Soniah Kamal

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'Islam is not Pakistan's religion; Marriage is'

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Humera Afridi and Maniza Naqvi: on Malala and Owning our Own Stories

 I urge you to read these poignant and heartfelt pieces by my friends and fellow Pakistani writers, Humera Afridi and Maniza Naqvi. Humera's piece in Guernica on Malala Yousafzai beautifully weds the personal with the political and thrusts us into a culture where misogyny is rampant and the likes of Malala all the more formidable.

 On the night of October 8th, I sat on the floor of Dergah Al-Farah, the Sufi mosque in Tribeca, contemplating the Divine name, Ya Jabbar, that translates from the Arabic as “Bonesetter,” or “Healer of Fractured Existence.” Ya Jabbar… Ya Jabbar… I muttered, riveted by the alchemical potency of the incantation. It felt apt. Seven years ago, on this day, a massive earthquake devastated great swathes of Northern Pakistan and Kashmir. Eighty thousand people died; whole villages toppled off mountain facades; dead buffaloes floated in the Jhelum River and the landscape, cracked and split into so many fissures, was transformed into a series of twisted, gaping smiles. read rest here

Humera's piece is so strong and yet the first comment: 'malala case is all drama..i have friends from the same area where malala school is located…they say that security is tightned there and whole area is under army control..no1 s allowed to see malala is CMH peshawar even her real uncle..even two days before pakistan high connisioner in UK couldnt meet her…why?? simply bcz she z not injured at all..its all drama ..she s having minor injury caused by purpose…'
I draw attention to this comment because, in so many respects, it highlights what is wrong with Pakistan today, as well as other places/people unwilling to take responsibility for the malfunctions in their own backyards. I have said on many occasions and will continue to say that of course while 'others' have had a heavy hand to play in the mess Pakistan is in, we cannot afford to look away from our own contribution. How long are we are a nation going to resort to conspiracy theories and blame games to make sense (or nonsense) of our world?
In that  vein please read Maniza Naqvi's powerful and compelling piece in 3quarksdaily 'Owning Our Own Stories.'.   

All Our Stories: Stories, I think do not reveal the truth, they do however expose untruths. A multitude of narratives, all versions of perceived reality prevent the rise and tyranny of a singular narrative. And in this way, through a multitude of stories, a balance is maintained and truth whether it exists or not is safeguarded by not being singled out. In receiving these narratives we are able to reason that all versions matter; all must be given consideration; that all opinions must be questioned and that all perceptions have validity.  All truths are untruths all untruths are true. In the absence of a multitude of narratives, reason remains ruined.         
I see reason ruined every day in newspapers,  in images on TV channels and in the stacks of books, the so called literature of experts on all things Muslim, Pakistani and Middle eastern.   One of the greatest dangers facing the world today is the dangerous revival of a singular and value laden narrative of good and evil with its time released poison of rest here

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