A Mirage called Malala

A Mirage called Malala: Another Daughter of the East? 
by Farzana Versey, CounterPunch, July 15

Had Edward Snowden exposed the dirt of the Taliban, he would have been standing behind the lectern in New York at the UN hall on Friday, July 12.

The contrast, and irony, is stark.

  • A young man is hounded by the government of his country for exposing its sly mechanism, of its covert war against the whole world, not to speak of its own citizens. He waits at an airport in Russia that had fought a war against Afghanistan, which was backed by the CIA.
  • A teenager’s birthday was officially declared Malala Day by the United Nations. She addressed a well-heeled gathering in the United States that was one of the two countries to oppose the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child; the other was Somalia.

Malala Yousafzai’s speech had a captive audience. 

Malala at the UN - Pic The Guardian

They wanted a cinematic moment. The gooseflesh groupies, including the mainstream media and urban Pakistanis, were not interested in going beyond the script of her address. They became the protectors of a girl who they could not protect in their own country. The legal imperative is not even considered to fight such cases. What bothers them is their pretty position would be threatened and questioned.  

Politician or puppet?

If we are to treat her as just a courageous 16-year-old, then perhaps we ought to disregard her role as activist. She cannot be hoisted as a symbol of resistance as a cocooned marionette.

In the very first sentence, Malala said it was an honour to wear a shawl of Benazir Bhutto. This was a political statement. From being a victim of the Taliban, she appears to be a “mind-controlled victim” of the elite. Like Benazir, Malala’s power comes from being wronged. Nobody will deny that they indeed were. However, the dynamics of power play are not about the literal, and this the souvenir dealers do not wish to understand.

When she was being treated at the hospital in Birmingham,  President Asif Ali Zardari visited her wearing a coat with a lapel that had her photograph on it; to honour her, he pledged $10 million for girls’ education to UNESCO because “sending girls to school was the best way to combat extremism”. While Malala’s school in Mingora, in the Northern region of Swat, was renamed after her, the President did not offer this money to a local organisation. To get legitimacy, it would appear the issue has to have global appeal.

The Interior Minister at the time, Rehman Malik, was quoted as saying:

"Until terrorism is over, she will continue to have security until we feel she is OK. You never know the circumstances, what will happen. The Taliban might be zero tomorrow. Still [while] we think or successive government feels she needs security, it is of no issue, to be honest, because she has become the icon of Pakistan, she has stood against terrorists and Taliban and she has become an icon for the education of young girls.”

Why do many Pakistanis refuse to see this as a convenient ploy by the leadership to put the onus on iconoclasm to deal with the issues, knowing well that this would work only as a mirage? Where are the political initiatives to tackle terrorism? Benazir Bhutto too supported the Taliban regime in its initial years to ensure that her position was not threatened. The progressive discourse overlooks the fact that she did not expunge any law that was anti-women.

Ever since she was shot at by the Taliban, the cheerleaders have expressed cursory concern for the “other Malalas”; the sidelight is brought out only as a nervous tic. Malala too made a nodding mention of her friends, now forgotten by everyone. They were also shot at, but not as grievously. Where are they? Are they protected? Any school named after them? No one seems to notice that despite her environment, she managed to learn, to seek peace, and to take on the militants.

The omission of any inspiring contemporary figure in her speech was startling. Yet, she managed to please the activists when she spoke about “hundreds of human rights activists and social workers who are not only speaking for their rights, but who are struggling to achieve their goal of peace, education and equality”. 

Students in Mingora (Pic: Pak Magazine)

It would have been politically incorrect for her to add that her sponsors and their allies not only kill civilians in the regions they occupy, but also employ child soldiers. In an earlier piece, I had raised these points: Is this courage or just canny marketing by consumerist consciences? Do we even pause to think about the consequences of creating or supporting such vulnerable ‘revolutionaries’? …Just think of the kids the US forces fought in Iraq and then took them captive to Abu Ghraib. Think about them in the Maoist Army in Nepal, as human shields in India’s Naxal groups, of them in Israel, of stone-pelting Palestinians now holding guns. These are representatives of their countries, not fringe groups.

Malala even sent out a message of forgiveness for the Taliban using time-tested figures: 

“I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists. I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there was a gun in my hand and he was standing in front of me, I would not shoot him. This is the compassion I have learned from Mohamed, the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. This is the legacy of change I have inherited from Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mohammed Ali Jinnah. This is the philosophy of nonviolence that I have learned from Gandhi, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa.”

This is what Barack Obama says. This is exactly what the West, specifically the US, has done with its neat division of good Talib, bad Talib. Besides, as America is due to exit from Afghanistan in 2014, it will have to deal with the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Whoever drafted Malala’s speech was taking no chances, even carefully omitting Hinduism, aware that it is a touchy issue in Pakistan where the infidel is associated with the idol-worshipping faith more than any other.

Besides, what change did Jinnah bring about? His major contribution was before the Partition and in helping to formulate the idea of Pakistan. He did not live to watch it veer away from the avowed secularism he hoped for. Malala recalling Mandela and Gandhi seems like a staple politician-beauty pageant fortune cookie moment, but Bacha Khan? He did not want to be with Pakistan and had specified that he should be buried in Afghanistan, to retain the purity of his Pashtun dream. Violence of thought is not something to be shrugged off.

Who is educating whom?

Like the caricature of the Taliban frightened of a girl with a book is simplistic, the catchphrase at the UN that day –‘Education First’ – is restrictive, especially when you consider the number of school dropouts in the West. But American kids willingly emptied their kitties for a charity that turned out to not only misuse the funds, but also mislead. Greg Mortenson, a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, who wrote the bestselling ‘Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time’ set up the Central Asia Institute charity that funds schools in the Balti region. President Obama made a handsome donation, and the book compulsory reading for the forces in Af-Pak.

However, the greater crime, as I wrote in the Counterpunch article Fabricated Philanthropy was “one by default – of whitewashing the image of the US administration, even if to a small degree. It has come to light that he was not kidnapped by the Taliban. In one of the photographs of 1996, his so-called kidnapper turns out to be Mansur Khan Mahsud, a research director of the FATA Research Center.”

Those who oppose religious factionalism that the Taliban propagates have been using religious arguments against militancy. Certain clerics had issued a fatwa against those who targeted the girls; the liberals did not know how to negotiate this similarity. Pakistanis have lived with their Islamic laws, so they cannot ignore the mullahs.

Such lounge activists do not take on the Taliban or the government. They merely participate in the usual candlelight vigils and sex up the debate with their passive-aggressive act. Quite reminiscent of what Madonna did soon after Malala became a talking point. At a concert in Los Angeles, the singer had said, “This made me cry. The 14-year-old schoolgirl who wrote a blog about going to school. The Taliban stopped her bus and shot her. Do you realize how sick that is?” As reported: “Later in the show, Madonna performed a striptease, during which she turned her back to the audience to reveal the name ‘Malala’ stenciled across it.”

When Malala mentioned the problem of child labour, it did not strike her that she is now even more a victim of it, albeit in the sanitised environs of an acceptable intellectual striptease.  

© Farzana Versey


Do read Our Guns, Children's Shoulders


  1. A most balanced piece and glad to see it from outside the west. Much luck to you.

    Ron L

  2. Read the Malala's Mirage. Respecting your opinion, I beg to differ as a Pakistani. Your two comments or innuendos regarding Hinduism and Jinnah are reflection of your own problems as an Indian Muslim. Before you comment on Jinnah, read Jaswant's book on our Father, i.e. Jinnah, which your "secular" republic has cared to Ban. I can let you have my copy when your journey is interrupted in Pakistan. You are the lost Muslim who needs to look over the shoulder to be reminded time and again your indianness. How many Muslim Fighter pilots IAF has ? Zero. I checked. How many Muslims in your vaunted Mil Intel? Zero. So we are fine here enjoying Beef steak in Lahore. Do try one in Alynto in Lahore. Medium Rare. Regards

  3. FV,

    I am sure you will write a similar, even-handed piece about how Ishrat Jahan's family is a puppet for vicious vested interests out to settle scores.

    I won't be surprised if you don't!

  4. VS,

    Your arguments were quite spirited and your information, presumably , updated. Bravo!

    Perhaps you can enlighten me on the following:

    1. How many Pakistanis exercised the freedom of religion and converted out of Islam in last sixty- or whatever - years?
    2. How many non-Muslim officers are there in Pakistani armed forces?
    3. How many non-Muslims are part of ISI?
    4. Why are blasphemy laws on Paki statute books when force in religious matters is against Islam?

    Pass me that beef steak while you fish out the answers, as I trust you will! Btw I am not sharing it with FV. She can order separately for herself! :)

  5. I think a thought... harbor a general unease/distaste for the eagerness with which people glom onto trends and determinedly stick to laid out narratives and you inevitably echo my thoughts and feelings on any given subject. Feels good :)

    'If we are to treat her as just a courageous 16-year-old, then perhaps we ought to disregard her role as activist. She cannot be hoisted as a symbol of resistance as a cocooned marionette.'

    Perhaps she's done what she was meant to do and now she's being turned into a symbol by forces beyond her control. I fear that Malala's precociousness has been mistaken for bravery.

    p.s. I cannot say I miss you too because whether I comment or not, I always do read you but thank you very much for your kind words :)

  6. UN speeches are historic dog and poop shows be it banging of shoes and waving fingers, tearing off of resolutions and tossing up the pieces in the air or turning aluminum tubes into mushroom clouds. And Malala ... a sugar cube in the three cups of pee.

  7. FV, It is fascinating how the same people in the US -- establishment people and US cronies in the UN -- that support the Taliban against the progressive Afghan govt., also find it necessary to make a song and dance about one of the Taliban's victims, Malala. The only suckers here are those who take the US and the UN seriously on their views on the Taliban. The USA fights the Taliban fire while feeding the Taliban flame...why? Enquiring minds want to know.


    This lovely office in the link above was built for the Taliban by the same people in the US government who are applauding Malala for her bravery. Playing both sides even as the US cuts and runs after getting its teeth kicked in by the Taliban in the US's "war on terror". Disgusting stuff, overall.


  8. I know that you can take it on chin or shin, you decide.
    Spirited I am as a Proud Pashtun, Regarding your queries 1 to 4.
    1. If you are a Muslim, on conviction, than need for conversion does not arise. Schisms are alien to Muslim thought, last time aruond a "infamous" colorful personality from Qaidian tried to rent asunder Islam. Look where it got him? Conviction is essential for being a Muslim. No free choices. You convert to Islam, from Jainism, Hindu or Sikhs, not vice versa.
    2. 1457 Officers in total of 19000 officers cadre, over thousands are Christian, including a 3 Star, Noel Israel. 2 Sikhs (Armor Corps, 17 Parsi, including General Kokibar Kaizad Manick Supariwalla. Hindus don't join, out of free will.No Bar though.
    3. ISI has as its head in Counter Terror our Illustrious Sirameses Rauf, Christian.
    4. Section 295 is part of Indian Criminal procedure of 1898. By your English Law Givers, we merely charge, overwhelming majority being Muslims of the charge.
    So, Miss ?? Mister, Foot loose, do come to Lahore, and see that we Punjabi/Pashtun combine thank, Nehru, Sardar Patel for giving us our Pakistan, and Indian nightmare called Pakistan.
    An Apt quote by our Noted Sikh Soldier, " Jinna Nuh Jangla lana ey, wo Jung Nahin lurday". Who put a fence themselves in, cannot fight. Our border our open, it is Indian jailed in by their Paranoid obsession with tiny weeny Pakistan. Stand and fight, then I treat you a Steak. Well done this time.

  9. VS: "3. ISI has as its head in Counter Terror our Illustrious Sirameses Rauf, Christian. "

    Hahaha. This VS is a riot. :) Points to the token sikh and christian in Pakistan while minorities like shias and ahmadis are being decimated for decades, with the pace only accelerating. And No, don't respond to this, VS. I am only watching your sputtering with rage from a distance. All these Pakistani religious bigots are incensed with Malala's speech for their own reasons, not shared by non-bigots.


  10. Ron:

    Thank you. I hope you did not look at it as an 'exotic' Eastern perspective!



    I have spoken about how Zahira Sheikh was made a puppet, and if I do believe that the same is happening with Ishrat Jahan's family, I shall do so. But not to please you or to prove you wrong. 

    Yes, I can predict a lot about you, too. 

  11. Dear Meriam:

    {...you inevitably echo my thoughts and feelings on any given subject. Feels good :) }

    Feels good for me as well! 

    {I fear that Malala's precociousness has been mistaken for bravery.}

    Yes. I think she is spunky, and has a father who works hard at his job of being father. The sons are rarely mentioned. Automatic reaction is: he stands for women's education. Anyhow, Gordon Brown gave him a job for it. So, everyone is a captive in some ways. 

    But, of course, we can't speak against the narrative of the cliques. How thy bludgeon you, directly or through innuendo. 

    PS: I thought you'd read me...and the occasional affirmation (could be disagreement) would confirm it! 



    You are right about UN speeches. It is the aftermath of UN incontinence, if I may, that bothers me. Or the hanging on to every drop and making it into a bubble. 


  12. VS:

    This is nitpicking. And interestingly you promote the book of an Indian, a former armyman and a BJP person at that, to get me educated about Jinnah. Thanks, but no thanks. Jaswant Singh is an opportunist. 

    {You are the lost Muslim who needs to look over the shoulder to be reminded time and again your indianness}

    I rarely look over the shoulder and prefer facing people/things. I do not need to be reminded of my Indianness, because I have internalised it. Only the insecure need to flash it, and those who cannot see it obviously wear an eye cast. It's a pity, really, for there is so much to visually explore in this world, besides binaries. 

    {So we are fine here enjoying Beef steak in Lahore. Do try one in Alynto in Lahore. Medium Rare. Regards}

    Did I ever suggest you were not fine? However, I think for the cause of Pakistan you ought not to reduce it to beef steak. Thanks for your suggestion, though. But I do not like steak, and do not eat beef. Does that sound rare?

    Regards to you, too. Since you might look in again, perhaps you'd like to read a more detailed account on Jinnah by me:


  13. Al:

    While it is not unknown, people choose when to express their anti-Americanism, which is really the government's policies. It is often the educate elite that has nothing to lose, sitting in their lovely homes and enjoying their steak somewhere.

    It would not be new to reemphasise that the US has created the Taliban, but I am convinced thatin some ways it is continuing to push its agenda and existence. Without such a group, the US government will not have a chance to assert itself.

  14. FV:"It would not be new to reemphasise that the US has created the Taliban, but I am convinced thatin some ways it is continuing to push its agenda and existence."

    Yes, indeed -- the Taliban in this case is controlled by the Pakistani army (as was openly acknowledged by Qatar and the US). Somehow, they get to harm people like Malala and get a seat at the negotiating table after being targeted by the US's "war on terror".

    "people choose when to express their anti-Americanism, which is really the government's policies. It is often the educate elite that has nothing to lose, sitting in their lovely homes and enjoying their steak somewhere. "

    Well said. I agree.



  15. FV, after shooting her in the head, the Taliban are using Malala's own words to get her back to the taliban's "school". This Taliban Adnan Rashis is a former Pakistan Air Force personnel too, apparently.



  16. My Dear Ms Farzana Versey,
    I did look into it again, as Rulers of India being us, the arrogant Pathan, I do empathize that you really have blocked your emotions internally, I did read your piece about Jinnah. Suffice, historically incorrect. Jamil Dhelvi did a better job in his movie, do take advice from my dear friend, Akbar S Ahmed, in American University in D.C. He live Jinnah.
    Knowing the context, I can only say apart from being detached, your journey is really interrupted. Since how many centuries of being lost, your family, after coming to India. You Indian Muslims are so prejudiced about Pakistanis, it boggles the mind. Indian comprehensions about logic & Cogent reasoning coming from a Pakistani, especially a Pathan confounds you. I am bemused by the comments of some one "watching me from a distance with Rage", is exactly the Mentality of Indians. Google it up, the exact quote, If I did did, you will accuse me of bigotry. But you have Narindra Modi for that. That itself shows the wonder, Horror & woe betide, any Pakistani who can take on Indians with "spirited" arguments, which your pettiness doest not give to Pakistani, the ability to tell Indians on their face of the deceit & delusional outlook and to humor them reminding them their slyness. Proves our point. Jinnah did well, when he joined the British conspiracy to cut India to size. That's itself a reason,for which you poor, poor Indian Muslims face the music. Need I remind you the riots in Gujrat when Pakistan Cricket beat India a few months back. Moreover It is this abject lack of truthfulness, when Jinnah left his beloved India and demanded and in "your face" attitude, Got Pakistan. And that is a Fact. It's a pity that Only true Muslim Woman who was "the soul of the Revolt" was no other than Bibi Hazrat Mahal, who led the original movement for freedom. Our Bibi was a Muslim from Lukhnao and yes she had that Handsome Raja Jai as her lover. But she taught us Pathan, from Rohilakhund a thing or too. Speak up or forever forsake your voice. India has a problem, it is Pakistan. Live with it. And we profoundly thank you, for keeping the Muslim Dream alight in India. Won't happen though.
    V Shah

  17. VS,

    QUOTE: "...You convert to Islam, from Jainism, Hindu or Sikhs, not vice versa..."

    Thanks for a clear cut answer without padding (Indian sekulaars will do well to imbibe this quality). However, we already knew that. Perhaps you guys could now stop whining about Islamophobia and bias and discrimination and such things. The reason is right in front of you. We Qafirs can always help you understand, if you so wish!


    QUOTE: "..Indian nightmare called Pakistan..."

    Delusions of grandeur have been an intrinsic part of Paki psyche ever since the country came into existence. I see no need to single you out for it. Please continue hallucinating if that is keeping you happy. I will, of course, pray that God shows you and your countrymen the true light. :)

  18. F & F,
    You said :
    "Delusions of grandeur have been an intrinsic part of Paki psyche ever since the country came into existence. I see no need to single you out for it. Please continue hallucinating if that is keeping you happy."
    what say about India Shining pal ?
    Look around a bit buddy. The false sense grandeur that you so sweepingly assign to "Pakistani psyche" spans way beyond Pakistani borders. Ain't it a rather nitpicking on semantics when you harp on the grandeur promoted by Pakistani ruling class and assign it wholesale to its masses ?

  19. "Ain't it a rather nitpicking on semantics when you harp on the grandeur promoted by Pakistani ruling class and assign it wholesale to its masses ?"

    It is not just India that has a problem with pakistan -- the rest of the world keeps pakistanis out too. All the hordes that support the assassin of the Punjab governor Mr. Taseer for trying to save a women from being executed for Blasphemy tells the rest of the world all it needs to know about Pakistan.

    But it would be wrong to have people like VS ignore their delusions about themselves and Pakistan's place in the world. I would like Pakistan to have more people like VS to destroy Pakistan from within -- self-destruction is the best path forward for Pakistan. Have you been paying attention to the NWFP and the durand line recently, VS? Don't look now, all is well. Please continue your harangue on India - it is very fascinating.


  20. Al dear,
    What does what I say equate with India's problems with Pakistan ?
    Another thing, me ain't VS.

  21. I read your article first in Counter Punch and felt depressed that you thought it worthwhile to attack a young girl, like Malala, to make political points that I would agree with when not used in a personalised attack on a young person.

    Her "fifteen minutes of fame" should have been respected. Heaven knows she deserved it. I would not want anyone to attack a child in any circumstances, least of all, to make some political point.

    I certainly hope none of your kith-and-kin are attacked like this young child was.

    Ms Versey, I will be interested to read your comments on the letter by the Taliban fighter, Adnan Rasheed, in the article
    Taliban's letter to Malala Yousafzai: this is why we tried to kill you"

    I much prefer the Pakistani author, Mohammed Hanif's, response to Adnan Rasheed in his article
    Dear Taliban leader, thank you for your letter to Malala Yousafzai
    to this one.

    Yours in sadness at the cheap shot you took at Ms Malala Yousafzi,

    John Pinto (Indian-origin)

  22. Oops, Bystander...indeed you are not VS, my mistake. I should have addressed it to you. Please consider it so.

    Regardless, I was just commenting on your comment that delusions of grandeur were limited to the pakistani ruling classes -- the attitude of the rest of the "unwashed masses" (as opposed to the ruling class) seems no different as they think blasphemy is a crime that should be punishable by death, and people who think blasphemy is wrong need to be killed for the sake of islam.

    Seems like the entire populace needs a psychiatrist to cure them of their myriad delusions instilled into them by their brethren in the armed forces and by the ruling elite with a lot of help from ex-best-friend USA (during the cold war).


  23. John Pinto:

    Thank you for your comment. 

    1. Would you be kind enough to point out the "personal attack"? I find the attitude by quite a few people of treating her as a young girl who needs their protection insulting to her effort, *prior* to when she became their property. They are the ones scoring political points. 

    2. You refer to her "fifteen minutes of fame" - who are you quoting? If it is for emphasis, then that is equally insulting to her, and then to say she deserves it. What she, and many like her, deserve is an opportunity. Not the coddlers, who will disappear in quicker than 15 minutes. 

    3. You say, "I certainly hope none of your kith-and-kin are attacked like this young child was."

    Appreciate your concern, but it is unfortunate that you have to say it. By this logic, you assume that all those who come out of the woodwork to support a young woman only after she is attacked (instead of working at creating an environment that is better, and incidentally there are schools in Swat where girls are educated, and the school Malala went to is still operating and has been named after her) have been through such experiences or 'taking up for her' is glorification enough to keep them safe. 

    They do not fight the laws. I have to repeat this because you clearly have not read the piece well. 

    4. Am glad you enjoyed Hanif's rebuttal to the letter by the Taliban. I have not yet read it. I am amused that you prefer what he has written to the letter by the Taliban. Naturally!

    Am not too sure, I will write about it, but if you do stop by again, you will see it. It would be a pleasure to get your feedback. 

    5. And, I am saddened that anybody could look at my piece as a "cheap shot". But, then, that's how the galleries work. If you have the time from letters by the Taliban, you might be able to see much more to it. However, it is your reading. Not mine. Ergo, your reductionism. Not mine. 

    PS: You sign off as a person of Indian origin. How well do you know Pakistani society? I do not believe you need first-hand experience, but may I add that I have met Malalas in their country, in their home, where even many urban folks from the salons of Karachi and Lahore do not go. 

    FV (Indian origin)

  24. FV

    A Paki who could write in reasonably good English, aparrently reads newspapers and has an internet connection proudly declared here that Islam is a one-way street and conversion out of Islam is rightly forbidden (He cleverly omitted any reference to specifics though). I am of the view that this position has a substantial number of backers in Muslim communities worldwide, from Pak to Arabia to Africa to Malegaon to Assam.

    Please express a point blank opinion on it, rather than tilting at random windmills and throwing red herrings for the rest of us.

    I do not think Hindutva, Babri and Narendra Modi are of any relevance. These bigoted and hateful attitudes have always been intrinsic to at least the practice of Islam, if not the message. In fact, Hindutva is a consequence and not a cause.

    My language here is harsher than I would usually like.

  25. FV,

    It is certainly interesting to see certain inflammatory losers demand answers to arbitrary questions on the behavior of other people, implying that you are some sort of representative for islam, when they do not have the decency to answer questions that are put to them and evade them oh so cleverly, while hiding behind a charade of good manners and etiquette, while pretending to represent hinduism.

    Projecting their own insanity on other people, clearly.


  26. Al,
    World History is replete with communal fault-lines exploited and encouraged by ruling classes with some of the tactics finding transient acceptance among masses (unwashed if you please). That makes the masses culpable and not culprit.
    You think in 1984, 1992 and pre world war 2 Germany, Vietnam - khmer rouge period (to cite a few instances) the communal rhetoric never gained currency among masses ? Does it make masses the culprit ? Will you treat masses on par with those instigated and facilitated these events ?
    All above said, I must thank you for a rather civilised response.
    p.s. : I also note you subtly shifted "goalpost" from grandeur to blasphemy, but fine as long as it is the same tune we are discussing.

  27. Correction to my earlier response......
    "That makes the masses culpable and not culprit"
    Is to be read as :
    "That makes the masses gullible and not culprit"

  28. AL,

    I think I am in love with you. Shaadi karo gay mujhe se? *gives you starburst twinkle eyes*

  29. Al:

    Let me translate. Meriam is asking if you'd marry F&F:-) *waves broom gives evil grin*...


    I officially announce that this blog is ready to work as marriage bureau site.

    PS: You never say such nice things to me :-(
    PPS: Al, tell me if you need more help with translation!

  30. FV

    Will you answer my questions if I said nice things to you?


    Good to see you again. What would I do without worthy souls such as yourself?

    I am dismayed at your support for selective expression of opinions (as distinct from answers. I am sure you mistyped!). I still hope FV will find time from matchmaking to enlighten my ignorant self. Fingers crossed.

  31. Meriam, It is hard to tell on the internet -- but I am blushing. Most flattered :) It is modern tradition in India nowadays to run around lamp-posts in the monsoon on such occasion, though FV is the bollywood expert here and we can possibly expect blogposts on the propah thing to do given that she has announced that this blog has now officially changed direction!

    FV, Please stop that evil grin, turn off the engine on the broom, and let us all know where we can send in questions and suggestions..oh, and congratulations on your new commercial venture. If I may ask, what is the new name for this blog? :P :) :)


  32. " That makes the masses culpable and not culprit. "

    bystander, Both the masses and the ruling classes started believing in their own delusions and lies in Pakistan, much like the Nazis did in Germany, or the communists in Polpot's regime etc. -- each group thinking they were the "chosen" race or smarter or more pious or clever than everyone else, until reality informed them otherwise. All of this just goes to show that any group can create delusions of grandeur about itself, mostly to its own detriment.

    "Does it make masses the culprit ? Will you treat masses on par with those instigated and facilitated these events ?"

    Mobs and masses don't have personality and character -- they usually just have the inertia of the ideas that drive them to coalesce into a mob. In pakistan, the idea seems to be one of superiority of one religion, or religious fascism, ably instigated by oil rich arab countries like Saudi Arabia and Qatar which believe in religious fascism and would not mind fighting down to the last pakistani to push such ideas, with the willing connivance/assistance of the Pakistani ruling classes and the armed forces.

    " : I also note you subtly shifted "goalpost" from grandeur to blasphemy, but fine as long as it is the same tune we are discussing."

    No goalposts here since this is cricket. I mention blasphemy because the acceptance of severe punishment as a just response to blasphemy is just a symptom of the religious fascism that is widespread in Pakistan -- theocrats and religious fascists have pushed the notion that insulting religious texts should be punishable by death only because they believe that their own religious delusions are completely true and anyone who says otherwise needs to die....sort of like the nazis and the communists and maoists of the past that committed enormous atrocities to "defend" their ideology via murders and executions and assassinations.


  33. FV, Don't you think people who don't have the decency to answer questions put to them should not make similar demands of others and then expect others to reciprocate? "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" Seems entirely reasonable to me in this context (and most other contexts too...)


  34. I am very fond of that young girl. She is just old enough to be able to well articulate what she believes in and just young enough to feel genuinely that idealism truly matters. It is because of young folks like her (and certainly not the couch-dwelling pontificators) that a country in such dire straits and so helplessly caught in the clutches of Islamic fundamentalism as Pakistan is still has a bit of hope left for the future.

  35. "It is because of young folks like her (and certainly not the couch-dwelling pontificators) that a country in such dire straits and so helplessly caught in the clutches of Islamic fundamentalism as Pakistan is still has a bit of hope left for the future."

    Really precious to see all this stupid pretense that a speech by a precocious girl who has endured much pain and suffering can make a difference in fighting hordes of violent, armed, barbaric terrorist and fundamentalist groups. Perhaps all the geniuses (like the one who made the above comment) who go around claiming "Malala gives hope to Pakistan's future" can explain to rest of us idiots how exactly that is all going to work out. Because I do not see how people armed with ideas and a pen can tackle violent hordes that support free thinking by separating the brain from the rest of the body -- violent hordes that push fascist tendencies/ideologies are unlikely to change their minds due to high-minded speeches by little girls at the UN.

    As someone remarked a long time ago on the right way to handle violent fascists of any kind: "you grab them by their family jewels and their hearts and minds will follow.


  36. F&F:

    Is this a courtroom or a police chowki where I am in the box? Why should I answer your questions that pertain to what somebody else has said? And, more importantly, for what has nothing to do with the subject? I know that is your area of interest, but I am not playing into it.

    I also hope you stop using "Paki"; that is the derogatory term used for S.Asians in the West. So, if you are in the UK or US you too would be a Paki for the punks there.

    And yes, how and what I choose to engage with and banter about is entirely my prerogative. You don't have to be 'nice' to me to get a reply. Check out your history here. I've replied despite it. That makes me the nice one.

    Jumma Mubarak!

  37. Al:

    A good discussion between you and Bystander. And thanks for using your 'name' in the marked field. I can now at least ferret out more easily.

    Re. the off-course conversation, here:

    Bollywood...running around trees
    ModiWood...running around lampposts

    I am always trying to stretch the limits of this blog, so anything new is good. It is entirely altruistic. No commercial interest.

    Now, if I may request you and Meriam and anyone else who comments on this to please use 'Wayward Thoughts' or any other blogpost for this chat, should you wish to?

    It is tempting for me, and indeed a reprieve, but since there is no 'nesting' of comments, it's difficult to keep up.


  38. Anon:

    It is good that you are fond of Malala. I do not think the article was discussing personal sentiments.

    Every young person is idealistic. They have dreams. It is the world that stops them. And that world includes those who decide on what the idealism should look like.

    This business about a country in dire straits forgets what our own country is like in terms of the girl child, among just one of the many issues.

    You also assume that those who are supporting her are not "couch-dwelling pontificators". Where were you sitting when you typed this out? Seriously, doling out fondness does not make one more aware. And certainly not an idealist.

  39. FV

    Thank you. Opinions, when not expressed, tend to be assumed by others. A Hindu espousing similar views about Hindu religion (as VS did about Islam) would provoke reactions that would be utterly dissimilar to what we saw here.

    I am not surprised, however. My conclusion about Indian discourse on sekulaarism being janus-faced has only been confirmed all over again. Thank you for allowing this greatly enlightening discussion.

    I am sort of happy that I am married and (hopefully!) no more in need of a marriage bureau. :)

  40. FV

    Allow me to take a bow for my two highly valuable linguistic contributions to the Indian political sphere: 'Sekulaar' and 'Paki'!

    I am writing to the speaker to include them in the list of permissible insults in Parliament! :)

  41. "It is because of young folks like her (and certainly not the couch-dwelling pontificators) (edited) Pakistan is still has a bit of hope left for the future."

    I would like the person who wrote this stupid comment to explain herself, if she can, or all of this can just be pegged as self-serving rhetoric only marginally better than having malala's name tattooed on one's backside (a la madonna) to "show support for a brave girl who is going to change the world".


  42. FV, the Taliban targeted Ms. Malala because her father was the education minister in Afghanisthan pushing progressive policies -- it is amazing that the blindingly obvious is beyond the line of sight of some of those pretending she is going to fix pakistan's problems. Simply fascinating.



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