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Malala’s theme

Malala’s theme

By: Ikram Sehgal

Narrowly missing being named the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize, the young Pakistani girl who achieved international fame after being shot in the head and neck on a school bus in the Swat Valley by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan on October 9 last year, Malala Yousafzai felt she had not yet done enough to earn the prestigious award.

Feted by world leaders and celebrities for her incredible fortitude and unswerving dedication for the right of all children to acquire education made this brave girl the winner of Pakistan’s first ‘National Youth Peace Prize’.

Receiving dozens of other foreign awards, she joins luminaries like Nobel laureates Aung San Suu Kyi and Nelson Mandela in being awarded the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought 2013 by European lawmakers. Canada conferred honorary citizenship upon Malala while Amnesty International presented the ‘Ambassador of Conscience’ award to her in Dublin.

Featured on Time magazine’s front cover as one of ‘The 100 Most Influential People in the World’, Malala is the little girl the dreaded Taliban are afraid of and have vowed to kill. Given the honour of addressing the UN, Malala has already published her autobiography.

For some strange inexplicable reason there is complete silence in our media (and our government) about Maulana Fazlullah, the mastermind who ordered the barbaric attack on Malala. Neither has anybody really eulogised the heroic efforts of our army doctors in saving her life. Most ruthless among Taliban commanders, Fazlullah personally briefed two assassins about their intended 14-year-old victim.

Everybody and his uncle knows that this brutal sadist and murderer of young girls is an honoured guest of the Karzai government, given official protection by the governor of the Kunar province.

The capture of Latif Mehsud, a senior leader of the TTP by US Special Forces represents the smoking gun about the Afghan regime’s sustained involvement in terrorism in Pakistan. He was in the company of Afghan National Directorate of Security agents taking him to Kabul to meet senior government officials. This publicly exposed their venomous role in the planning and conducting terror incidents in Pakistan.

A prized asset of NDS for some time, Latif Mehsud was simultaneously on the Americans’ ‘most wanted list’. Karzai’s anger against the US for his capture lends credence to repeated accusations about NDS, and by proxy India’s Research & Analysis Wing, in sustaining the TTP’s brutal campaign within Pakistan.

The New York Times quoted the Afghans as proudly claiming having “made progress” over the past year killing Pakistanis. Disastrous for the Karzai regime (and the Indians), Latif Mehsud’s capture reveals to the US interrogators at Bagram the Afghan regime’s real face. So deeply incensed is Karzai personally that Aimal Faizi, Karzai’s spokesman, openly complained about the tactics employed by the US in the TTP man’s arrest. To their credit, despite Karzai’s fury (Daily Telegraph, Oct 13, 2013), the US signalled that as an enemy of the US Latif Mehsud would remain in their custody.

A spokesman of the TTP disclosed to a small group of reporters in Waziristan in early October 2013 that the Afghan regime financially supports Pakistani militants at war with Islamabad and provides sanctuary for them in Afghanistan. India’s RAW is deeply involved in anti-Pakistani activities.

According to a Sept 19, 2009 report by the Indian website rediff.com, “a report submitted to senior officials in Pakistan by a joint investigation team has allegedly claimed that the 23 militant commanders of the TTP who were arrested during Operation ‘Rah-e-Raast’, confessed the involvement of secret departments of India through RAW and Afghanistan (through NDS) in supporting militants in Pakistan to conduct target killings, bomb blasts, suicide attacks, assaults on civil and military installations and forced abductions including ethnic and sectarian violence regularly.

“The report confirmed their contact with militants in Jalalabad, Kandahar and Mazar Sharif providing financial aid, weapons and special training. They confirmed they met their Afghan collaborators via secret ways where they were invited to feasts and were provided weapons and money earned by the narcotics trade.”

In December 2011 an Afghan National Army officer colluded with India’s RAW and Afghanistan’s NDS to launch the November 26 Nato air strike in Mohmand Agency when 28 Pakistani soldiers were killed. The ‘Salala incident’ provoked an outrage across Pakistan following which Nato’s supply routes across the border with Afghanistan were sealed. Pakistan also boycotted the talks on Taliban negotiations in Bonn.

In the 1980s KHAD (NDS’s predecessor) masters were KGB; now NDS’s masters are from RAW, organising, financing and abetting acts of terrorism and violence in Pakistan. NDS does not deny this, claiming it is only tit-for-tat! For many years one of India’s ambassador to Afghanistan was a senior director of RAW.

A former COAS of the Indian Army, Gen (r) V K Singh, acknowledged – on investigation by his successor COAS, Gen Bikram Singh – sanctioning top-secret undercover operations against Pakistan through the specially created ‘Technical Services Division’ (TSD) in Balochistan (and Occupied Kashmir) without the permission or knowledge of his civilian superiors.

One of the most recognisable movie music themes ever written, ‘Lara’s Theme’ was the leitmotif written for the film ‘Dr Zhivago’. Leitmotif means “short constantly recurring musical phrase, associated with a particular place, person or idea”. While Lara’s Theme is hauntingly sad, Malala’s constant refrain is the education of all girls in the face of terrorist violence as well other handicaps and tribulations such as tribal customs and religious limitations.

Several thousands of our young soldiers have died fighting horrible people – like the Afghan NDS supported Maulana Fazlullah – to ensure that many young brave girls like Malala and their families can live like human beings. One must recognise all those in uniform who died (and are dying) in Swat and Fata while doing their duty, many of the shaheeds have brothers and sisters of Malala’s age. The older ones had sons and daughters of the same age.

Maj-Gen Sananullah Shaheed left behind two daughters (both about Malala’s age) to mourn for him. It would be nice of Malala to spare a word or two in gratitude, not only for those who have given the ultimate sacrifice of their lives but also for those that they have left behind to weep for them.

Malala’s father often emotionally recalls on primetime TV the Pashto song he would sing to give courage to his brave daughter. He and his family are fortunate that his daughter is alive and getting international acclaim for her courage. ‘Malala’s theme’ should also be an ode for all those who have died to keep her alive.

The writer is a defence and political analyst. Email: ikram.sehgal@wpplsms.com

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