I don’t see it this way. There are areas that need to be explored beyond what is available to us.
Reproduced here is an excerpt from a letter…I have withheld certain details for the individual may not wish to make known his profession or location and has not posted at the website:
I am referring your article Untouchable AafiaI cannot claim expert knowledge and I am aware of their work during the earthquake and floods, but where an individual case is concerned I am wary about religious groups getting into the picture and furthering a stereotype, however faulty it be. Why religious, I would say the same about certain vested interest activist groups.
It is excellent. But I am surprised about your comment ‘The Jamaatis who would want their women in purdah and left uneducated, barefoot, pregnant and most certainly not in the lab’, I don’t know is it because of ignorance or bias?
We worked in a flood relief mission of a Jamaat e Islami affiliated body. It has a women wing as well with well educated medical professionals including Medical College professors. They work in flood affected areas where secular NGOs are largely absent.
We are surprised to see their professionalism as well as commitment. Their affiliated bodies have opened large number of girls schools in rural areas.
I am a keen observer of Pakistani English press. Unfortunately large number of its columnist write to satisfy their ego rather than deal with facts. They talk to themselves and their colleagues. I see a difference in your writing, but partially.
May be you are ignorant of what really Jamaatis are.
I have already mentioned in my reply to Yvonne Ridley at the site my intention:
As one who has written about the Jamia Hafsa women as legitimate protestors, I would not tar any organisation with one brush. It is important for me to reiterate that I was positing two extreme stereotypes to drive home a point.This brings us to the completely weird support of the peroxide blondes. I wish there was some understanding of the deliberate ‘characterisation’ I was indulging in.
You are right about the ‘peroxide blondes’ earlier enthusiasm; Aafia is their discomfort zone right now. I am afraid that the half-hearted liberal support is full of ‘ifs and buts’. The JI may be in the forefront, but as I stated, I think they will force or be pinned to the Islamophobia tag, which helps no one.
Here is one example posted at the site:
These peroxide blondes (your disgust and bias is obvious) have just come off the movement of restoring of judiciary expressing on everyone of us to respect judiciary. How can they now go against it and tell us not to respect decision of judiciary? You expect double standard from them? Damned if they do damned if they don’t.
Wow! Forget my bias, this is precious. They restored the judiciary? And what is the chief justice’s standing as of now? What is the Pakistani judicial system doing, really? And these people are going to sit and respect a decision when they are not one bit affected and we are expected to see them as holding a stable stand on the matter? Please. This is sheer bunkum. Respecting the judiciary does not mean blindly accepting any and every verdict, but understanding that the victim has recourse to legal aid and justice.
The onus is not on the victim to prove she is innocent but on the courts to prove she is guilty. And guilty in clear terms of the guilt and not the possibility of guilt. That is what courts are for. And then these people want facts of innocence.
Someone even wants to know why I wrote in Aafia’s favour despite knowing about her guilt. Did I? Where did I state it? Of course, the person has an analysis, and it makes for some chuckles as to my motives for writing this column:
There could be two possible reasons. 1. to collect few extra claps from Mullahs and Mullies who are a obvious majority in Pakistan. 2. the usual infection the Muslims are prone to; the rediscovery. In males the symptoms are instant growth of beard and in females, the sudden or gradual disappearance of a woman beneath the burqa.
I am discarding the second possibility as I don’t see your fresh photograph wrapped in scarf with this article. If the first reason is true then that would be outrageous. As you are well aware of the fact that a few brave men and women in Pakistan are busy waging war against loony mullahs and their wretched self exploding followers.
You may call these brave people peroxide blonds, but they are the only hope left for Pakistan. They are the ones who are fighting to keep the sanity alive in the land of the nuts. It take a lot of courage to challenge herds of lunatics while living amidst them. Even people of great stature such as Mr. Kamran Shafi are not spared.
Instead of extending a moral support, you ended up handing over more ammo to the Jihadis by writing this foolish article.
Since the Jamaatis have questioned me, the first option too is out. What I find amusing is that many of these people have never been to Pakistan, do not know any real Pakistanis outside of the internet world and the media, and suddenly they see these neo-concerned women and their bravery captured on TV channels. They have no clue about the real work being done by real people – men and women – for years before these people tried to bring ‘sanity’. Their sanity is a specific limited version that helps them keep their lawns mowed and in fine fettle. They have not had to battle the government and its policies on the ground, they have not been hounded, and they are most certainly not the only hope. If they are the hope that the outside world sees, then it is much like the India Shining flag that flies full mast way above the poverty line, which is more than half our population.
Pakistan has its own problems and its hope lies among different sections of people doing different things. There are women in the villages, women in the NWFP. There cannot be one group taking over and being the media mouthpieces.
These people will take up a case only when it suits them at a given time. I don’t have the time or the inclination to extend them moral support. Especially, not anything moral, which really gets them to do a little gig because it imbues them with a halo.