In a positive development in Pakistan, a fourteen year old girl was shot in the head but NOT for Blasphemy.
Malala Yousafzai, a ninth grade student from Mingora — (Editor’s note: There was some controversy as to whether she was a young girl or a grown man, but that controversy was settled when it was pointed out that adults in Pakistan usually dont have the courage to oppose the taliban) — who was an outspoken proponent for girls’ education rights, was shot in the head. Initial reports indicated that she was shot for being a Shia and the incident was largely ignored as a routine occurrence.
The next few reports from Mingora were contradictory. It was reported that she was shot for being an Ahmadi, and it was greeted with increasingly voiceferous media coverage expressing outrage that there were still Ahmadis left in Pakistan. A retired army general who also served as a diplomat, famous for his op-ed columns, claimed that he had personally traveled to the region, met the girl, spoke to local authorities, and reported that she was shot for blasphemy. It later emerged that like most op-ed columns in Pakistan, the op-ed columnist was making things up and had only gone as far as his bathroom.
Then it emerged that she was shot in the head for her vociferous support for women’s education in Pakistan. This was greeted by a huge sigh of relief by many who had gathered for a candle light vigil at the Lahore Gymkhana Club. A woman who declined to be named said
It came as a huge relief that she was shot in the head for supporting education. If she had been shot for Blasphemy we could not have gathered to protest na? At least it is now safe to express solidarity and outrage. I called up all my friends and said that it is safe to protest. You will be seeing more of us in twitter, TV, newspaper columns and marches. It is a huge disgrace that we had to be cooped up at home and not express ourselves because the shootings so far have been for Blasphemy. This shooting is a welcome change for all of us and is just what Pakistan was craving for.
Senator Rehman Malik who initially claimed that he would shoot any 14 year old girl who wanted to study with his own hands, recanted his statement and said that the perpetrators would be dealt with an iron hand. He also said that he could not rule out a foreign hand in the shooting. President Asif Ali Zardari in a speech recalled the sacrifices made by his wife Benazir Bhutto for women’s education in Pakistan in 1969, when she left to study at Radcliffe College to educate herself while being a woman. Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry when pressed for comments, directed the government to write to Swiss authorities for reopening corruption cases against Zardari. The rising politician Imran Khan said that drone attacks were responsible for girls wanting to study in Pakistan and the taliban reaction was a natural resistance for newfangled western ideas like education. Imran’s statement was met with dismay by some, but common pakistanis refused believe news reports or Imran Khan and were convinced that it was a Mossad conspiracy perpetrated by the CIA.
General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani was unavailable for comment as he had rushed to the US to demand drone technology and more air-to-air missiles to educate Pakistani girls.