October 24th, 2012
10:56 AM ET

Pakistan on the cusp of change?

By CNN Global Public Square

For more “What in the World,” watch "Fareed Zakaria GPS" on Sunday at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. ET

Earlier this month, the Pakistani Taliban opened fire on a school bus. Two girls were shot. At first, it seemed a familiar story. The Taliban, after all, has bombed hundreds of schools, especially those for girls.

But here's what's new: Mass protests ensued against the Taliban, and in favor of women. That's startling and refreshing in Pakistan.

This past week, thousands of demonstrators thronged to the streets to protest the Taliban's brutality towards women. They're rallying around one person, 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai. Malala was one of the girls who was shot on that school bus. She was not an accidental target. The Taliban directly sought her out and shot her in the head. They wanted to kill not only Malala, but what she stood for. Here's why:

"I will show them the Koran, what Koran says. Koran didn't say that girls are not allowed to go to school"

Malala exposed the lie of Islamic extremists – and they were willing to kill her for it.

But she survived, and so has her argument. Her courage in taking on the Taliban has inspired moderate Pakistanis.

We've been waiting for this kind of moment for a while. What will it take for moderate Pakistanis to unite against extremism? For years now, fundamentalist groups have tried to turn Pakistan into a theocracy. They've scared girls into forgoing school, they've repressed women, they've pushed for draconian interpretations of Pakistan's blasphemy law. But where was the pushback? Just last year, when a state governor, Salman Taseer, spoke out against the misuse of the blasphemy law, he was gunned down. Outside the court, his killer was greeted with rose petals. Where was the public outcry?

Perhaps the last time we saw sustained public anger against the Taliban was three years ago, when a video of a woman being flogged circulated on the internet and on Pakistani TV. That moment led to mass support for military action against the Taliban.

So perhaps the tide is turning once again. Pakistanis often blame the West for their problems, protesting against America, against drone strikes, or even against YouTube. But the real enemy lies within. And it took a 14-year-old girl to bring that to people's attention.

Pakistan's youth literacy rate is only 71 percent; take South Asia as a whole and that number rises to 80 percent; it rises to 90 percent when you take the whole world into account. Girls fare especially badly in Pakistan. There are only 79 Pakistani schoolgirls for every 100 schoolboys. In South Asia that number is 95, and in the whole world it’s 97.

But you don't need a World Bank database to spot these trends. Just ask any schoolgirl in Pakistan.

Women are often seen as the stealth reformers of Islam. As they press for their rights, it will force a more liberal and flexible interpretation of the religion. And while politicians have been cowardly and hesitant, a 14-year-old girl has led the charge. Here's wishing her a complete recovery, so she can get back in the fight for her country and her religion.

Post by:
Topics: Pakistan • Taliban • What in the World? • Women • Youth

soundoff (627 Responses)
  1. The ENEMY of Pakistan is ISLAM

    Islam is the enemy of any country. Islam creates problems, not muslims. Quran and those who adhere to the teachings of Mohammad is the real ENEMY.

    October 24, 2012 at 10:37 pm | Reply
    • Barry Mendelbaum

      It appears to me that Muslims are the fastest growing segment of world society today. As others are withering away the Muslims seem to be rising again with their contributions as was the case historically when they ruled India and Europe and left behind a legacy of science, art, architecture, culinary et al. One only needs to go to Spain and India to witness this.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:00 am | Reply
  2. John

    Well, I'll be. Bush was correct after all.

    October 24, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Reply
  3. heart

    one of the worst ever article i have ever seen only showing the one side of thepicture. i would say this is not a journalism.

    October 24, 2012 at 11:46 pm | Reply
  4. RealNews

    What that girl did was courageous and inspiring. I certainly requires more courage than posting a unanimous comment on a website.

    October 25, 2012 at 12:08 am | Reply
  5. Owen1710

    We are well aware that indian hindus are financing the terrorism prevalent in the region. In indian occupied kashmir, afghanistan, pakistan, bangladesh and other places. We are also well aware of the dissent of minorities in their own country that is tearing India apart. Given the current downward spiral that hindus are currently in, we suspect India may not survive the funk it is in..in its current form.

    October 25, 2012 at 1:51 am | Reply
    • RRG

      Pity on you guys, who does not have anything else to do than be obsessed with India

      October 25, 2012 at 2:57 am | Reply
  6. Eddie_Northern Virginia

    The courage of Malala and her articulation on worldly issues is testament to the freedom of thought accorded to women in Islamic Pakistan. Against all odds this girl is a role model for all backward cultures in the region, particulalry predominantly Hindu India to learn from her and emulate what she stands for.. The comments in this forum smack of jealousy on part of Indians who don't like Pakistan getting all this sympathy, well wishes and attention. We can all see that.

    October 25, 2012 at 1:57 am | Reply
    • Jessup_Indiana

      Malala should also be an inspiration for all girls/women folk in the middle east as well.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:12 am | Reply
  7. Hrish Lalchander

    I wish the girls/women in India could be more like Malala.Polished, articulate, respectful, intelligent, thoughtful, tolerant. emancipated. i feel like migrating to Pakistan with my family althoug i am a hindu from india

    October 25, 2012 at 2:06 am | Reply
    • Kalpana

      Unlike the b@@b trotting bollywood girls? !!!!

      October 25, 2012 at 2:15 am | Reply
    • RRG

      Don't even have the guts to say you are from Pakistan. Off course no one would want to associate with Pakistan

      October 25, 2012 at 2:54 am | Reply
  8. Jessup_Indiana

    How bad can the pakistan society be if a such an intelligent girl like Malala is a product of that society. I am afraid we Americans have been misled by CNN. It appears that pakistan is a very progressive country notwitstanding the taliban issue which I am sure will go away once the invaders leave Afghanistan.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:10 am | Reply
  9. Aberdeen

    Pakistan “RISING” has established itself as part of a very dynamic regional paradigm amalgamating it geographically with Central Asia, Middle East and Europe. While also situated at the gateway to the Arabian Gulf, Pakistan will also have access to the waters of the Caspian Sea, Mediterranean Sea, Black Sea, Arabian Sea, China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. This positions Pakistan at the crossroads to peace and prosperity in the world and economic well-being as well as military clout.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:13 am | Reply
  10. Ramiro Ramirez

    Seems like India is falling apart at the seams. First, hundreds of sick left burning in a hospital fire, then hundreds dead drinking some hindu moonshine concoction, followed by massive power blackouts, nuclear accident and now this. Poverty is rampant, societal values have collapsed; inflation is in the clouds while the rupee is in the toilet. This economic and political model has failed. The moment US pulls out of Afghanistan, it iwll be all over for India. No more handouts by American taxpayers.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:25 am | Reply
    • oscar

      Let's face it, India is a decadent culture and economy on the verge of collapse. India has become a dinosaur. A Smithsonian specimen. Like humpty dumpty even USA, NATO and the entire free world are having a tough time holding it together. Living in the shadows of Pakistan, defined by China, haunted by Kashmir and punctuated by Terror Organizations such as Shiv Sena, India is struggling to find a meaning for its existence and a place in the new world order. Here is my take on the ongoing civil war in India and its imminent disintegration.

      October 25, 2012 at 2:26 am | Reply
      • RRG

        You are correct dude. Just replace India with Pakistan. It makes complete sense

        October 25, 2012 at 2:52 am |
      • Kabir

        You hit the nail right on the head ! well stated and i completely agree with you

        October 25, 2012 at 8:24 am |
    • RRG

      You are correct dude. Just replace India with Pakistan. It makes complete sense

      October 25, 2012 at 2:52 am | Reply
  11. Mr. Derp

    Fareed Plagiarist – he should be banned from the media in disgrace.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:25 am | Reply
  12. Francis C

    We believe that India poses a clear and present danger to the regional security of the world. Hindu cult extremism is on the rise and fanning all terrorism worldwide. Indians are the bankers to and financing terrorism and supporting Talibans and Al Qaeda and harboring them in India. Shame on these Indians. Like the NAZI's they need to be stopped forcefully and immediately without further ado.

    October 25, 2012 at 2:28 am | Reply
    • RRG

      You are correct dude. Just replace India with Pakistan. It makes complete sense

      October 25, 2012 at 2:51 am | Reply
      • Kabir

        You need to brush up your history. Over years India has been split into pieces and more is in the works. Fasten your seat belt and get your money out of the Indian banks.!

        October 25, 2012 at 8:23 am |
      • Rocky

        Forgot about Bangladesh. At least keep Baluchistan with Pakistan

        October 25, 2012 at 10:10 am |
  13. Crowley

    You go girl!!! our wishes with you Malala

    October 25, 2012 at 2:30 am | Reply
  14. jihad al bakar

    the fire of Muad'Dib is coming to the world! Fareed, submit to the Mahdi and join the great Jihad against the godless Imperium. A mighty fire will consume all of the evil devils seed and lead all the pure to the golden path. Muad'Dib!

    October 25, 2012 at 2:33 am | Reply
  15. SixDegrees

    In Pakistan, "thousands of demonstrators" is not something anyone would notice; it's common for tens of thousands of protestors to turn out over minor issues like an opposing city councilman running for election, or for hundreds of thousands to turn out over some imagined slight to Islam.

    Time to face facts: the Taliban have regrouped and found a new, supportive home in Pakistan, and they're thriving there with the direct help of Pakistan's government. The US needs to immediately cut all foreign aid to the country. It would be a good idea, too, to gather intel on the whereabouts of Pakistan's handful of nuclear weapons so we can go in and confiscate them while demolishing whatever production facilities for more they have in operation. Time to stop mollycoddling this terrorist breeding cesspool.

    October 25, 2012 at 3:09 am | Reply
  16. Che Mir

    Only if these moderate Pakistanis also stand united against their own ISI and Army to stop them waging a proxy war with India that has killed thousands of innocent lives. Pakistan's biggest enemy is their own dogmas not India or US.

    October 25, 2012 at 3:25 am | Reply
    • RRG

      If they don't talk about India, then how can they identify themselves

      October 25, 2012 at 3:29 am | Reply
      • Kabir

        In Pakistan, it is an insult to be compared to Indians. FYI

        October 25, 2012 at 8:21 am |
      • Rocky

        You are right. It is an insult for India to be compared with Pakistan. Pakistan should be compared more with failed states

        October 25, 2012 at 10:08 am |
      • Beef Lo Mein

        In some Haryana villages in India, the young girls are routinely threatened, abused and killed all under Khap (tribe/clan) verdicts. It is acceptable for the families to feed pesticide pills to the teenage girls and then dispose off their bodies by burning them without any police records.

        October 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  17. Matt

    The problem is for everyone that opposes such ideology there is one that does not, even if the Pakistani placed her under CPP, it was clear she would be targeted. A member of the CPP team would shot her, as happened with politicians. You have a minister calling on the Taliban to do an assassination over than movie, you have Imran Khan using the Taliban as issue, then you have the ISI use of ideology. Nothing will change. To the ISI it is tool, but to the tool it is much more and that is how it got out of control.

    October 25, 2012 at 4:56 am | Reply
  18. Charles

    Sadly, nothing will happen,nothing will change. The events of today will be forgotten within a year.

    October 25, 2012 at 5:15 am | Reply
  19. Ken

    As long as Pakistan views India as a greater enemy than the extremists, the government of Pakistan will not do anything, viewing these backwards animals as a strategic ally. Pakistan wants Kashmir mainly because Indian intelligence created an independent Bangladesh and the Pakistanis want payback. Stop worrying about Kashmir and the Indians and worry about the Taliban.

    October 25, 2012 at 6:20 am | Reply
    • krm1007 ©™

      I could not disagree with you more. You are looking at India's problems through the wrong prism. That of Indian government which is on life support system blaming Pakistan for all the ills in Indian society. Let's face it, India is a decadent culture and economy on the verge of collapse. India has become a dinosaur. A Smithsonian specimen. Like humpty dumpty even USA, NATO and the entire free world are having a tough time holding it together. Living in the shadows of Pakistan, defined by China, haunted by Kashmir and punctuated by Terror Organizations such as Shiv Sena, India is struggling to find a meaning for its existence (besides a call center) and a place in the new world order.

      October 25, 2012 at 8:01 am | Reply
      • Rocky

        Posing the same thing with different names will not make it truth. First realize that your country is in no 12 position in the list of failed states. Off course you are not so educated to understand these facts. Guess it is more of obsessive compulsive disorder which is seen in most of you guys

        October 25, 2012 at 10:05 am |
      • Beef Lo Mein

        In some Haryana villages in India, the young girls are routinely threatened, abused and killed all under Khap (tribe/clan) verdicts. It is acceptable for the families to feed pesticide pills to the teenage girls and then dispose off their bodies by burning them without any police records.

        October 25, 2012 at 1:25 pm |
  20. Ash

    Desi talking about Paki? Do you understand Pakis? These guys put Islam above everything else so no question of civility there.... these Pakis will not change.... and why pakis want to pass off as Desis? A Paki is always a Paki, not a Desi.

    October 25, 2012 at 6:28 am | Reply
    • Kaiser Safi

      GOD BLESS PAKISTAN,
      Land that we love.
      Stand beside her, and guide her
      Thru the night with a light from above.
      From Kashmir to Karachi and onto New Delhi,
      And to the oceans, white with foam
      GOD BLESS PAKISTAN, Our home sweet home.
      Home to the rich and poor and needy,
      Home to the Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Sikhs and Buddhists and everyone else
      GOD BLESS PAKISTAN, the Land of the Beautiful and the Brave

      October 25, 2012 at 8:28 am | Reply
  21. Malik

    Fareed is a dishonest "journalist" and a fraud. Why is he still allowed to publish his crap? Also, an Indian can NEVER be fair to any issue related to Pakistan (and vice versa). He has done shows on outsourcing to China but never said anything on impact of outsourcing to India. He is more interested in seeing India progress at the expense of outsourced US jobs and his main goal has been promoting Indian agenda via US media. Feel sorry for people who are still reading this dishonest "journalist".

    October 25, 2012 at 7:18 am | Reply
    • Sam

      You are correct. Strange that Fareed can not find any story in a country of 1.2billion+ people aka India !!! Hmmmmm. Hmmmm.

      October 25, 2012 at 8:27 am | Reply
  22. Crowley

    The problem is that South Asia is a sick neighborhood with the barbaric and medieval hindu culture prevalent in India next door to Pakistan. India has become a b!tch of America in that region doing the dirty and clean up work for them. Just look in India and around it and you find poverty, extremism, joblessness, women beating, They are in the dark ages. Malala's innocence and intelligence is an exception and a breath of fresh air notwithstanding the tragedy she has gone through. Reading CNN, who could have thought such girls could even exist in Pakistan and be so educated and articulate !!!!! Now that we know how progressive Pakistan is and how open minded and freedom oriented their culture is, let us support them and make Pakistan a model of a nation it was several decades ago. After all, South Korea's development was based on the industrial model established in Pakistan in the 1960s.

    October 25, 2012 at 7:55 am | Reply
    • Rocky

      Pak is a model nation. This has to be the joke of the century

      October 25, 2012 at 10:02 am | Reply
      • Beef Lo Mein

        In some Haryana villages in India, the young girls are routinely threatened, abused and killed all under Khap (tribe/clan) verdicts. It is acceptable for the families to feed pesticide pills to the teenage girls and then dispose off their bodies by burning them without any police records.

        October 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  23. krm1007 ©™

    Malala Yousufzai epitomizes the progressive culture, freedom of expression and respect for women that exists in Pakistan. The ordeal she has gone through deserves all our support for her. Her CNN interview was stunning and her clarity of thoughts, tolerance and innocence was a breath of fresh air coming from a fourteen year old. We were led to believe that Pakistan (like India) was decadent society. Seeing this interview led me to believe that Pakistan stands on the cusp of breaking away from the negative inertia of South Asian politics and being a leader nation in that neighborhood. Malala is a role model for all girls/women in the world particularly those in the neighborhood and middle east. We wish her a very speedy recovery and a productive life.

    October 25, 2012 at 8:20 am | Reply
    • Rocky

      Your cheap tactics of bringing India in the discussion tells you are more obsessed with India than the cause. Do not have the guts to condemn the attacks. The same progressive culture you are mentioning has shot down the poor 14 year old girl. So pathetic to see people like you use these things to distort the facts

      October 25, 2012 at 10:01 am | Reply
      • Beef Lo Mein

        In some Haryana villages in India, the young girls are routinely threatened, abused and killed all under Khap (tribe/clan) verdicts. It is acceptable for the families to feed pesticide pills to the teenage girls and then dispose off their bodies by burning them without any police records.

        October 25, 2012 at 1:26 pm |
  24. Taskmaster

    Fartweed will say anything to defend Islam. The taliban is an enemy for sure but the worst enemy that Pakistan and the world have is Islam.

    October 25, 2012 at 9:07 am | Reply
    • Beef Lo Mein

      In some Haryana villages in India, the young girls are routinely threatened, abused and killed all under Khap (tribe/clan) verdicts. It is acceptable for the families to feed pesticide pills to the teenage girls and then dispose off their bodies by burning them without any police records.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Reply
  25. Sean

    It is not politically correct and may make people upset, but the real enemy of Pakistan is Islam!

    October 25, 2012 at 9:14 am | Reply
  26. rahul

    ISlam is real enemy of every muslim.Islam can never give peace not only to non muslims but muslim themselves also. Islam is worst than cancer and AIDS altogether and must be rejected at all costs.

    October 25, 2012 at 9:51 am | Reply
    • Beef Lo Mein

      In some Haryana villages in India, the young girls are routinely threatened, abused and killed all under Khap (tribe/clan) verdicts. It is acceptable for the families to feed pesticide pills to the teenage girls and then dispose off their bodies by burning them without any police records.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Reply
  27. rahul

    Most bloody, most radical,most radical, most backwards cutls on earth,its only one , ISLAM. Mind it.

    October 25, 2012 at 9:53 am | Reply
    • Beef Lo Mein

      It is no secret that Mahatma Gandhi (Hindu leader) was a pedophile. What is very disturbing is his relationship (!) and friendship with Hitler. He is known to have offered advice and encouragement to Hitler and his Nazi Party to undertake the Jewish Holocaust.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Reply
  28. I love how muslims come here, use our laws and then proceed to tell us how they hate us

    move home...do us all a favour...

    dont come here, dont use our laws to hide behind, you enjoy freedoms here that you wont ever get in your home countries, and then you have the GALL to question how we live, what our laws are, what our culture values...

    October 25, 2012 at 10:14 am | Reply
    • Beef Lo Mein

      In some Haryana villages in India, the young girls are routinely threatened, abused and killed all under Khap (tribe/clan) verdicts. It is acceptable for the families to feed pesticide pills to the teenage girls and then dispose off their bodies by burning them without any police records.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:27 pm | Reply
    • No Hindus In My Backyard Please

      Who is us and where is here? I just read that an Indian hindu Rajat Gupta got thrown in jail in USA for cheating his way through and discrediting major US companies, laws and his family and all those Americans who trusted him. Indians GO HOME ! We don't want dirt here.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:55 pm | Reply
  29. Ronnie L

    The problems that Pakistan is currently facing actually started around AD 700, when the Arab, Islamic invaders showed up, conquered the country's buddhists, and hindus, and subjugated them under Islamic law. It's been a violent, Islam infested s**thole ever since.

    October 25, 2012 at 10:42 am | Reply
    • Beef Lo Mein

      In some Haryana villages in India, the young girls are routinely threatened, abused and killed all under Khap (tribe/clan) verdicts. It is acceptable for the families to feed pesticide pills to the teenage girls and then dispose off their bodies by burning them without any police records.

      October 25, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  30. davecu

    Islam has only been in existence 1500 years or so so it is not the reason for the lack of civility in Afghanistani or Pakistani
    lives.
    The mind set was formed long before the religion existed.
    Why is that?
    Did Islam create that mind set or did the mind set create Islam?

    I don't know the answer but would like to.

    October 25, 2012 at 10:57 am | Reply
    • Beef Lo Mein

      Hinduism is a disgusting cult. Even to this day cross-cousin, father-daughter, mother-son, brother-sister, doing each other is common practice. Let me make it easy for you and refer you to the hindu scriptures and share it with the world. Shame on Hindus and barbaric Hinduism.
      Pushan is the lover of his sister [ Rg Ved VI.55.4 ][ Apte 11 ]
      The Ashvisns married Surya and Savitri who is their sister [ RV I.116.19 ].
      Agni is the son of his father and his sister [ Rg Ved.I.91.7 ]

      October 25, 2012 at 1:30 pm | Reply
      • keep50

        Pakistan:
        Lost every war they fought with the Indians
        Masters of treachery – pretend to fight Al Queda and harbor Bin Laden
        Shoot little girls who just wanna go to school
        losers.

        October 25, 2012 at 5:08 pm |
      • Heath

        HINDUISM: A FARCE

        “Hindus worship genitals (rub your eyes!) of their gods! Linga is a representation of Shiva's phallus.

        Hindus worship cows is well known. Did you know that they also worship monkeys (hanuman), elephants (Ganesh), rats (mount of Ganesh), snakes etc.? For all the intellect that human beings were given, Hindus decided to make themselves subservient to crawling animals!

        October 25, 2012 at 7:20 pm |
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