Today began with an explosion of twitter feeds congratulating Malala Yusufzai and Pakistan on winning the Nobel Prize. BBC website confirmed the news a little while later. Living in Pakistan, where people are starving for good news, this was something to savour. And thus it was no wonder, that many people from Pakistan, at least through their “online avatars”, were celebrating what for them was a “National” victory.
A few hours later, a Facebook status update popped up, labelling “Malala” a prostitute. That wasn’t a shock, as there are elements in Pakistan that do hate her to the core. The appalling thing was the sudden surge of replies in favour of that update. The visceral hatred for Malala manifested in subtle comments like “Traitor” to the more hardcore “Whore” punctuated by the more sophisticated “Soul seller to the devil”. The venting of darker emotions for Malala quickly coalesced in thunderous clouds in cyberspace. Television talk shows that have become a favourite pastime for an increasingly politicized Pakistan will today dissect this achievement and decide the fate of Malala.
It was sad to see how Dr Abdus Salam (first Nobel prize) winner was treated by Pakistan. It is no doubt, that Malala will be treated in the same coin. It will be extremely hard for her to be able to gain the trust of the conservative masses in Pakistan. It will be extremely difficult for her to be accepted let alone feel welcomed. She has already been tainted with disingenuous accusations of blasphemy. For those who realize the sensitivity of Pakstani’s towards the blasphemy issue will realize how serious this is.
What is to be taken out from all this? Firstly, many people, not just Pakistani’s have lost the trust in global institutions and they are right too by the way. If Henry Kissinger, a proponent of wars and conflict, the planner for mass genocide through food control can be given a Nobel peace prize, then what other mass murderer doesn’t deserve it. Some may make the radical argument that even dictators have provided times of stability and peace. Thus for Nobel Prize to be seriously recognized and respected globally, it needs to recall the previous awards that were given to figures, whose legacies are stained. It needs to recognize and reward people whose personalities are shafts of light, whose contribution to calm and progress in peace is astronomical.
Secondly if Pakistanis cannot bring their hearts to like Malala, than at least they should stand up for her cause. They should celebrate the fact that right to education for women in Pakistan is not negotiable. They should take her mantle and champion this cause around the world.