Pakistanis debate real enemy: girl-shooting Taliban or drone-firing US
The news that the Taliban shot 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai for speaking out against them has sparked debate that highlights a major division in Pakistan.
SWAT VALLEY, Pakistan
In Pictures Talking to the Taliban
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On one side are civil society members and some ethnic and religious minorities who find the attack on the girl, Malala Yousufzai, atrocious and are calling for action against the Taliban.
“There are many in our valley who would not dare to name the Taliban, but she spoke against them. We cannot deny her sacrifice,” says Khairullah Sina of Swat Valley, who works in the education sector and knows Malala.
Hundreds of protesters from civil society gathered in Islamabad, Karachi, and Lahore to protest the shooting, and have been calling for the Pakistani Army to head up a military operation in North Waziristan to tamp down on militants in the region.
On the other side are the citizens who are criticizing the international community and media for giving her case “more than the attention it deserves.”
There seems to be a concerted effort to tie the Malala incident to the unrelated issue of US drone attacks in Pakistan, says Baqir Sajjad Syed, who writes on foreign affairs and defense issues for the English-language newspaper Dawn.
Sanaullah, a teacher in Swat and an acquaintance of Malala's father, who goes only by one name, says he doesn't understand why international media cares so much about the attack on Malala when there are greater issues that need to be addressed.
"Every time there is a drone attack, innocent children and women are killed. We should also condemn that since it is equally unjust but no one is highlighting it," he says.
The US says it has no other choice than to use drones to rout out militants in areas like North Waziristan, but many Pakistanis complain that it is a violation of sovereignty and causes civilian casualties. It’s an issue that is used often by right-wing Islamists to whip up anti-Americanism.