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Today, a Pakistani schoolgirl won the highest accolade anyone who believes in the triumph of the human spirit could attain – the Nobel Peace Prize.
Malala as it has been well documented was shot by gun men in Pakistan’s tribal belt who say they are fighting for Islam by attempting to murder a child going to school. Perhaps, it was the fact that she was learning English that provoked this response, or perhaps it was the fact that a young woman was attempting to empower herself in what is a fiercely conservative part of Pakistan. The rest has become history, and Malala is now an icon in her own right which is what makes the silence by Malala and her champions over the fate of another Pakistani woman all the more puzzling. Aafia Siddiqui, a brilliant neuroscientist who studied in America, has just announced she’s given up any hope of overturning her ridiculously long sentence – 86 years – for attempting to murder American agents in Afghanistan – charges she denies. The diminutive 42-year-old was shot in the abdomen during the alleged encounter – the men she is said to have attacked were not injured. Her journey to Bagram airbase to Texas where she is now incarcerated is equally murky – kidnapped as she left her home in Karachi under General Musharraf’s regime, she says she was raped and tortured at Bagram airbase before the incident that landed her an 86-year prison term. Yet, no one in the West that have been so quick to champion the cause of little Malala, or that of the kidnapped schoolgirls in Nigeria, have been so forthcoming about the disturbing story of Aafia Siddiqui, the English-educated neuroscientist who was kidnapped in her own country and ended a prisoner in someone’s jail under their laws. No one except the Islamists who have made her release from Texas a condition for any peace treaty.