Talk about sending out a woman to do a man’s job! It appears that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has achieved the pinnacle of success for role reversal. Maulana Abdul Aziz, one of the three negotiators for the TTP, has happily crowed that there are “at least 400 to 500 female suicide bombers in Waziristan and other tribal areas” waiting to blow off their own breasts and incinerate their baby incubators should the peace talks (discreet cough) fail. Women who wear the pants in the family usually end up with a miserable man at their side but wearing the pants and also strapping on a bomb vest takes role reversal to a whole new level.
The February 7 interview, given at that dustbin of thought, the Lal Masjid, merely confirms the obvious: usual brainless activities continue to be floated about across the ‘campus’. During former president Musharraf’s administration, the Lal Masjid student body contented themselves with torching video stores and terrorising the neighbourhood. Things were heated enough but now we are greeted with the news that a religious school with 1,300 female students also buys into the grand scheme of female suicide bombings. They are taking things up a notch.
“They are fighting for the implementation of sharia,” Aziz said at the seminary where some 1,300 female students are studying. “It is the law of nature that when people do not get their rights, they pick up arms.” If implementation of sharia means beheading people you detest, shooting little girls in the head and treating the citizens to high doses of gangland violence, the Lal Masjid should be razed to the ground. One can never be sure what is being taught behind its walls but, from the look of their website, I doubt they are teaching calculus.
What happens in Pakistan stays in Pakistan. At least that seems the conventional wisdom. Do it dirty and do it bad but nobody gives a rip. It is Pakistan. The more the merrier, and the bloodier the religious orgy, the better too. This brings us to the topic of the animal kingdom. I have not quite determined which animal Abdul Aziz resembles the most but the lower order of things were definitely created to teach the higher order a thing or two.
Take frogs, for instance. BBC Nature News showed a report on December 1, 2011, ‘How frogs predict earthquakes’. The hypothesis is that animals may note chemical changes in groundwater before an earthquake occurs. A colony of toads politely hopped away from their pond in L’Aquila, Italy, days before a quake struck in 2009. Researchers took note, and voila, something new under the sun worthy of additional study.
Then there is the report coming out of Malaysia. When the earthquake and tsunami of December 26, 2004 hit Sri Lanka, there were no reports of mass animal deaths recorded at Yala National Park. The elephants, leopards and monkeys are believed to have fled in advance of the natural disaster. I like to imagine that the leopards ran full tilt with the monkeys on their backs and the elephants trumpeted the news as they lagged on behind. When speaking to BBC News, one conservationist had this to say: “Wild animals in particular are extremely sensitive. They have extremely good hearing and they [probably] heard this flood coming in from a distance. There would have been vibration, and there may also have been changes in the air pressure [that would] have alerted them and made them move to wherever they felt safer.” The report also stated the following: “For an animal to survive in the wild and avoid being killed by predators or drowned in a flood, its senses must be acute enough to pick out minute changes in sound, vibration and smell.”
I grew up along a fault line in a region that suffered sporadic earthquakes. One night we were awakened by the sound of barking. It seemed every dog in the neighbourhood had joined the choir. The neighbour’s roosters provided the tenor notes for this growing chorus of sound. Between baritone barks and tenor shrieks, it was quite entertaining And then, dishes flew out of the cupboards and bricks fell from the walls. Not being the brightest of God’s creations, we remained in our beds in spite of the warning from the animals of the lower order. However, my family remembers the lesson. We are more alert, more in tune with the world around us.
Maulana Abdul Aziz has sent out quite a tremor. He has committed assault. Pakistan awaits the battery.
Here is the deal regarding freedom of expression. Abdul Aziz has the right to speak but, over the years, I have noted a pattern. Those who consistently speak in criminal tones eventually trip themselves up. They end up engaging in criminal acts. Thoughts are the precedence for action. Let us move back to his speech about hundreds of female suicide bombers waiting to be unleashed on Pakistan’s citizens. He has issued a threat — threat of assault. We await the battery — the actual bodily harm.
Again, thoughts precede actions. A woman can think all day about making a wonderful dinner for her husband. By the end of the day, she is stirring a pot in the kitchen but she had to think about it first. Female suicide bombers are no different. They have to think for a long time about putting on that vest. However, if they think about it long enough, if others talk to them about it consistently, they just might do it.
The TTP are predatory. Maulana Abdul Aziz is not a negotiator. He is a predator. The rest of us are just the frogs, monkeys, leopards and elephants fleeing from their tremors but I do wish the Pakistan government had a frog-o-meter. The chemistry in the water seems a bit off. If the peace talks succeed, we must all politely hoppy-toe our way out of the pond. We frogs are intelligent creatures.
The writer is a freelance journalist and author of the novel Arsenal. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org