Barbed wires, snipers aiming straight at you, multiple security check points along with Lahore’s current gloomy weather make the perfect description for a high security prison, right? Well, sad as it is, this is the current description of our educational institutions.
At university, I am told to prove my identity at multiple points and instead of being greeted by the usual friendly smiles on the guards faces, I am greeted by a bunch of security personnel who radiate an aura of fear and sorrow simultaneously. Pakistan is a scary place for students at the moment, there’s no denying the fact. Almost everyone will agree with me on this. The thing that saddens me, however, is the fact that when Malala stated the exact same thing, she was criticized by Pakistanis all over the world for ‘bringing a bad name’ to Pakistan.
We – and by ‘we’ I mean the more privileged Pakistanis who haven’t had to experience the true wrath of the Taliban in our daily lives – are now getting to see what Malala’s Pakistan really looked like. It is ironic that individuals who went on criticizing Malala for staging an act by getting shot are calling school authorities to ensure that adequate amounts of security are provided to their children. The same individuals who deny the fact that the TTP had anything to do with shooting Malala are the ones fearing for their own children’s lives at the hands of the same enemy. The truth is, nobody wants their own children to go through the same thing Malala did. Perspectives change when one’s own blood is brought into the equation, you see.
Why are such blatant displays of hypocrisy being tolerated now? Malala’s attack was fake; the enemy that she has been pointing out does not exist, right? Then why are we trying to protect our own children from the very same enemy? Why are our lives more important than the lives of Malala and her friends? Why are our fears justified while hers never were?
The truth is, this is the very first time that we have gotten a taste of Malala’s Pakistan. The Pakistan where children are killed for going to school.The Pakistan where individuals risk their lives daily to be able to get educated. This is the face of Pakistan that Malala revealed to the world for which she was criticized. When Malala spoke about these issues, she was labeled as a traitor, an ‘agent’ of the west. When one of us gets up and does the same, we are praised for our courage.
Why is it that at present, everyone is openly speaking against Islamic extremists but when Malala did the same, she was criticized for ridiculing Islam?We have finally been exposed to the Islam that Malala and her friends grew up witnessing; the Islam of bearded men blowing up places and committing atrocities in the name of God. Why is it that a month of exposure to this version of Islam gives us the right to condemn it, yet Malala, who had been exposed to this Islam all her life, wasn’t given the right to do the same?
While we have the resources to have additional security measures being taken at our educational institutions, hundreds of thousands of children in the Taliban infested areas of Pakistan have been denied the right to get educated for years. It saddens me to know that it took an attack on a prominent school in a major city for the whole country to realize that it is actually at war with the terrorists. It saddens me to realize that young AitzazHasan had to give his life to protect his fellow students; something that could have been avoided had someone deemed it important to provide security to his school as well.
We have been exposed to this threat from the Taliban for a month and our educational institutes have been transformed into mini fortresses, yet hundreds of thousands of children who have been exposed to a much severe threat from the same group all their lives still go to schools that hardly have proper walls and fences. Such is the selfishness that has become an integral part of our society. An issue is only an issue if the powerful are affected by it; this is how our society functions. Now that this issue has finally become an issue for the entire country, let’s have the decency of admitting thatthe threats that she informed the world about are actual threats and that the enemy that she has been victimized by truly exists. Only then will we be able to find a solution to the problem that has clearly grown beyond control.
Wishal Raheel is a finance student who enjoys travelling and spends a lot of her time writing about social issues. Follow her on Twitter