Dear Maligners! If only you knew the story behind Maria Toorpakai

Her achievements for Pakistan are enough to make you all realize that how big of a loser you all are!

Amid the biggest political coup of Pakistan, the much celebrated victory of Imran Khan, the complaints by Nawaz’s supporters and the ongoing blame games between the political parties, there are a number of some extremely important concepts of morality and respect which I feel needs to be re-addressed to us, being a Nation as a whole.

It is a fact that every second person has political affiliations and if not affiliation, one thinks of some leaders as better than the others. However If observed, a visible similarity can be seen between an educated and uneducated person of today’s Pakistan.

And sadly, the similarity is our conservative mentality that has been passed on to us from our past generations that is in coherence with the ‘Age of Ignorance’ when injustice was done in exchange for injustice. Women were objectified and mistreated, men were insulted and were treated as slaves, and there were no human rights and no values. People used to be so ignorant that they used to kill each other just on the very reason that they had ‘difference of Opinion’. Because they did not have tolerance, they were not educated. But what positive characteristics we have got from education?

On July 26, 2017, the news of the revenge rape of a 17 year old girl in Multan on the order of panchayat, took whole of the Pakistani media and internet by storm. The news left everybody in Goosebumps as this broke all the records of human rights violation.

According to the case, a man who had been identified as a rape suspect of a 12-year-old girl after which the panchayat ruled that the child’s brother should rape the sister of the suspect. The suspect was ordered to bring along the unmarried woman of his family before the panchayat, after which his 17-year-old sister was raped by the brother of the 12-year-old raped child.

The crux of the story is that an innocent, underage girl was victimized just because of a crime done by her brother. Is it fair? Even If the suspects are executed, the victimized child would never be able to forget this incident throughout her life.

This is what ignorant leaders of the village (Panchayat) did.

The news made headlines throughout the media but right after 5 days from this tragedy, news came in! It was Ayesha Gulalai telling the media that she was ill-treated and harassed by the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan. The allegations also stated that “A respectable female worker cannot remain in the party and that Imran Khan is the reason that the honor of mothers and sisters of Pakistan is not safe”. She maintained that “Imran Khan sent her inappropriate text messages and that he is not a dignified (ghairat mand) Pathan but the truth was that she did not prove it which made her allegations meaningless and null.

I condemn the character assassination of Imran Khan that was done by a female and maintain that she should have kept any proof if she was going to disclose them, but as she didn’t have any, she could have remained silent.

But then how can we remain silent in such situations without taking “revenge” (the practice we have adopted from the age of ignorance). The female leaders of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) came out in defense of their party and chief Imran Khan calling former member Ayesha Gulalai an opportunist for leveling allegations of corruption and sexism in the party. They also said that she proposed Imran Khan and because Khan refused the proposal, Gulalai with her broken heart turned to media for revenge. Many believed it as well.

But it was not over, the PTI workers, Jialas and Leaders launched an aggressive propaganda campaign against Ayesha Gulalai’s sister saying that Ayesha Gulalai herself does not belong to a noble family giving the fact that her sister plays squash in shorts.

But wait up maligners! Do you even know who Maria Toorpakai Wazir is and how she became a squash player?

Fighting the battle of internet, the aggressive and emotional supporters didn’t even feel the need to turn to the same platform and check what actually her background is!

Dear Readers! Born in Waziristan, a highly conservative region of Pakistan, Maria Toorpakai is the girl who had to disguise herself as a boy when she took up the sport - and later received ominous threats for playing in shorts. She continued with sports against the will of her family.

In an interview with BBC, Maria shared all her struggles which she faced in her journey of becoming a Squash Champion. Her father used to tell people, “That's my son and his name is Genghis Khan,” Toorpakai says.

In the first month or two of playing squash, people didn't know that she was a girl. When the truth came out, other players started taunting her.

"They used to tease me, even used bad language. It was unbearable and disrespectful - extreme bullying”, she said in an interview.

She got really hurt; even she locked herself in the squash court and played for hours, from morning to evening.

"My hands were swollen, bruised and bleeding, but I still kept playing. I locked myself away, trying to create my own shots, my own drills”, she said.

"In our area, girls are not even allowed to leave their family homes," explained her father.

"They wear a veil all the time and are always accompanied by male family members. When people saw Maria and realized that she did not wear a veil and that she played squash wearing shorts, they were shocked. They said she had brought dishonor to our tribe and they criticized me heavily for it," described her father.

Once a letter was pinned to the window of Wazir's car telling him to stop his daughter from playing squash because it was ‘un-Islamic and against tribal traditions’. It also threatened ‘dire consequences’ if he did not act.

But he maintained that if his daughter wanted to pursue a career in sport, he would support her.

This is the story behind becoming a Champion Squash Player and the most important thing is that she became a source of pride for Pakistan. Her hard work paid off. She won several national junior championships and also received an award from the President of Pakistan.

Pakistan appreciated and accepted Maria; they accepted the girl with pride not on the basis of her clothes and figure, but because of her passion, commitment and achievement towards her goal.

Firstly, the woman had no association with politics and the fact that her sister is a politician has nothing to do with her. She is not responsible for anybody else’s thoughts.

Secondly, the remarks of those who are trying to malign her, show their own character and mentality as they have never learnt anything else in their life except for maligning, belittling and trolling others. May be this is what they live for!  

Those defaming her over the fact that she plays in shorts are the reason for an increasing ratio of ‘rape and domestic violence’ in our country. They are the people (men or women) who encourage men to defame and mistreat others’ sisters and daughters on the basis of their clothes and then in the end disguise their hate and lust by damaging their dignity.

Her achievements for Pakistan are enough to make you all realize that how big of a loser you all are!

The writer is a Media Graduate and a Broadcast Journalist by profession. She has a keen interest in reading, storytelling, writing and possesses a critical view of the various dilemmas of Pakistani society, especially those concerned with the oppression of women. Follow her on Twitter.

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