“A nation that forgets its heroes will itself soon be forgotten” Calvin Coolidge
The idea of calling others lesser Pakistani, foreign-funded, anti-army is not something new. It has been used to polarize the common public and accomplish pity political interests. Historically, Fatima Jinnah, Bacha Khan, Zulfiqar/Benazir Bhutto and many of the likes were labeled the same to score political points by the establishment or those backed by it. This otherisation is symptomatic of dogmatic Pakistani nationalism which indoctrinates the misled Pakistani, who has nothing to show for their Pakistaniat except, anti-Indianism, anti-Israel and the cursory anti-Americanism. In such a polarized political atmosphere, one wonders what constitutes a good Pakistani and who defines that?
Interestingly enough, the majority of Pakistan will find the far-right propagandists ranging from, Zaid Hamid, Ansar Abbasi and Orya Maqbool Jan to religious extremists/terrorists say, Hafiz Saeed, Osama Bin Laden and the TLP goons more Pakistani than the actual contributors and soft imagers of Pakistan including, Dr. Abdus Salam, Malala Yusufzai, Jibran Nasir, and Pervez Hoodbhoy. This observation illustrates a lot about this phenomenon and fascinates a foreign observer who sees that many Pakistanis hold anger against the contributors and would rather celebrate the former than the latter!
One recent and a rather fascinating case is that of Malala, a girl celebrated by the whole world except, the country where she was born. That country has yet to come on terms with the fact the she is a genuine noble laureate and advocate for girls’ education. Her story revolves around the Talibization of Swat, she was the one to come out on streets for the reopening of schools when even the authorities, journalists and school units were helpless against the outlaws. She went out on Geo and exposed the looming Talibanization that was overtaking Swat and how it has led to the complete closure of schools and especially that of girls. Her activism first caused her to receive a letter from the leader of the Talibans, warning her to put an end to her activism, and later on, shot point blank in her school van, which she survived with freak odds. Bullet penetrated her face and with extremely inferior probabilities, she survived, escaping the long-lasting coma.
This consistent advocacy of Malala, won her a noble peace prize but costed her everything that she had from her country. Post to her noble, she was celebrated everywhere except Pakistan. Her own motherland, mocked her, propagandized her achievement and added her in the list of those who were historically called lesser-Pakistanis, foreign-funded, and a “Jewish conspiracy”.
Malala was heavily criticized for writing a book in coordination with Christina Lamb a British Journalist. A book outlining her journey and the insidious Talibanization of Swat District which overtook the heaven-like valley by surprised and brought the Pashtun culture on the brink of collapse. The book named “I am Malala” was hardly read by anyone and was added in the list of books which were equated with blasphemy. A source very easily sold in Pakistan to square personal, political and ideological points. She was never understood and discarded in the discredited bin of our accomplishers, previously occupied by our first Physicist Dr. Salam who won a noble prize in Theoretical Physics.
How does this even work one wonders? Why would a Pakistani celebrate dictators like Musharaf, extremists like Hafiz Saeed and Osama Bin Laden, propagandists like Zaid Hamid (who wishes to engage Pakistan in a holy war with India)? How can you openly show your support for Tahreek Laib Pakistan but fears to celebrate Malala or Dr. Abdu Salam? Why do we have our missiles named after insane foreign looters but nothing not even a district named after Dr. Abdu Salam?
Unfortunately, a designed strategy is at work which renders Taliban better than peace advocates and scientists, portrays dictatorship better than democracy and giving us an international image which qualify us to be labeled extremists, if terrorists is an exaggeration.
Many of the educated might come out and support Dr. Salam or Malala, but the collective opinion is supported in such a sway that it demolishes the reputation of a sane opinionated citizen and is cornered into silence. Now more than ever, we have to take a pause and reflect on our objectives and identity. Who we support decides our objectives and what we are headed towards. Warlords as our textbook heroes cannot inculcate scientific curiosity in the upcoming generations but a knack for extremism.