View Full Version : Feeding a monster - Salma Yousuf - 20th October 2012 (The News)

20th October 2012, 11:59 AM
The media has been flooded with news stories revolving around the attack on Malala Yousafzai. The coverage is almost unprecedented. Every newspaper and TV channel has been running her story as headline news. Every child in Pakistan knows Malala’s name. Every schoolgirl wants to be a Malala. And that is just in Pakistan. As I came home on London’s underground, a newspaper caught my attention. A double-page spread had been dedicated to Malala as she arrived in the UK for treatment.

The sympathy for Malala and her family is natural and the only human response. The condemnation of this cowardly and despicable act is rightly universal. However, it seems the Western media has hijacked this story, and I can’t help but question the motives for this. The reality is that innocent people are killed in Pakistan every day, to the extent that Pakistanis have become desensitised. Another shooting or suicide bombing, and it doesn’t even register on the average person’s radar. And it is not that children are not killed in those attacks. A conservative estimate lists at least two dozen terrorist incidents where children have been killed in the last ten years.

Certainly there are particular features which distinguish this incident. Of course the deliberate targeting of a child makes this attack particularly abhorrent. But what of the almost daily drone attacks in Waziristan where children are all too frequently part of the “collateral damage” as outlined in the recent report commissioned by researchers at the New York University School of Law and Stanford University Law School entitled “Living Under Drones.” Is that any more palatable?

While the Taliban may be the enemy here, what of our ally, the US? What about when their attacks kill innocent children. Those children also have dreams of getting an education, aspirations of carving out a future for themselves. Instead, they are forced to live under siege, day in and day out, in fear of the enemy above.

And why are they not flown to Western hospitals when they are injured in such attacks? Surely they would be the most worthy recipients given the US is directly responsible for their injuries – that is, if they survive. Perhaps because it would draw unnecessary attention to this illegal programme of warfare. After all, the strikes are giving rise to anxiety and psychological trauma among whole communities in the region. Perhaps no hospital would be large enough to deal with the volume of patients.

Only last week Imran Khan was demonstrating against the US campaign of drones in Pakistan’s northwest tribal belt. Activitists from the US and the UK vociferous spoke out on the issue. Suddenly, those voices have been muted by a shift in focus onto the Taliban as a result of this incident. For the West the timing couldn’t have been better. This incident provides perfect ammunition to further their campaign in Waziristan. But the Pakistani nation needs to be rational. Malala isn’t the first. She is only one of many killed daily. Each life lost is one too many. Rather than getting caught up in the hype, we need to question why this is happening. Pre-9/11 such incidents were unheard of. Pakistan was largely a safe country.

We need to stop feeding the monster that is creating the types of people that shoot innocent children. We need to understand that mindset, and we need to address it. Malala is a champion for education and speaking up for justice; so let us follow in her footsteps and extend our condemnation – not just to the Malala attack but for every child who is attacked on our soil. Let us ensure that each has a name and an identity, so their cause is not lost. It is only then that we can hope for real justice.