Sir: Gulmina Bilal Ahmad’s article, Maligning Malala (Daily Times, July 19, 2013), is a very timely reminder to the progressive people of Pakistan, and the views expressed by Ms Ahmad are admirable, to say the least. Having said that, it is also important to mention that she could have avoided a few generalizations that also malign the majority of the decent people of Pakistan who do not fit her description.
When I speak with Pakistanis I see them divided into two equal groups. On one side there are people who support and love her courage, as I do, and then there are those who object to the unlimited attention being paid to one person, while many others like her killed in US and Taliban attacks are ignored. The creation of the latter perception is not pushed by all the media as Ms Ahmad incorrectly claims but a by few television channels, Urdu newspapers as well as certain members of the nationalist and religio-political elite. The Pakistani state has never disowned Malala. I remember that PPP’s government actually sent very supportive signals, helped her to settle down in Birmingham and gave her diplomatic assistance. As far as social media is concerned, it represents a fraction of Pakistani opinion makers and is only expressing their frustration instead of being anti-Malala. Another glaring mistake Ms Ahmad is making is to use words and phrases like we, the entire state of Pakistan, our war, foreign interventions, afraid to raise our voice, etc.
I am sure that Ms Ahmad is aware of the fact that Pakistan is 200 million strong, and that the majority of its people are peaceful, who dislike Taliban and extremists who kill in the name of Islam. I see Pakistani television programmes on a regular basis and I am really glad that there are many journalists, commentators and politicians who reject terrorism, criticise religious bigotry and are not afraid to speak up.
Brussels – Belgium