Malala Yousafzai made history when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Only the second Pakistani to be awarded a Nobel Prize, she is also the youngest person in the world to be recognised with the prestigious award. Congratulatory messages were forthcoming from the highest offices in Pakistan, but not everyone was celebrating.
The Taliban rejected the award, terming the youngest Nobel Laureate as ‘agent of kuffar’. However, this was to be expected. What is more troubling is that this Taliban narrative has so permeated our society that it is being repeated ad nauseum by common people across the nation.
One Pakistani whose tweet received a lot of attention is Badar Kushnood, Google’s Pakistan Country Consultant who termed Malala’s award as a black day for Pakistan.
— Badar Khushnood (@badar76) October 10, 2014
This was only a drop in the sea of negative reactions from Pakistanis, though. Common people were parroting the Taliban, terming her as a foreign agent.
Even Army itself found itself the target of venomous attacks after DG ISPR congratulated Malala.
@AsimBajwaISPR shame on u sir she is enemy of pakistan and pak army congratulate her? Zionist Agenada i thnk u r also a part of this agenda
— Tigress of IK:-) (@MehkiMasood) October 10, 2014
She was accused of being anti-Islam
Those who want tou know the reality of malala, go nd read her book, anti islam so thats why she get this prize — Muhammad Naeem (@mnapakmof) October 10, 2014
She was accused of being American agent.
— Muhammad Tariq Bilal (@MtariqBilal) October 10, 2014
Many of these tweets came from PTI supporters. This does not mean that PTI is anti-Malala. Actually, Imran Khan Tweeted a congratulatory message to the Nobel Prize winner as did Army. This is what is most worrying: Army and Imran Khan have lost control of their own followers.
Today, the extremist narrative has become so ingrained in the Pakistani consciousness that when Army praises a Pakistani, they are accused of being traitors to Pakistan. When Imran Khan praises a Pakistani, he is ignored by his followers who spread the Taliban message instead.
Of course, both Army and Imran Khan share some responsibility for this mess. Imran Khan condemned the attack on Malala, but refused to name Taliban as her attackers, opening the door for confusion and conspiracy theories to spread and take hold. Likewise, Army’s own confused “Good Taliban/Bad Taliban” stance has given space for extremists to spread their propaganda.
Reactions to Army’s and Imran Khan’s statements a few days ago are a warning that the Taliban mindset has taken root. What more proof is needed than the fact that Army can praise Malala, but still she cannot return to Pakistan without facing certain death.