Soon after Malala' historic challenge to terrorists who have no shame in shooting young girls, Pakistani social media was flooded with hate messages calling her an American agent. They blamed her for distorting the image of Pakistan by exposing an internal conflict to a wider audience. These hate-mongers argued that she is damaging Pakistan' soft image and wondered who are the real forces behind her projection as an angel of peace, progress and champion of girls education. It's no point in further arguing as it's a ‘mindset’ issue which may be just next to impossible to change,

But then the news, soon after Malala' speech at the UN, that the Pakistani Taliban are going to try to fight Jihad in Syria, a new venues to prove their capabilities was astonishing. It's being reported that Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) fighters are heading to Syria. They are supposed to be fighting along the rebel forces to ouster Asad' regime. Earlier Pakistani tribal areas were used by TTP as launching pad to attack international forces in Afghanistan, and to attack Pakistan forces and civilians, or provide sanctuary for terrorists while imparting them required training facilities, but sending comrades to Syria shows the confidence that they can still keep the Pakistan state hostage in the backdrop of dialogue drumbeat. This is a very dangerous development as TTP will not limit itself to Syria only; they may have other designs to meet.

Now comes the question for hate-mongers, does the deployment of Taliban in international conflicts present a soft image of the country or that of a country of mercenaries? Certainly it’s not soft image of a country whose social media activists blame Malala but keep quiet on exporting terrorists to other countries. Let's go back to what Malala said on July 12, “one child, one teacher, one book, one pen can change the world”; she didn't mention one bomb or a bomber.

It's high time for Pakistani establishment to shrug off the dialogues lollypops and make some bitter decisions. That's the only way to reinstate country' soft image, otherwise we are going to bury ourselves in international quagmires.

MASOOD KHAN,

Saudi Arab, July 16.