By Sunil Kumar

In the land of glum; there was a smiling king; a rajah who lived happily ever after. Apt introduction; could be. But very difficult to write about “I am Malala”; the story of the girl from Swat.

Map of Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province...

Visit sunil-kumar.co.in Map of Pakistan’s North-West Frontier Province and Federally Administered Tribal Areas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

24X7 media has inundated us with news stories; so now celebrities are global icons; created when the high and mighty of the news elite decide to create a new face; that you know for a few split-seconds. The experience of humanity may help me empathize for that instant.

Malala Yousufzai is from Khyber Pakthunkwa; a new name for Pakistan’s restive North West Frontier Province. In a beautiful land where Buddhists and Hindus had created idyllic kingdoms; right from ancient times; there is now plunder, destruction, savagery and vile blood feuds.

Yousufzai’s book shows her devotion to her faith and essential humanity. She seems a genuine humanitarian; in a land of fanaticism and increasing religious intolerance. Like all Pakistanis; she seems to have grown up on Indian movies and television serials; along with hatred and admiration for the West. This memoir is clear and blunt; when it details the hereditary Pashtun code of honour and blood-letting. In another post on Ranjit Singh, the Lion(Sher) of the Punjab; which I plan to write later; there will be some mention of how this has existed for centuries; casting a long shadow on a remarkably tolerant and multi-cultural India.

In the schools and villages of Pakistan; India is looked upon with suspicion, jealousy and hatred. Malala wonders about the internal bickering between Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan and the Pashtun frontier. The modern-day state and its multiple feuds including one of the world’s most dangerous city, Karachi are described in passing.

For the most part; Malala believes in women’s rights and has faith in her upbringing.Like a true Pakistani; she has been brought up to admire the Gujarati Shia egotist founder of the moth-eaten fanatic nation, Jinnah. She wonders correctly about what he would think about the current country; but I’m not so sure.

The Quaid was a scheming manipulative lawyer; who was defeated by an equally wily Kathiawari; Vallabhbhai Patel. The fact that he was critically sick when the nation was formed was a fact he cunningly sought to conceal. His fear of Mohandas Gandhi and the Congress(of which he was once a strong member) was at its height at partition; and nothing could possibly deter him from this eventuality.

Lord Mountbatten in his usual British deviousness was probably in a hurry to attend a party back home; and preferred the Oriental nation to remain divided. Enough of the history. Back to Malala. She has displayed remarkable courage to stand up to a country that is now recognised as the global epicenter of terrorism. Her account of the support when she was shot; and her later life in Birmingham and the West make for some interesting reading.

The tinderbox of Pakistan seems to be always at boiling point. The book describes this in ample measure; with Benazir Bhutto’s assassination; the shooting of Salman Taseer; the governor of the Pakistani Punjab for his essential humanitarian gestures. Pakistan spends more than 7 billion dollars in an attempt to counter its enemies; with mostly India in mind. The port of Gwadar; in Baluchistan built with Arab and Chinese help is also partially geared at thwarting our nation.

Miles away; the nation of Bharat is forever engaged in internal bickering; that does not give it ample scope to interfere in Pakistan. For the most part; the mullahs and the people in that country have realized that the West with its double-speak and targeted drones are more dangerous foes; apart from the genie which they have themselves unleashed. From Abbotabad to Lahore; Shikarpur to Gilgit, Faisalabad to Peshawar, the country is under the control of the army, religious fanatics and the ISI. These are the words of the frenzied citizenry of the country; amplified in a million forums.

The best the country could do is attempt for positive change in its neighbour next door. Until then; the cosmic cycle of debates continues.


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