Adnan Rasheed’s letter was a real disappointment
Who in Pakistan doesn’t love a good conspiracy? We all have our own fables, tales and stories to tell. And Pakistan, it seems, is at the heart of many schemes, plots and plans. Adnan Rasheed’s letter was a real disappointment. Not only did it leave many unsettled – for you can’t claim that the Taliban are only from Afghanistan – it also brought to light a lot of nonsense that we’re all encouraged to stamp our faith on.
For starters we can no longer give an argument for the good, bad and ugly Taliban. Rasheed is such a well-meaning and kind hearted fellow, he’s obviously a part of the good Taliban. His shock at Malala getting attacked is obvious; he didn’t think his Taliban brothers would go that far. It is after all unheard of for the good Taliban to target women and children; they also take careful consideration of the old and the poor before bombs go off. And if you’re from the right faith then you’ve hit the jackpot of their arsenal – literally. The lad refuses to comment on the rights and wrongs of attacking Malala ‘islamically’. Possibly to ensure he doesn’t get a good spanking from his commanders later for denouncing their very comprehensive press release. The said document was officially handed out by the Taliban elaborating precisely how it was islamically appropriate to attack a 16-year-old to be killed. Although it is possible that Rasheed never got the copy, he has after all been in hiding for most part of the last decade.
Rasheed helps clear out all the propaganda against his brothers. The Taliban aren’t against educating anyone, and there were thousands of girls going to school before Malala who were never shot. In 2009 alone, around 130 girls schools were blown up in Swat. That same year attendance to schools fell by more than half of the female student body. But Rasheed is sure that education wasn’t the reason that schools for girls were being targeted – both the military and the Taliban were taking up residence within these schools and hence they had to go. He further went onto explain how girls schools helped the local administrators fill up their pockets with money since the locals care so much about female education. Had that been the case I suppose there wouldn’t have been a Malala crying for an education to begin with.
Many are turning Malala’s efforts into a white man’s shame, Rasheed is no different. It is white supremacy, they save one girl and help eradicate the horrors that they’ve delivered to the area. The drone strikes – which the Pakistan army has officially admitted mostly only killed militants – are forgotten by Malala in the face of her speech on education. It’s a Jewish conspiracy and the western world is trying to tear us all apart, by building schools. The Pakistani people aren’t doing it, the UN Habitat is. The typical apologist attitude continues as Rasheed in his letter informs Malala that the people of the subcontinent were once a great people – it was the white man that took our values and smothered them under the cloak of his English. We don’t care to work hard or do anything to get back on the horse, however. And we will continue to look for no ways to get out of our mess on our own, no. Racism, ethnic violence, poverty and similar problems had once inflicted the western world (as it still does today, but not to the same degree) but unlike us they wanted to rise out of it, and they did. And I don’t think Rasheed remembers this, but the subcontinent didn’t just consist of Muslims, nor were they ever in the majority.
If being “English” means going to school then one can only hope that this nation changes as fast as possible. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that I’d rather be an educated Jewish slave than be an enlightened Muslim living in hiding in a cave. The letter dwindles forward into another important point: the Taliban only implement what’s in religion, they’re following the Islamic faith as is. So if Malala accepts his offer and turns back to her roots we will be proud as a nation of a 16-year-old suicide bomber looking to take down a library. The Taliban don’t like women out of their homes, but don’t mind a confident, independent young female recruit into their suicide bombing division.
Adnan calls the UN stage one of injustice. The fact of the matter is that Pakistan is in no position to ask for justice. We’ve developed trust issues in our love affair with almost every nation that we interact with. From playing both sides with the US to not really doing much when Chinese workers are killed on our soil, we fail miserably at being friends with anyone. And in that failure we sit and lament our vices and our weaknesses, never trying to solve our problems even once. Our younger brother, Bangladesh, is way ahead of us; even the Afghan currency ranks higher than ours (and those people live in caves, literally). What Rasheed wants is special treatment, he first shuns the west, the white man and the Jews and then he expects them to make special provisions for this country – their failure is labelled injustice. Rasheed epitomises the very reason the West should never trust this country: he abandoned his duty to his country, tried to assassinate his own leader, and then went into hiding. His remarkably one-sided argument punches the audience with one conspiracy theory after the other. Malala really could be playing into the devil’s hand. The best part is he goes onto quote Bertrand Russell, the father of agnostics, to make an argument in favour of his religiously fuelled Taliban brothers.
A half-baked list of deserving victims who would benefit from a “day” more than Malala would resides within Rasheed’s essay on what’s good and what’s evil. Although a more appropriate, and far larger, list could be sent back to the Taliban listing all the people and families they’ve torn apart. The bright young Taliban believes that no one of consequence would have bothered with Malala had she been a survivor of a drone attack. And it’s awkward to say this: but no one would have come to talk to her after a drone attack, those attacks have primarily only killed militants.
Rasheed ends his letter by wishing a lot of people would learn compassion so that they stop spilling the blood of Muslims. He talks nothing about the Taliban learning compassion and behaving like human beings – perhaps because that’s like asking for too much, even he doesn’t expect to elicit such a response from his own. Not surprisingly, the 50,000 civilians and 5,000 law enforcement personal from Pakistan dead because of the Taliban’s presence in the country, went unmentioned in Rasheed’s little note.
Is there any space in the new world order, Rasheed asks, for what the Taliban stand for? I sincerely hope not. Like many Pakistanis who love their dose of good conspiracy theories, Malala’s pen pal gave us a good read. He talks about Jews, he talks about the west and their hate, he even drags in the polio team. The letter to Malala could be expanded into a bestselling book called: “Pakistan’s most favourite but baseless conspiracies”.
The writer is a journalist based in Lahore. She can be emailed at [email protected] She tweets @luavut