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Akbar Nasir Khan - Counter Narrative

Whether it is responding to drone attacks which killed WaliurRehman or it is responding to historic address of MalalaYusufzai in the United Nations,Taliban are not leaving any front unattended. Their savagery response to drones by killing the innocent tourists drew worldwide condemnation. Similarly their response to Malala’s address has started a much awaited debate and it is worth examining.


Malala came forward as voice of the silent majority. Although we have a national trait of not letting any one among us become a symbol of national unity but she has become one, whether you like it or not.It is acknowledged not only by people of Pakistan but the international community also. Opponents of Malala,are more perturbed because this one young fearless girl has become an idol of courage and commitment for a cause- education for all-particularly girls. It was her pen which brought her in limelight and now it is her voice which is deafening the ears of Taliban so much that they are compelled to respond by a personal appeal by none less than Adnan Rashid-the ex-Air Force staff who was mastermind of attacks on General Musharraf. She has successfully presented a much needed counter narrative to the widespread propaganda of Taliban. TTP and its supporters, either in individual capacity or as an organization, has no weapon left to respond to her eloquently described solution –the Education.


How can Taliban say that education is not good? How can they deny that first word of the Holy Book which was revealed to the Holy prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was Iqra (Read)? How can they deny all the saying of the Holy Prophet stressing the importance of education and knowledge? They can’t. Resultantly the letter by Adnan Rashid, is an effort of damage control by the TTP as part of their communication strategy. It failingly tries to address that Taliban are not worried by ordinary education given in the madrassahs but their threat is coming from freedom of expression which is a an attribute of a living conscious. They are not scared from the writing skill of any literate person but any words which challenge the myopic views of Taliban about an intolerant society in Pakistan, are an anathema from them. This explains the reasons why so many so called “wise” and “balanced” writers and anchor persons are not afraid from TTP and why some very “careless” and “too bold” scholars are unable to live in Pakistan and express their views in media. It is not the mere writing and reading which Taliban don’t like it is the counter narrative presented by the brave souls like Malala and JavedGhamdi which is a real threat to Taliban.


Lets try to understand the dilemma of Taliban. As an organization which is thriving upon propaganda with religious diction and misinterpretation of history of religion, TTPand its affiliates cannot tolerate the speeches and writings of any person, who can change the pubic opinion against Taliban. If the trend of raising voices against flawed narrative of Taliban continues and some other voices 

aired by media, then focus of TTP will be on Media houses who have a vital role in shaping the Public Opinion. Certainly, the coverage of Malala’s address and media coverage is creating a positive stir in the public minds and shaping public opinion.


Ben H, Bagdikian, in his book The Media Monopoly mentioned that news have two kinds of impact on public opinion- one brief and transient, the other prolonged and deep. First type of coverage of single news item on a specific issue will not bring long-term impact but media houses will have to cover such news so they are not missing the most important happenings which are covered by all other competitors. Therefore, single news about events though covered each time, without clear links will not form any public opinion and warrant any government reaction. For creating an effective public opinion, the news related to a particular theme, like a presenting a counter narrative to the flawed ideology of TTP, needs to be repetitive and the subject should be addressed deeply. Continuous repetition and emphasis create high priorities in the mind of the public and the government.In highly competitive and vibrant media community in Pakistan, this remains the deliberate choice of the media houses to shape the public opinion keeping in mind their financial, personal and national interests. This is how media becomes a key stakeholder in this communication between Malala and Adnan Rashid.


But media house arethe news providers rather than news-makers. The society should have more voices and opinions countering the propaganda of Taliban and responding to obscurantist view of TTP and its affiliates. Malala is most visible symbol of peaceful resistance against the violence of Taliban. It is a voice which resonates with the sentiments of Pakistani Youth. Response by Adnan is more emotional, as expected, and sans evidence. He has tried to use the same metaphors and historical references to dilute the impact of Malala. But now it is for the anchors, writers and above all, public representatives to respond and dive deeper to address the ideological debate initiated by Malala. 

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  • Guest (Shafaqat Ullah)

    "It is not the mere writing and reading which Taliban don’t like it is the counter narrative presented by the brave souls like Malala and JavedGhamdi which is a real threat to Taliban"

    Respected Akbar Nasir Khan sb, don't you think that Dr Tahir Ul Qadri presented counter narrative in comprehensive and multi-dimensional way. If yes, worth mentioning his name as reference.

    "Brave Effort" I would call to this Article.

  • Guest (Shakeel Haider)

    bravo...the importance of propaganda and its usage is being benefited by TTP and its off shoots and off springs.But speech of Malala is symbolic in the sense that it imbalanced stance of TTP.a very bold highlight from the writer on importance of Public opinion makers and mouth pieces.or one may say Spin doctoring by different mediums of media.

    from Ottawa, ON, Canada
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