Not long back the young Pakistani girl Malala Yousufzai was in the news with the launch of her book and narrating her struggle and the need for education for girls in Pakistan. The majority of Pakistani's were proud of the bravery of the young girl and while her endeavours will raise awareness of the issue of education for girls in the North West of Pakistan, there is no doubt that in some very conservative quarters there is a Taliban type sentiment that educating girls is counter productive.
Around the same time the debate about education and what Malala Yusufzai was promoting came to a head with a discussion with a person who I would best describe as a Taliban sympathiser. I shall simply call him TS and the dialogue went like this.
"This girl should not be allowed to appear on TV, especially in England (he pronounced it Ing-land)she is bringing shame to our country."
"How is she bringing the country to shame?" I asked.
"We should only teach girls home economics, to make them better mothers and wives." TS fancied he was a little liberal than the Taliban in his position.
"Well why not a doctor or a teacher, or any profession." I enquired.
"How can you have your daughter working in a public place, seeing men who are not related to her, and with it come all the vices of the West?" TS was getting worked up.
"What vices? Look TS if your daughter has a good upbringing then she will up hold the values that are ingrained in her." I offered my conciliatory view.
"You do not know these vices." TS asked accusingly.
"Education is not a vice." I answered.
"Perhaps not, but then the girl is working, comes in contact with men, they take her phone number call her for work and then slowly they tempt her to this dating thing and next your daughter's reputation is in the gutter and no one will marry her." TS had figured out the whole script.
"Are you saying that girls should not have mobile phones?"
"Actually no they should not. Its an evil in their hands." TS smiled.
"This is character assassination of all women which logically one cannot accept." I told him.
"OK lets stick to the job thing. So you do not want your daughter to be a doctor because she will meet men?"
"Absolutely not." TS answered.
"TS who do you love the most in the world?" I asked.
"My mother ofcourse!"
"OK not lets assume God forbid your mother is seriously ill and needs to go to a hospital and if as you say girls should not be educated it is natural then only a male doctor will examine your mother. Right?' I asked TS.
"What are you suggesting?" TS was getting a bit aggressive.
"Well if you do not want your mother to be touched or examined by a male doctor then the only choice is a female doctor, who obviously will be someone's daughter. So how can you be against educating women?" Even though I am not suggesting education for women should only be to become doctors, but for the limited closed minded thinking of TS I took the narrow route.
"See this is the problem with you Western minded Pakistani's you twist something so simple of education and make it too complicated by giving these examples which are all theoretical. My mother, may she be blessed, is in good health so why should i think of what you are saying." TS was getting even more aggressive.
"TS may your mother never be sick but just hope when she does go to a hospital she is not having to be examined by a male doctor. My suggestion pray someone else has had an open mind enough to educate their daughter to be the doctor who will examine her." I was smiling.
TS stood up, glared at me and walked out. Lucky for me he did not come back with a gun and shoot me for being an infidel.