Farhan Virk — the wannabe star who is actually a fraud


Photo by @drkhanns

Farhan Virk, the infamous self-proclaimed Social Media ‘activist’, turns out to be a fraud. Not just an ordinary fraud, but a big one…the criminal level! Virk who is now considered a mighty on Twitter rose to fame by impersonating nuclear scientist Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan.

For a long time possibly years he led people into believing he was Dr Abdul Qadeer Khan by acting as such and impersonating. He posed as Dr AQ Khan, tweeted as Dr AQ Khan and participated in Twitter conversations as Dr AQ Khan — something of which the real AQ Khan had no knowledge.

Virk has been on deleting spree after tweeps have done amazing work exposing his hypocrisy by posting some interesting blast from the past.

Here for example, Virk is posing as Dr AQ Khan, narrating how Musharraf was gonna sell him to the CIA…how cliched can he be? Hint: Check people’s responses to the tweet. These are the people who were lured in thinking they were talking to AQ Khan.


Photo by @TheSoomro


Here’s another one, poor Virk served the country all his life and gave us nuclear weapons.


Photo by @drkhanns


And this one is damn too funny to miss. Even famous journalists like Wajahat S Khan fell into trap.


Photo by @Imranlodhi1


So was this a fan account Virk was running? NO! This was a classic example of impersonation…the one that lands you in federal prison for years. Here, I’ve managed to get another blast from the past. See what he claimed in the Twitter bio:


This is the guy who preaches morality day and night on Twitter, bullies secular, liberal and progressive Pakistanis, is responsible for half the right-wing trends on Twitter and his actions? Impersonates and defrauds others as a shortcut to success. And then says in his current Twitter bio:

A common man fighting Status quo, Medical student, Blogger, Social Media Activist, Travel Writer, Debator, wanna be Hussaini as.

Here’s a news flash for you! YOU ARE the status quo and corrupt mafia you proclaim to be fighting against! Be grateful Dr Qadeer hasn’t slapped you with a million rupees lawsuit. With evidence so dire, you could be locked up by FIA in Adiala jail Rawalpindi for at least a decade.

And I want to say to the PTI: It’s people like Virk who earn you titles like trolls and internet bullies. I wouldn’t be surprised if Virk was the one to start an assembly of trolls. Bottom line: You have to disown him and his likes before they bring more bad name to your party!

Well, you saw him on Mubashir Lucman’s show, what did you expect?


What Pakistan can learn from India’s Daughter


jyoti-mar5I finally gathered some courage to watch the much-talked-about India’s Daughter documentary by BBC Four. Going over the gruesome details of the gang-rape and murder of Jyoti Singh was gut-wrenching to say the least. The documentary highlighted the extent of the rampant problem of rape in India and people’s attitude towards it — the one that is the direct consequence of the deep-rooted patriarchy.

Like it was shown in the documentary, the natural reaction of the offenders and their apologists is “she deserved it” or “we did it to teach her a lesson”. One would hope to see the convicted rapists and murderers to show some remorse during the interview in the documentary, only to be disappointed.

So, other than bashing India and cheering that they have achieved extremely bad press, what does this documentary and the whole Jyoti Singh case mean for Pakistan? Is our rape problem any different? Are we any better? I’ll leave that for you to answer… can you swear to God and say that watching this documentary wasn’t like looking in a mirror? Rape, honour-killing, Wani and the deep-rooted patriarchy…sounds familiar right? The only difference, perhaps, is that several rape cases go unreported due to the reasons like shame, trauma and the legal system here.

There might be one other difference; India has actually started addressing the problem. Have we? Don’t be misguided by Punjab Chief Minister’s full page ‘women protection’ advertisements. The only way out is to truly tackle the problem. Following are the lessons that us, Pakistanis, should seriously learn from Jyoti Singh, the unfortunate India’s (or should I say South Asia’s) daughter.

1. Women are equal to men

Jyoti Singh and her parents’ message that is now reaching out to the masses teaches us the most basic lesson about the humanity; i.e. men and women, daughters and sons are equal. Women have a right to have ambitions and dreams; and a right to equal opportunities to achieve those dreams.

2. Break the silence

We have to commend people in India to come out on streets and break the silence. That is what we need to do here in Pakistan. Instead of urging rape victims to remain silent, we need to do our part to get help (psychological, trauma management and legal etc) to the survivor.

3. Awareness and Education

As sickening as it was listening to rapists’ defense lawyers telling how they were ‘proud’ of their ‘culture’ of treating women like objects; and how he would have burnt his own daughter had she been out late with a guy, it didn’t surprise me a bit. As someone from South Asian background, we’re used to hearing misogynistic and patriarchal slurs from people; especially men around us. I remember how a superior at one of the organizations where I worked once told me women are of ‘faulty-intellect’ by default; and how a female colleague once told me she doesn’t want rights because if women were in leadership place, the world would go upside down; Stockholm syndrome much?

And then we have religious leaders — some even educated (apparently) ones like Dr Zakir Naik — who say the way a woman dresses is to be blamed if she is raped. It’s time we started questioning these absurd beliefs. People need to be educated and made aware about gender-equality, rights and boundaries.

An individual’s voice might only falls to the deaf ears but with support from the civil society, community based organizations and the power of media, the ball can get rolling.

I can break it down to specifics if you still don’t get it:

– Staying out late doesn’t make her of bad character

– If you can wear whatever you want, she can too

– No, the way she dresses doesn’t mean she’s asking for it… the problem is with your gaze and instinct to assault someone

– She has a right to equal education

– She has the right to work along side men, and on equal footing — and just because a woman is working doesn’t automatically means she has a bad ‘character’. Because by your definition of character, she will be bad no matter what she does.

– She is equally capable of assuming a leadership role

If we still don’t get it then the joke is on us because we’re no different than those horrible men we saw in the documentary.

Only in Pakistan can women become ‘white’ and men restore their ‘manhood’ using soap


This blog post was originally published on The Express Tribune Blogs

Screen grab from Macho soap commercial

Screen grab from Macho soap commercial

It is unfortunate that even in today’s day and age we have issues concerning gender identity. In fact, they have become more complex than ever and people are seen spewing offensive slurs at those whom they believe don’t adhere to their idea of a ‘specific’ gender.

What is worse is that things don’t end at picking on effeminate men or masculine women; it goes as far as people wanting to restore traditional (read: ancient) gender roles where men are the bread winners for the whole family while women are ‘property’ that stay home, serve their men and pop out babies.

As if hideous products like that ‘whitening soap’ named after and endorsed by an elderly celebrity that encouraged women to change their skin colour to white wasn’t enough, we now have a soap promising to restore your ‘macho manhood’ just by using it.

Let me walk you through the advertisement of this ‘manly’ soap.

The ad begins with a frame showing a couple of guys sitting together, feeling insecure and uncertain whilst they check out a good-looking girl, not really sure if they should ask her out or not. After some time, one of them gathers the guts to approach her – only to get turned down. After this, a supposedly attractive man appears on a bike and, predicting the obvious, all the women start ogling him, while the other guys start feeling even more insecure and pathetic. Suddenly, the attractive man screams in a high pitched, squeaky voice and shouts ‘badtameez’ – only God knows why – and everyone starts laughing at him. Then what is seen is a vision on its own: animated flower petals begin to flow out of the attractive man to depict that he smells like flowers. Perhaps it was the advertiser’s idea of a joke and wanted you to think that the man was screaming like that because of the soap he used. Instantly, in the next frame, the voiceover goes,

“You shower with a beauty soap and then show attitude as well?”

And then a shirtless, and might I add completely hairless, Caucasian-looking guy appears and tells you to use this ‘man-soap’ (yes, apparently it’s a thing) for it has a “storm of freshness and confidence”. Also, might I add, the motto of the soap is “mardon ka bharam” (men’s attitude).

Seriously? Is this how low our advertising agencies have stooped?

I can’t believe that the ad executives or whoever is behind creating this abomination are this ignorant! Are they telling us that men with high pitched voices or men who use beauty soaps are not real men? Who are they to pass such judgments?

I wish it was only these marketing executives who thought this way but it looks like we, as a society, are used to these kinds of stereotypical ideas. Lets jog your memory, shall we?

Recently, Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) held a jalsa in Karachi and the chairman of the party was insensitively referred to as ‘gay’, ‘hijra’, ‘girl’ and was also bestowed names like ‘Billo Rani’. Why? Just because he comes off as what one might call as a little ‘effeminate’? Do we really think this little of our women and transgender community that, if we have to insult someone, we compare them with women and transgender people?

All of this may be very amusing to you today, but let me tell you something, to the people behind that soap commercial and all those who subscribe to the stereotypical ideas of gender roles and identities, what you’re starting now doesn’t end here.

Soon, there will be people – in fact there already are such people – who say that ‘real men’ have body hair (sorry soap guys, even your projection of a ‘real man’ can’t beat that), men don’t wear pink, women don’t wear blue, and so on and so forth. Stereotypes like these have a domino effect and before you know it you will be hearing someone say that women can’t work in leading roles and men shouldn’t cook. And shortly after that, you will hear others saying women shouldn’t work at all. And this will continue until we go back to living like cavemen.

Is that really the kind of world we want to live in?

Inter-faith dialogue: Where are we going wrong?


This blog post was originally published on Laaltain magazine

ashrafiWhile lurking around my Twitter timeline one morning I came across a tweet by Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) Chairman Hafiz Tahir Ashrafi, a repost containing a link to his article about inter-faith and inter-sect dialogue from a couple of months earlier. Realizing I had nothing better to do, I decided to engage with Mr. Ashrafi by asking whether Ahmadis were part of this ‘inter-faith dialogue’ he was championing. Much to my surprise, he actually responded by saying:

It’s not a surprise that a vast majority of Pakistani Muslims regard members of the minority sect Ahmadiyya as non-Muslims, with hardline clerics insisting that it is a different religion altogether. But what Tahir Ashrafi said in the tweet was a step further. Maulana actually claimed that “Qadiyani [a derogatory term for members of the Ahmadiyya community] is not the name of any religion” implying his refusal to recognize Ahmadiyya as a faith altogether.

With my curiosity now aroused, I tweeted back asking whether or not the purpose of inter-faith dialogue was to stop religiously fueled attacks on minorities like the one that took place in Gujranwala recently, resulting in the deaths of a woman, two minors and an unborn child belonging to the minority Ahmadiyya sect.

As expected, I did not hear back from Maulana.

The need to satisfy my curiosity then took me to Maulana’s article in the Daily Times, in which he boasted about the success of his ‘inter-faith’ dialogue efforts. However it was evident that there was no representation of the Ahmadiyya community in his article, an absence which Ashrafi probably justified by the opinion he presented in his tweet.

But then he claimed “[…] the representatives of all sects and religions also agreed on a code of conduct during the conference.”

So I want to ask him, is it really an ‘inter-faith dialogue’ when there’s no representation of a faith that has been persecuted for decades?

According to the article, all other Muslim sects decided for Ahmadis – in the absence of Ahmadi representation – the following:

The issue of Qadyanis was also discussed in detail during the conference. It was clearly stated that no Islamic scholar in Pakistan has ever issued fatwa to murder Qadyanis nor do religious leaders allow the killing of Qadyanis. There are some obvious religious differences between the Muslims and Qadyanis, but the rights of Qadyanis as citizens of the country that are guaranteed in Pakistan’s law and constitution should be respected. Qadyanis should also comply with the law and constitution, and Muslims should also respect that.”

Great, we appreciate that. But is it really enough? In spite of the claim that no Muslim cleric has ever issued an edict to murder Ahmadis, they remain one of the most vulnerable groups in the country. If there’s no fatwa encouraging violence against this group, then clearly there’s enough implication that motivated the police to just stand there and watch silently while the mob was setting people belonging to this sect ablaze, not to mention the celebrations of the mob after the attack.

I am sorry but there is something wrong with this picture. Inter-faith dialogue doesn’t mean sitting only with representatives of the faiths that you’re comfortable with; it means sitting together with people of all faiths, even the ones you don’t agree with, or in this case, you can’t even tolerate. Only then can the process of real religious co-existence begin. Let’s be honest, if you can’t sit with a representative of the Ahmadiyya community in a room where ‘inter-faith dialogue’ is taking place, how do you then expect society to grasp the importance of inter-faith tolerance?

Ask yourself Maulana: shouldn’t the aggrieved party have a say in the whole dialogue process? What right do you have to decide for any community without giving them a voice and then continuing in your failure to protect that community?

I am sorry Maulana, but the problem is much graver than ‘averting clash between Sikhs and Hindus’ as you claimed in your article. Minority faiths, particularly of the Ahmadiyya community, the Shia Hazara community, Sikhs, Hindus and Christians are being targeted frequently. Clearly this model of ‘inter-faith dialogue’ is not working. It seems that any inter-faith conference without representation of all faiths is nothing but a gathering to enjoy free food and talk endlessly about an issue that is not going to improve until sincere efforts are made in this regard.

Women shouldn’t drive, says the creep behind the pretty face


This blog post was originally published on Laaltain magazine

jjJunaid Jamshed – our very own pop sensation turned religious personality – has been called out before for his Tableeghi Jamaat-influenced preaching but has managed to maintain a deceptively innocent and arguably moderate persona on TV for years. Whatever the reason, Junaid enjoys a warm place in viewers’ hearts as he continues to host highly commercial shows, including Ramazan transmissions, year after year.

It is only recently that I became aware of the shocking creep behind the ‘cool-maulvi’ persona that came out in one of the shows on TV, where he made highly inflammatory comments about women and how to ‘control’ them that should be regarded as outrageous by any standards.

In Nida Yasir’s show, Junaid Jamshed was heard passing judgments on women, claiming that those who watch TV soap operas and other such shows all day won’t give birth to pious children like ‘Khalid Bin Walid’.
Next, the former pop sensation and so-called heartthrob revealed how he dealt with the insecurity he felt from his wife. Admitting that his wife ‘was’ very pretty in her youth, he said he didn’t teach his wife how to drive a car fearing she might leave him.

He then uttered the golden words of wisdom for men in an already patriarchal society that should put any sane mind to shame:

If any man is watching…I want to tell him that the biggest favour you can do yourself is to not teach your wife how to drive a car or a motorcycle…because if a woman makes it a habit to stay out of the house, she cannot remain at home”

In case you didn’t know, this is misogyny 101 right here. It’s the same attitude that is threatened by women’s empowerment; the same mentality that believes in stopping women from knowing their rights; the kind of thinking that even prevents women from getting an education.

We all remember why the TTP attacked Malala, don’t we? I won’t compare savages like the TTP to the ignorant former pop sensation but the narrative is the same. And it is one that can potentially lead to violence against women. Who knows what the insecure macho men who took Junaid Bhai’s advice would do when their wives asked for rights.
The show’s presenter Nida Yasir, a prominent TV personality herself, countered the argument by asking about a situation where women were forced by circumstance to manage things themselves, including paying bills, going to the markets and running households.

To this, the wise Junaid Bhai simply said that ‘hypothetical’ scenarios should not be presented to him, adding that he doesn’t even want to answer such unlikely things. The ignorance displayed by a man of his prominence is quite astounding. I know dozens of real life examples where widows and women whose husbands left them have to deal with the harsh reality of lives all by themselves. These women are left with no choice but to work and support their households alone.

But that’s not even the point. Even if women have their husbands and other male relatives around, is this how a woman’s life is to be controlled – first by her father and brothers and then by her husband? Should society give the right to any control-freak to essentially cut the wings of the women in his house according to his own whim?
This is the very mind-set we all have to stand up against. Women are not the property of men, they never were. They are as much a person as any man. They also get their lives just once and have every right to spend it the way they want. They must have an equal chance to build their careers and independence.

We must raise our voices by calling out creeps like Junaid Bhai on this and demanding a public apology from him. We have to make it clear to such men that it’s not okay to control a woman’s life just because your petty little ego might get hurt.

Through this article, I would also urge Junaid’s wife to take matters in her own hands and learn to drive if that is what she wants. She shouldn’t need her husband’s permission for this.

And lastly, to the men who might have taken Junaid Jamshed’s advice too seriously, no relationship is worth controlling and imposing if it’s built upon trust. If you and your wife trust each other, she won’t leave you no matter how many times she goes out. On the other hand, if your relationship is not built upon trust, your jealousy and insecurity cannot keep your woman from leaving you, even if you were to keep her chained.

In case there was any doubt that Junaid Jamshed was presenting an Islamic opinion on that show, I’m afraid not. Here’s what a Sahih Hadith has to say:

Abu Huraira reported Allaah’s Messenger (sallAllaahu alayhi wa sallam) as saying: Good amongst the women are those who ride camels. One of them said: They are pious women of the Quraish, and the other one said: The women of the Quraish are kind to the orphans in their childhood and look after the wealth of their spouses.

(Ref: Sahih Muslim, Chapter: Concerning the Merits of Women of the Quraish, Hadith number: 6137)

Talking to IndiaPostLive on “Pak: Landmine for journos”

Screen grab of the webcast

Screen grab of the webcast

I was invited on the panel of IndiaPostLive.com’s live Webcast to speak on the subject of “Pakistan: A landmine for journalists?

Journalists from both sides of the border came together to have an insightful discussion without reaching for each others throats.

On the panel from India:

– Vinod Sharma

– Snehesh Alex Philip

– Meena Menon

And of course the wonderful host Neelanjana Banerjee and the coordinator Subha Roy.

Representing Pakistan side:

– Beena Sarwar

– Aamir Mughal

– Yours truly

– Gul Bukhari

– Aisha Sarwari

– Meher Tarar

– Kamran Shafi

– Rab Nawaz

I mostly talked about…well why don’t you find out what I talked about by watching the show?

I am brought in at around 00:18:30 but I am cut short because of the poor bandwidth. I again speak at around 00:40:20 and this time the connection was better (thank heavens). And then for the final comment at 01:02:00.

Here’s the video. Feel free to comment.

Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

Turkish soap opera Mera Sultan aired in 45+ Muslim countries is ‘blasphemous’?

The good ol' 'Khara Sach'

The good ol’ ‘Khara Sach’

In the time and atmosphere when everyone seems to be playing blasphemy-blasphemy, Hazrat Mubasher Lucman with spike-inspired youthful haircut branded the Turkish soap opera Muhteşem Yüzyıl – dubbed The Magnificent Century in English and Mera Sultan in Urdu – as blasphemous in his latest show.

The apt first reaction, other than rising of an eyebrow would be, as was mine, ‘say what??’

So the show begins with recitation of Quranic verses partly mentioning the story of two prophets Hazrat Musa (AS) and Hazrat Khizer (AS). It is followed by the Urdu translation in Mubasher Lucman’s voice whose pitch suggested he had probably found treasure. He then shows a clip from Geo Kahani’s Urdu version of the show where a pretty woman is narrating a similar story to motivate some bearded man in the show but the characters in this woman’s story are Sheikh Saadi and Hakim Shirazi instead of the prophets mentioned in Quran.

I know right! There is supposed to be some sort of blasphemy in there. Let me know if you find it while reading this blog post.

What Mubasher Lucman asserted was that Mir Shakil-ur-Rahman took foreign money to ‘change’ the Quran and termed the reference in the soap opera as an ‘attempt to modify Quran’.

Lucman seemed to be trying real hard to find endorsements; probably the reason that the ‘scholars’ on his show were unorthodox for a TV show like this one. One of them is Maulana Ahmed Ludhianvi of Ahle Sunnah Wal Jamat (ASWJ) that is an alias of the banned Sipah Sahabah Pakistan (SSP) notorious for sparking anti-Shia hatred and inciting violence.

If you finally happen to find what Mubasher Lucman found, I have to congratulate you because you and the likes of Mubasher Lucman have serviced Islam like no other could. I have to remind you that this show has aired in 55+ countries, majority of which are Muslim countries including Saudi Arabia and some European countries.

I hope Mubasher Lucman realizes that this is what he is saying:

Geo TV owner Mir Shakil conspired against Islam at the hands of some foreign powers who gave Shakil money to have the full show made in Turkey, pay off huge chunks of money to Turkish actors and production teams only to have a poor quality dubbed version of it broadcast in Pakistan on a TV channel that airs second hand shows. And the sole purpose of this massive mission is to ‘amend’ Quran (God forbids).

It’s only fair to bring blasphemy charges to all the actors and production teams and people of every Muslim country who saw and loved this show, don’t you think?

But hey don’t you dare say anything about Lucman, if you don’t wanna end up in his show facing blasphemy charges.

So what if Mubasher Lucman appears to be in bondage/submissive relation with militants? So what if his incitement turns things bloody? So what if his ‘Khara Sachh’ seems more like ‘Khari %$@^@%’? So what if he has run out of topics to cover? So what if he has tasted his own medicine and has his channel banned in several areas? So what if people say ‘RIP journalism’ while watching his show? So what if journalism teachers show clips of his show to students as example of worst form of journalism? So what if he gave several minutes of precious airtime to the man accused of being responsible for killing hundreds of Shias? So what if he might just be inciting sectarian hatred? So what if provocation leads people to take law in own hands?

The man has to tell the good ol’ ‘truth’ on prime time TV.

Will we ever be able to catch-up on Freedom of Expression?


This blog post was originally published on FutureChallenges.org for their Secrets of Transformation multimedia series, a joint project of Bertelsmann Transformation Index and Deutsche Welle.

Freedom of Expression – Photo by Harald Groven (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Freedom of Expression – Photo by Harald Groven (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Banning or blocking seems to be the easiest way of denying the existence of something; this is especially true if you’re talking about countries like Pakistan. Sure, alcohol and pork are banned in the country – and we don’t only prohibit things, we police to make sure it’s stopped – but what I am talking about today is not of traditional censorship, but about censoring the freedom of expression especially in the digital era. You see, “Surf safely” is a warning message we in Pakistan see along with a reminder that the website we’re trying to access is banned. Previously the message used to be just for hardcore anti-Islamic material on websites, then they came for porn and now virtually anything the authorities consider ‘blasphemous’ is banned for our own ‘safety’. How thoughtful!

Pakistan is one of several Asian and Middle Eastern countries where the violation of freedom of expression is rife. It’s been over 15 months now since YouTube was banned in the country as Pakistan joined a list that includes Iran and China. YouTube is just one example of a number of fronts where the war to curb freedom of expression is being waged with the stifling of minority voices and any narrative that runs counter to the dominant opinion.

The government and regulatory authorities in China, UAE and many other countries are fierce when it comes to censoring the voices they perceive as potential threats. The Bertelsmann Foundation’s Project ‘Transformation Index’ (BTI) highlights some of the dynamics of curbing free speech in its reports on China, Iran, Egypt, Syria and the regional index of Middle East. The report about China points out that even though freedom of expression is technically guaranteed in the constitution, the flow of information is heavily regulated and controlled by the state. The report also quotes Reporters Without Borders’ Freedom Index 2012 which ranked China 174th out of 178 countries.

Moving towards more troubled countries including those seen as being engaged in an on-going revolutionary process, Syria today is perhaps the most troubled of all countries in the Middle East and has, as can be expected, limited freedom of expression. Almost all of the media outlets are state owned and very little freedom is tolerated when it comes to criticizing the government and security agencies. Against all odds, however, the situation might be improving as the country has allowed a certain scope for debates in cyberspace, mainly by allowing access to major social networking platforms. Even so, Syrian cyberspace is still heavily policed.

As also indicated by BTI-Project’s reports, Iran presents the worst possible picture when it comes to freedom of expression and activism. Iran’s mainstream media is heavily state-influenced, which leaves little to no room for freedom. Then there is the hugely controversial internet censorship, notorious for its shut-down of blogs and other tools of activism.

Against such a grim background, I wonder how long it will take for these countries to catch-up and get on par with tolerant countries in terms of freedom of expression. Especially in today’s modern world, social media tools are powerful instruments for raising voices against injustice, oppression and violence – the power that we all have seen firsthand during the Arab Spring.

Additionally, global connectivity, where local events often affect other parts of the world, has profound implications for freedom of expression. Thus we see policy based reactions from across the world when freedom of expression is curbed in one part of the world. The question we might ask is whether or not these reactions are enough? Or, whether or not they make any difference? The answer to this question isn’t that difficult. We have seen that mere condemnation of violations of the right to freedom of expression is not enough, especially if we want a more tolerant and progressive world. It is hard to see precisely how, when, or if these countries will ever develop the freedom of expression standards of the developed world. There is certainly not one solution to all of these challenges. However, on-going advocacy, which is facilitated by an increasingly globalized world and social media, is a key aspect that may yield progress. There is much to be gained from collaboration between diplomats, international rights organizations, and stakeholders in the private sector—such as social start-ups, IT companies, and, free speech activists.

Malala Under Attack Again – This Time by Taliban 2.0


This blog post was originally published on Bertelsmann Stiftung’s FutureChallenges.org.

Malala_Yousafzai_Oval_Office_11_Oct_2013_cropBy reading this title, you might be wondering what in God’s name I mean by “Taliban 2.0.” Well, they are the people among us who pretend to be progressive but leave no stone unturned when it comes to being apologists for the very ideology Taliban carry out. You see, I don’t believe Taliban are the only people openly taking up arms and committing acts of terror against innocent people. No! It’s beyond that. The Taliban’s is a sort of ideology that has been around for ages. There have always been people living among us who support the very ideology we all loathe. Now equipped with digital technologies, these people are operating on a whole new level – the next level, if you will – hence, “Taliban 2.0.”

Teenage education equality activist Malala Yousafzai – whom you might also know as the girl who was shot by Taliban – has come under attack once again. The recent controversy in Pakistan mostly surrounds around her book, I Am Malala. She is accused of something as grave as committing blasphemy merely for petty issues such as the book not “carrying the Islamic salutation ‘peace be upon him’ where the names of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) are mentioned” among others.

Unless you’ve been asleep or living under a rock, you know by now that Malala Yousafzai has been made a controversial figure within Pakistan, mostly by the keyboard warriors on the Social Media. It’s not just the social media though! If you talk to urban middle-class people in Pakistan, you see extremely polarized views, many of which are heavily based on conspiracy theories.

Other objections include instances where her quotes have been twisted. For instance, there is one where she mentions that her father found Salman Rushdie’s anti-Islam book offensive but believed it to represent freedom of speech.  In response, critics have said that Malala is merely a tool being used, or rather abused, or even exploited, by the ‘evil West’ for its own agenda. The conclusions put forth by Taliban 2.0 are that she has maligned the image of the country and tried to make us look bad – as if we had a presentable image in the world at the moment. If anything, Malala’s work has boosted the image of the country with the perception that even in the war- and terror-stricken areas in Pakistan, brave and vibrant people like Malala exist.

Almost all of the things being said by this faction of the society are either misunderstandings or  purposeful accusations intended to discredit Malala’s work. Lists of all of those accusations along with detailed rebuttals to each are available at this blog.

This is the bottom line: This war on terror will take a lot more for Pakistan than just a number of battles. We are up against a mindset, an ideology that believes in the use of force – no matter how ruthless – in order to impose its agenda. Why is it no surprise that the heads of two Islamist political parties that have elected members in assemblies have openly called the Taliban commander killed in the recent drone strike a martyr. Maulana Fazalur Rehman went one step farther by saying “even a dog would be considered a martyr if it’s killed by Americans and Jews.” Well, what do you know: this little blog post of mine would then also be considered to be the words of a Jewish agent.