural context, take Faiz Ahmed Faiz , Habib Jalib and a recent example of Asma Jahangir who were abhorred by a particular faction of our society. And now we are seeing how Malala Yusufzai is being targeted by the very same people.
But the story of Malala is a little different. Daughter of a famous local progressive activist, had read "A brief history of time" and many other books at the age of 11. She campaigned openly against Taliban, won international children's prize and countries first youth prize, became prominent in local and international media and was shot at the age of 15. They wanted to end it here, like such stories in our country do. If it was ended here Malala would have been lauded all over the country. She would've become the symbol of victimhood rather than a symbol of resistance. She would've been another victim to quench the thirst of our nation for lauding victims, but it didn’t end here! Malala stood up again, became the youngest Nobel laureate and instead of becoming a victim, she showed the audacity to become the epitome of constant struggle against the oppression.
How could the "keepers of our culture" allow a woman to become an example of struggle and bravery? In our society women are acceptable until they remain in the confines of victimhood but considered "disloyal" to the cultural norms when they resist against tyranny inherent in the culture. Seeing a woman rising to the heights of activism at a young age has traumatized this faction. Then hatred comes and narratives of national security, accusations of being an "agent of RAW and CIA" which have been impregnated in the unconscious of our society for 70 years. We have a really old habit of accusing progressive voices (even train, radio and TV) as the agents and threat to our national security so it’s most convenient for us to malign her through this narrative. She is an "agent" because she is a Nobel laureate, studies in the prestigious Oxford University, was treated in England and lauded by the West. These are lame and baseless accusations as nothing suggests that she is an agent of West or Jews, but they point towards the insecurity we as a nation has internalized. We label every dissenting voice as a part of controversy and tend to silence it.
Can we progress with this type of national attitude? Neither celebrating "I am not Malala Day” or comparing her with Anne Frank by some pseudo intellectual of East are going to stop her from her campaign for girls education, women rights and fight against oppression. She will keep on establishing schools, whether its Gaza, Syria or Iraq. She will keep on standing for women across the globe and fight against patriarchy. She will keep on raising voice for the oppressed whether they're Kashmiris or Rohingyans.
In her famous interview to Trevor Noah on The Daily Show, she recalled her memory before being shot and said, “I used to ask myself before I was actually shot, what would you do Malala if a Talib comes to kill you? And then I used to reply to myself that I'll tell him how important education is. And that I want education for your children as well. That’s what I want to tell you, now do what you want." Perhaps she is telling her critiques the same. The iron lady has dealt with bullets and what not. So Keep beating the drums of hate, your hatred is not going to affect her either.
Published in Young Nation Magazine on April 14, 2018