burka avenger

LAHORE, Pakistan — “How do we prevent the 5-year-old in Pakistan from becoming a radical?” U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan asked in an April interview.
Imran Azhar has a ready answer: “You make him a hero. And you redefine what it is to be a hero.” Azhar is part of a small group of Pakistani artists, activists, and entrepreneurs trying to do that through cartoons.

In Pakistan, “intolerance and extremism … [are] so deep as to be … part of the national genetic code,” the Express Tribune wrote in a May editorial about the assassination of an anti-extremist blogger and activist. Since then, the litany of bloodshed has only continued, from a hospital bombing that killed more than 70 lawyers, journalists, and others mourning the death of an assassinated judge to a seemingly endless series of “honor killings,” including the murder of a controversial female social media star by her brother.

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By Lawrence Pintak

Lawrence Pintak is an award-winning journalist and scholar. He is a former CBS News Middle East correspondent and was founding dean of the Edward R. Murrow College of Communication at Washington State University (2009-2016). He was named a Fellow of the Society by the Society of Professional Journalists in 2017 for "outstanding service to the profession of journalism" around the world. Pintak is a contributor to ForeignPolicy.com, The Daily Beast, and other outlets. Read his articles at pintak.com. His books include Reflections in a Bloodshot Lens: America, Islam & The War of Ideas; Islam for Journalists (co-editor); The New Arab Journalist; and Seeds of Hate: How America’s Flawed Middle East Policy Ignited the Jihad. He holds a PhD in Islamic Studies from the University of Wales, Trinity St. David. Follow him on Twitter @LPintak.