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Pakistan: Malala Yousufzai And The Drone Attacks

Ever since the young school going peace activist Malala Yousufzai was attacked by armed gunmen in Swat, numerous questions over the efficacy of the ongoing drone attacks in the region have surfaced. Following the attack on October 9th 2012 (see Global Voices report), widespread outrage from all quarters of the world including all political and religious parties of Pakistan poured in condemning the move, of which the Tehreek -e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have claimed responsibility.

As the National Peace Prize Winner recuperates in a hospital, many in the country have begun linking the unfortunate attack with the ongoing drone attacks which target the militant presence in the Northern areas. Was the attack on Malala instigated by these drones? Was she targeted due to insufficient efforts to stop the drones?

MQM activists hold portraits of Malala Yousufzai during address of MQMs chief Altaf Hussin in Hyderabad, Pakistan. Image by Rajput Yasir. Copyright Demotix (14/10/2012)

The chief of Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazal group Maulana Fazlur Rehman blamed the government for the thousands of deaths that have resulted due to its policies. Furthermore he stated that while the attack on Malala Yousufzai should be condemned, nobody was protesting the deaths caused by the drone attacks.

It appears many on Twitter share the opinion, held by Rehman:

@RajaSahabPTI: If Malala is getting coverage , medals, hospital facility, bcz she was targetd by TTP. Then wht abt thoz who r being targtd by DRONES?????

@Kidwhy009 (Hafsah Q): RT @Realist0: hundreds of kids younger than #Malala are bombed by the #Drones everyday, where is our heart for them?

@akbar62 (Ghulam Akbar): Malala incident has been timed to perfection.Murderous drones are forgotten. it is back to square one..Talban Terror War Madness. Hats off CIA

@SohaibMalek (Sohaib Malek): @Shahidmasooddr and still no action against Drones? But very much vibrant on #Malala ‘s issue! Aren't they sons & daughters of this Land?

People have also started using the shooting as a way to justify the drone strikes which are responsible for scores of civilian deaths in the northern region, which raises concerns on whether linking the two very serious issues is healthy.

‏@aHm3D_ (A.): ‘Attack on #Malala because of #drones…’ ‘Drones justified because of attack on Malala…’ Quite simply, you're both hideously wrong.

@YusraSAskari (Yusra Askari): Warped logic: ‘Drones Kill So Malala Can Live’ http://pic.twitter.com/S2SmfAK2 via@kirannazish #ShitYouCantMakeUp

Terming the incident barbaric, Federal Minister Dr. Farooq Sattar said that the drone strikes should not be linked with the attack on Malala.

Just days before Malala was attacked, leader of Pakistan Tehreek-e- Insaaf Imran Khan led a peace march into South Waziristan to protest against the drone strikes. While his motorcade was stopped short of entering in South Waziristan Khan called for Pakistan’s immediate pull out from America’s war on terror and a stop for all drone attacks. Said to sympathize with the Taliban, Khan also condemned the attack on Malala however stopped short of condemning the Taliban who claimed responsibility.

“We have local affiliates and supporters. Sure I can give big statements against the Taliban, but that would make them [supporters] Taliban targets,”

Khan is also said to have repeatedly called for negotiating talks with the Taliban as an effort to bring peace to the country.

A candlelight vigil was held for Malala Yousuf Zai at Hyderabad Press Club. Image by Rajput Yasir. Copyright Demotix (13/10/2010)

Support for young Malala Yousufzai is clearly visible as people across the globe applaud her courage to stand up to the Taliban. A candlelight vigil was held in Karachi by Muttahida Quami Movement to pray for her recovery. People across the country have held similar events to honour her stance and bravery. A protest against the Taliban outside the Karachi Press Club also ensued that was attended by many peace activist and members of the civil society.

Online petitions in her name have flooded the internet. One such petition is ‘Protect the Children & Schools in Northern Pakistan’.  People also took to the social networking site Twitter to show support for Malala and condemn the Taliban for what they term as a ‘cowardly attack’.

@asadmunir38 (Asad Munir) #MALALA:Pray for her, she is young, wants to live, has dreams for future, wants to contribute, Pride of Swat and Pakistan, don't let her die.

@MaryamNSharif (Maryam Nawaz Sharif): Attack on Malala should not be seen as an attack on an individual. It is indeed an attempt to stangulate every progressive voice.

@Shahidmasooddr (Dr Shahid Masood) May Allah give Malala Yousaf Zai and her friends a quick recovery,health,happiness and a long successful life. Ameen.

@sharmeenochinoy (Sharmeen Obaid) I condemn the attack on Malala Yousafzai in swat- you can't silence us all cowards! #Pakistan

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