By Mansoor Jafar
16 October 2013
Pakistan is a unique democratic country where the top layer of political leadership has been imported from the West. It is perhaps the only country in the world with the distinction of having two international bankers as prime ministers, Moeen Qureshi of the World Bank served as PM in 1993 and Shaukat Aziz of City Bank served as PM in 2003. Both were appointed out of the blue.
Next, Benazir Bhutto who earned the title of “Darling of the West” for her political grooming in London during self-exile, was suddenly sent back to win elections following the assassination of her arch rival retired General Zia-ul-Haq .
Loyalists of Nawaz Sharif call him “made in Pakistan” and when he became prime minister for the third time strong hope prevailed that the chapter of imported and West-loyal prime ministers was finally over.
Malala for Prime Minister?
But fate was not on the side of the Pakistani people yet. The teenage anti-Taliban education activist Malala Yousafzai, who is residing in UK after surviving a Taliban assassination attempt last year, is being tipped as the future West-backed prime minister of Pakistan, after she was denied this year’s Nobel peace prize last week.
Considering the speed with which the brave Malala, who miraculously survived a Taliban gunman’s almost point-blank shot, has been bagging award after award from prestigious world forums during the past few months makes it seem as though her stint as Pakistani prime minister sometime in the next 15-20 years is quite sure. Even her failure to achieve the Nobel peace prize surprised the entire world, especially her supporters in Pakistan.
To the surprise of many Pakistanis, Malala’s name as future prime minister was floated by none other than the progeny of Benazir Bhutto, her daughter Bakhtawar Bhutto. Taking her lead, a number of bloggers and host of users on social networking websites began discussing the possibility of Malala becoming Pakistan’s future prime minister.
It seems Bakhtawar Bhutto still believes that her mother was assassinated by Taliban. Although her father Asif Zardari has time and again declared he knows who killed his wife Benazir Bhutto, he always stopped short of naming names or dropping any hint to satisfy the millions of party workers, lovers and admirers of Benazir Bhutto all over the world.
As soon as she was tipped to be the strongest candidate for the Nobel prize, many began believing that she would emerge as the world’s youngest ever recipient of the Nobel peace prize. Her loss disappointed a great majority of political analysts and diplomats. Numerous rumors began when the Nobel went to the OPCW, the Organization for the Prevention of Chemical Weapons, which many believed was responsible for Bashar Assad’s acquisition of those chemical weapons he mercilessly used on the civilian population in August while the chemical weapons inspectors were in Syria to ascertain the allegations of Bashar having them. In other words, the award actually went to Bashar al-Assad indirectly.
The OPCW getting the Nobel prize was dubbed as foul play, a conspiracy against Malala and discrimination against Pakistan. Some say that nominating Malala was a conspiracy against Russian President Vladimir Putin whose daredevil heroics to prevent a U.S. invasion of Syria was actually the biggest service to world peace, the likes of which have not been seen by the world in decades. Putin has proved himself the most worthy of a Nobel, but the West pre-empted his selection by advancing the name of Malala. After the world opinion swung towards her, the prize was given to OPCW.
Though Nobel committee chairman made it a point to praise Malala and said she could be nominated again next year, the OPCW deserved it more and the nomination for this prestigious prize was itself a big achievement for a 16-year-old. Back home, the Taliban expressed satisfaction over Malala losing the prize in a close call, like she missed that bullet. They vowed to target her in the future, whenever possible.
On the Malala issue, the Pakistani nation is strongly divided into two groups. One praises her as the icon of education, women rights and bravery against the oppressive Taliban. While the other questions the West’s obsession with Malala as a sole crusader for women’s education. They say this view is highly exaggerated since, except for some Taliban groups, the rest of Islamic organizations support women’s education and consider women as privileged members of society. Her blasphemous writings against Islamic principles and ideals were a big source of hatred against her. Also, the West’s unusually overwhelming love for her and showering of all sorts of awards on her within a short span of one year makes her the top candidate for the darling agent of the West.
This group also questions why the West ignores countless number of other education loving Muslim girls killed by U.S. drones and carpet bombings in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why the education activist of Karachi, Perveen Rehman, was ignored despite the fact she was shot dead. Why the other two colleagues of Malala who were wounded with her were ignored for many months and were taken care of only after media questioned this discrimination.
Whether Malala is a heroine or not, the silence of those who are not supporters of the Taliban and acknowledge women’s right to education is very significant. This should also be looked into if U.S. aggression and drone attacks are strengthening the Taliban, rather than eliminating or neutralizing it.
Mansoor Jafar is Editor of Al Arabiya Urdu based in Islamabad.