Home Global Village Malala visits Swat amidst mixed feelings

Malala visits Swat amidst mixed feelings

Swat
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News Analysis |

 

Malala Yousafzai has visited her home town in Swat for the first time following the Taliban attack on her in 2012. Malala arrived in Mingora, Swat, on Saturday morning on the 31st of March. Strict security measures have been enforced in Swat to ensure her security and well being. Malala landed in Swat, accompanied by State Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, her family and others as she travelled by an army helicopter from Islamabad to Swat. Malala plans to visit her family home, her school and her friends in Swat. The Nobel Peace Prize winner had requested the authorities to allow her to pay a visit to Mingora and Shangla village in the Swat Valley, where a school has been built by the Malala Fund. The media was barred from accompanying Malala during the visit.

According to Malala’s uncle, Mahmoodul Hassan Yousafzai, the family is not afraid of going to Swat, where the militants had attempted to silence Malala’s advocacy for education in a vain attempt to kill her. Malala, then only 15, was shot by militants while on her way to school. The two girls, Kainat and Shazia, who were also travelling with Malala were also injured in the attack. With the intervention of the army Malala was taken to Combined Military Hospital Rawalpindi (CMH) in an army helicopter, while Kainat was taken by her family to the local hospital and Shazia spent a month in a military hospital in the regional capital Peshawar.

Nabeela, along with her father and twelve-year-old brother, travelled to Washington DC. Unlike Malala Yousafzai, Nabila Rehman did not receive a welcoming greeting in Washington DC and only five out of 430 Congressional representatives showed up to listen to Nabeela and her plight.

In October 2014, at age 17 Malala Yousafzai became the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize. She was awarded the Nobel along with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi. Malala’s homecoming from the UK to Pakistan, after 6 years, has been bittersweet. In an emotional press conference Malala poured out her feelings of love for Pakistan and how she has remained nostalgic for Pakistan all these years in UK.

“I have dreamed of returning to Pakistan since the past 5 years….while travelling on the streets of London or York I was told to imagine as if I am in Pakistan, travelling in the streets of Islamabad or Karachi”, stated a tearful Malala in her homecoming conference. Malala has expressed her desire to return to Pakistan permanently once she completes her education at Oxford University. “My plan is to return to Pakistan as this is my country. I have the same right on the country as any another Pakistani,” Malala stated in an interview.

Read more: Malala takes sly dig at Trump during feminism speech at WEF

Her return to Pakistan has been met with, both, positive and negative appraisals by the locals of her hometown in Swat. “We’re very happy that Malala has come to Pakistan. We welcome Malala,” stated a very excited third grade student, Arfa Akhtar, from the school where Yousafzai once studied. “I’m also Malala. I’m with Malala in this mission.”

Mohammad Nisar Khan, a resident of the Swat Valley, says the international celebrity and official protection given to the young woman overshadows the sacrifices made by others in Swat. “We were the ones who stood up against the Taliban… My four uncles and two cousins were slaughtered by the Taliban in Matta. They were brutally martyred. Yet, no one has asked about me.”

According to Malala’s uncle, Mahmoodul Hassan Yousafzai, the family is not afraid of going to Swat, where the militants had attempted to silence Malala’s advocacy for education in a vain attempt to kill her. Malala, then only 15, was shot by militants while on her way to school.

“I am not Malala day” was observed in some private schools in Pakistan. The horrid initiative had been taken up by All Pakistan Private School Federations. The federation represents 200,000 private schools in Pakistan, and some of the schools delivered a hate speech, on Friday morning, to the naïve students. The federation’s President Kashif Ali has responded to Malala Yousafzai’s autobiography by writing a book “I am not Malala.”

Malala’s own book was banned in the schools under Kashif’s association. “We found Malala’s book highly controversial, and contrary to the ideology of Islam and Pakistan,” said Mirza in a statement issued to media.

Read more: Malala honored with mural painting in India

Malala’s Diary Conspiracy

Before Malala become a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and before Malala was shot by militants, Malala was a fearful girl. The title for her first entry in the diary, which she kept for BBC, was “I am afraid”. She wrote under the pen name of “Gul Makai”, a famous brave heroine of Pashtun folklore. However several senior journalists and independent working analysts have pointed out the possibility of editing Malala’s diary.

These developments emerged after BBC’s reporter, Abdul Hai Kakar, confessed his idea to make a young girl write a diary that would give “a humanitarian face to the tragedy” in Swat. Malala’s father volunteered the name of his daughter for the mission. “He said nobody was ready to talk because everyone was afraid of the Taliban,” Kakar once stated in an interview. “But he hesitantly told [me] that if I agreed, then his daughter could work with me.”

Questions were raised whether the diary was merely “edited” or did even Malala pen the diary herself? Malala wanted to be a doctor but she reports her father would pursue her to become a politician instead. “My father told me that you have to become a politician. But I don’t like politics.”

Malala’s own book was banned in the schools under Kashif’s association. “We found Malala’s book highly controversial, and contrary to the ideology of Islam and Pakistan,” said Mirza in a statement issued to media.

A local newspaper published a report accusing Malala’s father of using his daughter for monetary gains. The news report was titled “Malala’s Diaries Were Written By The BBC Reporter” – Roznama Ummat, Pakistan, October 15, 2012. Few days later the newspaper also published the interview of former Pakistani interior minister Lt.-Gen. (retired) Hamid Nawaz, who exerted the attack on Malala might have be carried out by US agents.

Read more: Malala visits Pakistan for the first time in six years

Ahmed Quraishi, a right-wing columnist, expressed sympathy for Malala on his Facebook page but then immediately accused the U.S. government, the CIA and the Pakistani military of exploiting the girl’s tragedy in order to gain support for the war in Afghanistan. The Lahore Times published an unsigned editorial that accused the CIA of being behind the attack on Malala. Similar accusations are found on the official Facebook page of a right-wing political commentator called Syed Zaid Zaman Hamid.

‘I had a terrible dream’

Saturday 3 January

“I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taliban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taliban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools…

On my way from school to home I heard a man saying ‘I will kill you’. I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone.”

These developments emerged after BBC’s reporter, Abdul Hai Kakar, confessed his idea to make a young girl write a diary that would give “a humanitarian face to the tragedy” in Swat. Malala’s father volunteered the name of his daughter for the mission.

Since Malala’s landing on the Pakistani soil the Pakistani media has been under “moral” pressure to cover Malala’s visit under the most positive light as possible. According to an article by Saeed Afridi on Global Village Space, titled Why so many in Pakistan are scared of Brand Malala, explains how Malala has become a naïve pawn for the hate that is actually addressed to US conspiracies because there is a hate narrative breeding within Pakistan against Western imperialism. The hate and suspicion is not objected to Malala on a personal level as an individual but is against the political agendas of US to promote their war on terror.

Read more: Why so many in Pakistan are scared of “Brand Malala”?

Nabeela and Malala: Two Similar Girls but Different Nemeses

The case of Malala is used to justify drones and other US warfare in Pakistan. Whereas the case of Nabeela highlight the plight of innocent lives that have been wasted away in North Waziristan due to operations of drones.  Nabeela, along with her father and twelve-year-old brother, travelled to Washington DC. Unlike Malala Yousafzai, Nabila Rehman did not receive a welcoming greeting in Washington DC and only five out of 430 Congressional representatives showed up to listen to Nabeela and her plight. Since Malala was a victim of the Taliban she was used by war advocates while Nabeela, a faceless victim of the war on terror, will only be forgotten.


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