EDIT (Sept. 2011): Yikes! I wrote this like over 2 years ago or so, so ... well, I'm not impressed by it now that I look back. But I won't delete it from the blog in case it teaches someone something.
After a smothering and unbearable sense of frustration, I figured it was about time I made the move, since neither the media nor the rest of the world seems willing to voice the miseries of an oppressed people like the Pukhtuns today.
The people of Swat, Pakistan (in NW Frontier), and surrounding areas have been suffering and dying for over a year now, and much of the world remains ignorant of their genocide. Most Pashtuns, the ethnic group in Swat and much of the rest of NWFP, are painfully but highly convinced that the Pakistan government is behind this, that this is a conspiracy against them. And they have every reason to believe this. Pakistan claims it has sent “security forces” to Pashtun regions in order to settle the matter, but it fails to provide evidence of all the Taliban it claims to have killed. Pashtuns ask, “Does Pakistan not have the power to kill the main Taliban leaders, Maulana Fazlullah and Muslim Khan? Why does it destroy the homes of civilians but not those of the Taliban’s?”
Instead of punishing or killing the Taliban, these “security forces” kill harmless Pashtuns. They claim to be shooting in areas filled with Taliban, but somehow, the Taliban always end up escaping while innocent Pashtuns’ lives are snatched. Taliban destroy our schools while these “security forces” stand and watch quietly. They argue that they cannot differentiate the Taliban from the average Pashtun man, but how does one witness a person committing such horrendous crimes and remain silent, claiming not to know who the criminal is while the criminal is standing right in front of him? Surely, the government knows that education has been forbidden upon the females of Swat; what has it done about it in response? Isn’t it the government’s responsibility to enforce education upon males and females equally in all parts of Pakistan?
Then there's the media: why is it that hardly a handful of people around the world know about what the Pashtuns are going through? If they knew, there would perhaps be more protests against our genocide; or perhaps, at the very least, our situation would be mentioned in most newspapers, whether local or international, and maybe even make front-page news every now and then. For instance, how many people universally are aware of the fact that the Taliban have now issued a new dictum in which they have decided that all young, unmarried females in Swat must be married to them (i.e., these militants)? How many people know that hundreds of schools in Swat alone have been destroyed in just the past year? How many people have read the letters and articles, in BBC, that are written by victims who beg the world to help them (such as in “A Letter from Swat,” by Zobair Torwali, a social activist who lives in Swat)? How many people know that a law was passed a couple of months ago, stating that girls are not to go to school anymore and if they do so, they and their families will have to face severe consequences? How many people realize that thousands – not just hundreds – of Swati families have been displaced, that these Pashtun refugees from NWFP have fled to Afghanistan – that even, by foot? Unfortunately, there are far many more who refuse to leave because for them, their current residence is their home; this is where their ancestors lived, survived hardships just like them, and died; it is where all of their relatives and others with whom they have strong bonds have lived for centuries; but also, most of them cannot afford to leave due to financial difficulties. Not to mention, their current regions symbolize for them hope in a hopeless situation.
Yet, we Pashtuns living abroad wonder in pity, why aren’t our people’s screams being heard by the media and by the world? How much more louder do the victims’ screams of this burning pain must be in order for them to be heard? How long must the suffering continue, and how many more people must die, in order for the international community to label it genocide? At the very least, how long must it continue in order for the world to hear the victims’ heartfelt cries? All these questions lead us to ultimately ask: why is the media so silent on the matter regarding these Pashtun victims?
The media’s role is vital because due to the lack of attention that the Pashtun victims are receiving from the media, whether Pakistani or international, very few people are aware of their suffering. And if the public does not know what is going on around the world, how can they raise a voice against the injustice being done to a people? Indeed, very few news sources have earned the respect of Pashtuns by documenting the miseries that our loved ones back home have been swallowing for the past year. And because we young Pashtuns living abroad have realized that the media is not doing its job properly by revealing the miserable and painful condition of our people, we have decided to accept the heavy burden upon our own shoulders and raise awareness of the situation ourselves. Groups on Online Social Networks (such as Facebook, Orkut, and MySpace) have been created in support of Pashtun victims; in some of these groups, members share and discuss methods through which they can raise awareness of this genocide, and one of the most important ways they have come up with is writing letters to important news sources and explaining this injustice.
I hope that this letter expresses its unheard voice powerfully enough so that the readers are convinced to research the current Pashtun genocide, educate others about it, and help us stand up against our oppressors and with the oppressed.
Thank you for giving me the permission to freely write to you, Citizens of the World!
A Heartbroken Human
P.S. Below is a list of sources from which some of the information mentioned above has been derived.
“A Letter from Swat”
“Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl”
Education Banned on Girls, Jan. 15th 2009
Hard times for Pakistani refugees from Peshawar
Pakistani families from Bajaur Agency flee to Afghanistan
“The Pashtuns, the Taliban, and the Ignorant Outsiders”
"Swat Diary: Living on the Frontline"
“Taliban force parents to marry daughters to militants”
“Taliban rule the roost in Swat through the [illegal] FM radio”