On Malala

Oct 2012
By M.T.

It’s heartening to see Pakistanis take an eager interest in the fate of Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old shot in the head and neck by the TTP. Our capacity for collective horror at this insensible act is a marker of our ability to be moved by the tragic and to be shocked by the cruel. That ought to be an unsurprising and mundane observation; yet when it comes to Pakistan, the country forever at the brink, the cauldron of chaos according to the MSM, such an observation becomes an assertion of a Pakistani humanity torn from us daily in the pages of the most esteemed western publications.

So, that is first point.

The second is to query what or who, rather, lurks beyond the limits of liberal empathy? Here, I am not only speaking of Pakistanis. Much like Malala, unnamed children in FATA too have suffered, not only from Taliban violence, but also from American drone attacks which have injured, maimed, and ripped to shreds dozens of children. In fact, it was 175 at last count, according to the Bureau of Investigative Journalists. Why do these children present the limit-case of our ability to be shocked, to be horrified, to be angered? Here is Nadia, for example, 10-years-old sitting at her doorstep. She lost her mother and father to Hellfire missiles:

Photo from the Columbia Center for Human Rights

Of one form of violence, we feel so much; of the other, nothing at all. Traverse the space between one child and the other: humanity and its nullification.

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