Malala Yousafzai, a 19 years old Pakistani girl who rose to prominence on global scene and earned adoration following her brave recovery from gunshot wounds, and for her espousal of women’s education, has triggered a backlash and waves of indignation in Pakistan.
Malala Yousafzai – the youngest ever nobel laureate, received huge recognition from around the world, but the Pakistani education and women’s rights activists are still skeptical in her home country.
Conspiracy theories relating to her connection to Western countries began to circulate around Yousafzai soon after she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman on her way home from school in October of 2012.
Malala, after the incident airlifted to the Great Britain where she not only received free reconstruction surgery on her face and neck, but her father was granted a job by the Pakistani government at a consulate there.
The young girl has also received a multi-million dollar book deal (resulting in the recent publication of her much-hyped memoirs, “I Am Malala”) and has enjoyed the company of the world’s movers and shakers.
Malala has also made various television appearances, spoke before the United Nations General Assembly in New York and the World Bank in Washington and visited Buckingham Palace in London. A portrait of her, created by British painter Jonathan Yeo, went on display in the National Portrait Gallery in London.
Malala – Pakistan’s divisive figure?
Yet, in Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai remains a divisive figure, loved and hated equally. Girls from conservative faction, aspiring to complete their education idealize her as a role model, while young men and women with access to social media despise her for being a Western puppet.
When and why did it all go wrong for Malala in her own country?
The escalated hatred towards her mainly originated from religious conservatism and opposition to female empowerment. But it also taps into scepticism towards a decade-long fight against militants which many Pakistanis regard as being imposed by United States.
Malala as an individual is not the culprit, but it’s Malala who has been symbolized and wrongly identified by Pakistanis as a Western provocation against the entire nation. This illustrates clearly what the controversy over Malala is truly about: Who’s controlling the narrative?
Malala – Puppet for US Imperialism?
Malala has become an attractive western commodity, beyond any shadow of doubt that her untiring efforts for education especially for women are really commendable, however the extent to which she is being exploited by her new mentors in west is something which should not be ruled out.
Malala has been surrounded by care, offered opportunities and her story given immense media coverage. That does not happen for most women. Many go unheard no matter how vocal they may be or what risks they take, they simply don’t fit into a popular narrative. Why not fly out every child harmed by US drones to the west for the most up to date medical care, there are plenty for well-wishers to assist.
In her various media interviews, she has spoken strongly against violence. She told, “You must not treat others with cruelty… You must fight others through peace and through dialogue and through education.” At White House she blatantly opposed drone attacks, she said, “drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people.“
However, it is worth noting that while she has been outspoken regarding Taliban violence , it was only last year – after her high-profile speeches, nominations, awards, that she has condemned American violence. This silence has led her own countrymen to question her allegiance. some believe that Yousafzai is “part of a nebulous Western plot to humiliate their country and pressure their government
Some believe that she is “figure of the West,”, if not then why is she letting herself be used in an effort to potentially subject Nigerian girls – and mothers, and boys and their fathers – under US military violence?
Yousafzai declared in an op-ed that the “girls in Nigeria are my sisters,” but how about the girls in Iraq and Afghanistan? How about the girls in Yemen who suffered from drone-induced miscarriages?
Malala should not be used as a diversion to distract away from other women that have been fighting in British courts for years to highlight injustice and the wrongdoing of government. This does not help the cause of any woman while one is exploited and others are being suppressed!