Understanding the Malala Affair – by Shiraz Paracha
A large number of Pakhtuns unconditionally and wholeheartedly support Malala Yousafzai. To them Malala is a symbol of Pakhtun pride and identity. Such people see Malala as a kindle of hope because they feel frustrated by the negative image of Pakhtuns. In some quarters Pakhtuns are perceived as wild, ignorant and violent people. Malala has broken such negative stereotypes about the Pakhtun people by introducing a new image of Pakhtuns.
Then there are those who are not confident about their identity as Pakistanis/Pakhtuns. They are under the influence of Western culture, values, way of life. They like Malala because she is recognized by the West.
Also there are many who respect Malala because she stood up to tyranny, violence and ignorance. To them Malala is a very noble and special person.
On the other hand, vast numbers of people loath Malala as well.
To them Malala has attained such glory and fame without any contribution. These feelings could be result of jealousy and are common mostly among local population of Swat. Some locals would label Malala’s father a dodgy character, who would do anything for money.
Another group of Malala haters include those who are opposed to female empowerment. They are against Malala because she is a female who opposes extremist views.
There are others who believe that the Malala affair is not as simple as it appears. They see a foreign plot behind Malala project and its purpose is to damage Pakistan thus Malala could be part of a new game of intelligence warfare.
All the above assumptions, analysis and point of views are not entirely accurate. The truth is somewhere in between because there are several competing agendas and interests at play around the Malala affair.
Let us take a look at effects of Malala’s saga:
1) Has introduced a new and soft image of Pakhtuns,
2) Has shown to the world that Pakhtun and Pakistani children/youth are bright, brave and talented like any other children,
3) Malala has become a symbol of women’s education/empowerment in Pakistan,
4) Through Malala the world is learning about the Pakhtun society and culture, its music and poetry. Sending a message that the Pakhtun people are cultured and civilized,
5) Malala’s story tells the world that Pakistan is a normal country of marvelous people, who are opposed to extremism and terrorism.
Western agenda/interest in promoting Malala Yousafzai
1) Malala is a strong propaganda tool against the Taliban. To protect their strategic and imperialistic interests, Western powers have been creating Jehadis and the Taliban. Once utility of such projects ends, western propaganda machines destroy their own creations through new tools. From this point of view Malala is a new instrument for the destruction of the old one.
2) The West used and ruined Pakhtun lands first in its proxy war against the Soviet Union in the 1980s and later during the ‘War on Terror’. The 35 year game of death and destruction has led to strong anti-west sentiments in Pakhtun lands. To counter those sentiments the West is trying different psychological approaches and public diplomacy ventures. Promotion of Malala could be one of those.
3) Peace, development and people’s empowerment in Afghanistan or Pakistan are not real aims of Western governments. They are not charities. They use such slogans to hide their real agendas and interests.
4) Malala’s speech at the Noble Award ceremony was very carefully crafted with clever criticism of western policies. “Why money for guns/wars and not for education?” Such punch lines will give credibility to Malala in the same way the BBC is considered credible. The BBC also criticizes the British government but never crosses the line. The BBC World Service is a ‘White Propaganda’ organization for defending and promoting British interests.
5) If Malala will not cross the line she can be ‘installed’ as prime minister but if she stood up to western double standards she will face the music like the Taliban.
Few disturbing connections…!
Christina Lamb, the author of Malala’s book, ‘I am Malala’, is a British journalist who works for the ‘Sunday Times’ newspaper. The newspaper is owned by media mogul Rupert Murdoch. The ‘Sunday Times’ is notorious for its connections with the British security establishment and intelligence community. Christina is foreign correspondent at the Times. She is also global fellow at an influential American think tank, Wilson Center, which represents and promotes interests and point of view of American security and financial elites. The Center’s leadership is part of the US establishment.
Christina was also instrumental in running anti-Robert Mugabe campaign because the President of Zimbabwe was seen as an enemy of Britain. Zimbabwe was a British colony and President Mugabe took back agricultural lands from British/White landlords.
Christina also worked hand in hand with British forces in Afghanistan. She was an embedded ‘journalist’ in Afghanistan. She reported from Afghanistan but not independently. She reported from Iraq, a country where British forces were in Action along with American troops.
Christina was expelled from Pakistan but she is still very much interested is Pakistan. Christina belongs to that category of Oxford University graduates who are often picked by the British security establishment. I know quite a few of them. It is very intriguing that Christina Lamb was chosen for the task of writing Malala’s book.
Another dubious character in this story is the New York Times reporter, Adam B. Ellick, who made a documentary on Malala just few weeks after the start of her diary for the BBC under a pseudonym. His role was very suspicious. Adam went to Swat undercover to do the ‘Malala project’.
If we look at faces associated with or behind the ‘Malala project’, be it was late Ambassador Richard Holbrooke or former British prime minister Gordon Brown, they all represent or have connections with the world security establishment and ruling elites.
Like any extraordinary story/situation this one is also not simple. We can rightly feel comfortable with positive effects of Malala’s launch on the world stage. At the same time, we should be aware of hidden agendas because if it is a project, those who are creating positive image through Malala have the ability to destroy it. But if we will think and act with cold heads, will adopt balanced and objective approaches we will reach to rational conclusions. Critical thinking and soul searching should be our path to maturity, intellectual growth and development as people and as a country.
The Malala phenomenon will pass but soon we will face a new incident, character or situation. There are crucial questions which each one of us should think about.
a) Pakistanis, particularly Pakhtuns have many wonderful qualities but at the same time some of us are intolerant and racists. These illnesses must be eradicated.
b) Some Pauktuns look down at fellow Pakistanis but they praise British invaders and occupiers. This is not right.
c) Once an American Ambassador had told me ‘you can’t buy a Pakhtun but you can always rent one’. We must do everything to prove that it is not the case. We are not greedy people.
d) We must think before we act. This can help reduce violence from individual to community level.
e) In many cases Pakhtuns deceive Pakhtuns. Those who pretend to fight against the establishment can very easily join the establishment and often at a low price.