The Tragedy of Malala 109


There is no doubt Malala Yousufzai is a remarkable girl; and that the bigots responsible for her shooting are appalling. But that is only one aspect of Malala’s multi-faceted tragedy.

Here in Accra I have been watching the re-broadcast of the BBC World TV documentary about her, made two years ago. Here is a very revealing and deeply disturbing excerpt that casts a grim light on young Malala’s fate. She is twelve years old in this exchange:

Malala: “I want to ba a doctor but my father told me you have to be a politician. But I don’t like politics.”
Father: “My daughter can be better than a doctor.”

This was the most interesting part of the entire documentary, and the North American accented presenter completely failed to pick up on it. Poor Malala; her desire for an education was genuine and highly commendable; but she was thrust into the firing line by an ambitious father and an ambitious documentary maker apparently unconcerned by her direct statement that she was being manipulated against her will.

Her father’s political ambitions centre around a party representing Swat’s rapacious feudal landlord class (Alice Albinia’s Empires of the Indus is an excellent and highly readable account for some basic background). The Taliban are an extremely nasty manifestation of ancient hatreds and social structures, but their emergence as a potent force could not have happened without genuine grievances to be exploited; it is hard to think of a more egregious grievance than the feudal landlord system.

Having been shot, Malala is now receiving world class treatment in Birmingham. I most anxiously hope she recovers fully and goes on to a happy and fulfilled life as a doctor. I only wish that more of the children badly injured in the war, including the hundreds of children younger than Malala injured in US drone strikes, received the same level of care and treatment. They don’t. They are left to struggle on and, frequently, die.

Because the truth is that she is not getting this treatment because that is what is done for children shot or blown up in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Plainly that is not the case. She is getting this treatment because she became, and remains, an exploited propaganda symbol. If they really cared about her as a child , they would give the same level of medical care and of publicity to the many, many children injured by “our” side. But we are not to be shown those.


109 thoughts on “The Tragedy of Malala

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  • Propaganda class #1

    Ah, that poor little girl. Keep looking. Yes, that’s right – look at the poor little girl… The little girl is having an operation soon… yes, that’s right she might die so do keep looking.

    While you are looking, and empathising and going ‘poor thing’ try and remember that the ONLY reason you know anything about this girl is because they don’t want you reading about stuff like http://dawn.com/2012/09/17/nato-killed-afghan-women-on-black-weekend/

  • Komodo

    @ Roderick Russell:
    The horror of Belsen was not just the large number of innocent people who died, but that it was done in cold blood by a modern advanced nation.

    The horror of WW1 was not just the large number of innocent people who died, but that it was done in cold blood by all the (then) modern advanced nations.

  • Propaganda class #1

    “What he saw there was so horrible that it was still giving him nightmares 40 years later. The horror of Belsen was not just the large number of innocent people who died, but that it was done in cold blood by a modern advanced nation.”

    What gas chambers? Mass graves? Crematoria burning thousands of corpses a day?

    Or a camp whos inmates had been left starved and ravaged by typhus, like most of the German population at the time, due to every train line and road in Germany being destroyed by the Allies.]
    “but that it was done in cold blood by a modern advanced nation.”

    And what exactly is the ‘it’ you refer to? You seem to be creating the impression that Belsen was a ‘death’ camp or similar. Educate yourself before posting ‘holocaust’ flannel. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bergen-Belsen_concentration_camp

    Even those that actively promote the Holocaust concede that no camps in Germany were used for mass killing.

  • Komodo

    No, Bergen-Belsen wasn’t a death camp. *Only* about 40,000 people died there…but it wasn’t set up for mass executions. Auschwitz (best estimate 1.1 to 1.5 million) was, however. You presumably believe the assertions of Fred Leuchter: however the use of Auschwitz as a place of mass execution is well-documented, not least in surviving German files. Summary:

    http://www.holocaust-history.org/auschwitz/pressac/technique-and-operation/pressac0016.shtml

    The holocaust happened, get over it. The propaganda purposes to which it has been put since are quite another matter, though.

    Yes, the Allies more or less destroyed the civilian infrastructure in Germany, and yes, this led to starvation, and yes, this was the intention. And yes, they’d have done exactly the same to us (see North Atlantic campaign, etc). Germany was a good example of what happens when a country’s leaders start glamorising warfare.

    Around 63 million (conservatively) died worldwide in WW2, and it too deserves a memorial to the tragedy rather than any kind of celebration.

  • Mary

    Avaaz are now piling into the propaganda.

    Subject: Malala’s hope

    Dear friends,

    Fourteen-year-old Malala was shot by the Pakistani Taliban for championing girls’ education. Now, this courageous child is clinging to life. If we all stand with her, we can help make her dream come true. Click below to call on Pakistan’s leaders to support girls in school — when we reach one million signers the UN Education Envoy has agreed to deliver it in person to Pakistan’s president.

    The Taliban drove up to Malala’s school and shot her in the neck and brain. Despite being hit at close range, this fourteen-year-old champion of girls’ education is surviving.

    Many in Pakistan and around the world have now united behind Malala and her cause. This is a tipping point moment and if we act now we can help achieve the very thing she was targeted for: let’s call on the government of Pakistan to fund girls attending school, starting with her province.

    This is our chance to turn Malala’s horror into hope. At her very young age she is an example of courage and determination, but now she is fighting to survive, and it’s our turn to help her win her dream. Sign the petition — when 1 million people have signed the UN education envoy, Gordon Brown, will deliver our call in person to the President of Pakistan, and the Pakistani media:

    http://www.avaaz.org/en/malala_hope_f/?bYpCcbb&v=18812

    Malala drew the world’s attention to the Taliban’s reign of terror in North-West Pakistan by writing a blog for the BBC. Her writing records the devastating consequences of extremism which include the systematic destruction of hundreds of girls’ schools and violent intimidation of thousands of families.

    Pakistan’s constitution says girls should be educated alongside boys, but politicians have ignored that for years. Only 29% of girls attend secondary school. Even if only half of them finished, Pakistan could grow 6% faster every year. Study after study has shown the positive impact on personal and national income when girls are educated. Malala has drawn the world’s attention, and her President has spoken out strongly for her cause. So let’s help her persuade the government to roll out a massive girls stipend programme, plus school buildings and teacher training. Money is available, what’s lacking is political will.

    Let’s turn this shock at the Taliban’s attack on a young girl into a wave of international pressure that forces Pakistan to address girls’ education. Click below to stand with Malala and support a massive girls’ education campaign in Pakistan, backed by resources, security and most importantly the will to fight the extremists who tear down Pakistan.

    Let’s come together and stand in solidarity with a brave, young activist, who is showing the world how one little schoolgirl can stand up to armed and dangerous extremists.

    With hope and determination

    Emma, Alaphia, Alex, Ricken, Ari, Wissam, Rewan and the rest of the Avaaz team

    followed by five links and with a photo of Malala on the RH side of the page.
    ‘Fourteen-year-old Malala was shot by the Pakistani Taliban for championing girls’ education. Now, this courageous child is clinging to life. If we all stand with her, we can help make her dream come true. Click below to call on Pakistan’s leaders to support girls in school — when we reach one million signers the UN Education Envoy has agreed to deliver it in person to Pakistan’s president: sign the petition.

    plus an appeal for contributions.
    ~~~~

    You see the name of the warmonger/killer of brown skinned people and now UN Envoy, Gordon Brown, within but George Soros’s name seems to have been omitted at the end!

  • Mary

    Hard to tell who is doing the ‘reporting’ from Syria. James Reynolds, Mike Thomson or AVAAZ?

    The disappeared. Radio 4 Today

    Human rights groups working in Syria say that at least 28,000 people are missing after being taken from their homes or grabbed in the street by Syrian soldiers or militia. Some suggest the figure may be much higher.

    But even the conservative estimates would mean the number who have “disappeared” in just 19 months equals the number of people kidnapped during Argentina’s long “Dirty War” that began in the 1970s.

    In some cases young children have been taken with their parents, and talk of torture is common.

    The campaign organisation, Avaaz, which has been monitoring the claims and talking to some of the families involved, says the abductions are part of a deliberate strategy to terrorise families and communities who are opposed to the government.

    Mike Thomson’s report begins with news coverage of the story by the BBC’s James Reynolds.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/today/hi/today/newsid_9761000/9761056.stm includes audio clip

  • nevermind

    Today, after over 100 years of regulating and championing low paid agricultural workers, the AWB, Agricultural Wages Board, has been abolished by the Tories, another swipe at the lowest paid and the hardest workers.

    What next after we sooo saw off the gang masters and slave merchants, and and and, will we bring back work houses? such a neat idea for our NEETS, regual mass rising in the morning, exercises and off to work, breakfast on the bus and picking leeks for the rest of the day. Current wage for these workers is £ 6.91.

    And large multinationals getting away with paying taxes in Switzerland, move their profits to blighty and watch the treasury ring their hands, whilst retired experts in tax law are lauded and given banquets in their honour, so they can divulge the tax avoiding secrets of their trade.

    despicable, Orson Wells would have written a blockbuster about such bedlam.

  • Mary

    Nevermind. Ref your post above on the abolition of the AWB. The Tolpuddle Martyrs suffered in vain. Are they now rising up from their graves here and in Canada as we have let this happen?

    http://www.socialist.net/the-tolpuddle-martyrs-trade-unions-state.htm

    From Wikpedia

    When sentenced to seven years’ transportation, George Loveless wrote on a scrap of paper the following lines:

    God is our guide! from field, from wave,
    From plough, from anvil, and from loom;
    We come, our country’s rights to save,
    And speak a tyrant faction’s doom:
    We raise the watch-word liberty;
    We will, we will, we will be free!

    They became popular heroes and 800,000 signatures were collected for their release. Their supporters organised a political march, one of the first successful marches in the UK, and all, except James Hammett (who had a previous criminal record for theft) were released in 1836, with the support of Lord John Russell, who had recently become Home Secretary. Four of the six returned to England, disembarking at Plymouth, a popular stopping point for transportation ships. A plaque next to the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth’s historic Barbican area commemorates this.

    Hammett was released in 1837. Meanwhile the others moved, first to Essex, then to London, Ontario, where there is now a monument in their honour and an affordable housing co-op/trade union complex named after them. They are buried in a small cemetery on Fanshawe Park Road East in London, Ontario. James Brine is buried in St. Marys Cemetery, St. Marys, Ontario. He died in 1902, having lived in nearby Blanshard Township since 1868. Hammett remained in Tolpuddle and died in the Dorchester workhouse in 1891.

    RIP

  • Komodo

    Farming minister David Heath said: “Agricultural wages boards were designed almost 100 years ago when conditions were very different to the modern age, and there was little to protect workers from unscrupulous employers.

    “Now we have the National Minimum Wage and other employment protections, it’s about time we got rid of a burdensome anomaly.

    Aren’t we forgetting something, David? Of course, Tories never read the Guardian, but you’d hope something of the real world filters into their arrogant heads from time. In vain.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/jan/11/immigration.foodanddrink

    Something else we seem to be forgetting is that a farm worker nowadays has to be more skilled and more flexible than his predecessors. 100 years ago a farm would support half a dozen or more full-time labourers, each of them quite narrowly specialised, as well as part-timers in the locality. Now the same farm may have one or two hands, covering a variety of functions.

    Heath is apparently quite happy that agricultural workers get no more than the national wage, and can be readily undercut by foreign workers supplied by agencies which do not give a flying one for minimum wage legislation. The work would break the obese, ex-optician and current jack-of-all- Parliamentary trades within a week. How bloody dare he?

    As lib-dem MP for Somerton and Frome, I can only assume that he is defending the interests of his farmer chums at the golf club. He would do better to do something about supermarket purchasing policy.

  • aftab

    i am pleased after reading your article on web that still european can speak truth even if it is against their stretigic and political benefits it is necessary for perpetuality of humanity . i am not fanatic a little bit secular and strongly against cruisades which are still running and crushing humanity . conflict between islam and christianity is major cause of war and unrest in the world it may cause of a nuclear war . we have to stop it befor it happend.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    See what I meant earlier? Aftab’s comment at 2:28pm on 19.10.12 typifies the stance.

    “still european can speak truth even if it is against their stretigic and political benefits it is necessary for perpetuality of humanity . i am not fanatic a little bit secular and strongly against cruisades which are still running and crushing humanity . conflict between islam and christianity is major cause of war and unrest in the world” Aftab, at 2:28pm on 19.10.12

    It’s well-meant wrt the blog and so on. But where does one start? It’s based on the Jihadist (and to some extent, also the Neocon) vision of the world as an existential and apocalyptic ‘clash of civilisations’ based on religion. This convenient belief is normative in large swathes of Pakistani (and to some extent in Pakistani diasporic) discourse.

  • Clark

    Suhayl Saadi, 20 Oct, 2:22 pm:

    Excellent comment, but I’d like to suggest a different style:

    If you put the name of the contributor first thing, as I have here, it may draw their attention to your reply.

    From Aftab’s language, English is not his/her first language. Maybe you should avoid contractions like “wrt”. Words like “swathe”, “normative”, “diasporic” etc. may not be understood.

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  • thatcrab

    Hi Tod, that is quite a boiling pot of a forum there, but the story “How do we know the Malala Yousufzai story is real?” seems regrettably all to plausible to me.

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