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.

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109 thoughts on “The Tragedy of Malala

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  • Komodo

    That’s beautiful, that is. And capable of extension.

    “Would you blow into this bag, please, Sir?”
    “I have advised myself that that breathalyser evidence is irrelevant to your enquiry, Officer. No.”

  • Dr Paul

    Why is it that in practically every report about this brave girl is it not mentioned that she is a supporter of the International Marxist Tendency, a Trotskyist current? See here for the IMT’s statement on the assassination attempt.

    Talking about the big powers and Islamist assassins, I remember back in the mid-1980s being shown some official British government press-packs aimed at the non-UK press which presented the Afghan Islamist guerrillas as the modern-day equivalent of the French wartime resistance, with photographs of these guys wielding guns and missiles. Nice to know who one’s friends are.

  • Stephen Morgan

    I reqad a book from the local library a couple of years ago which claimed the Taleban first came to power amongst the scramble of warlords after the Soviet withdrawal by rescuing children from Bacha Bazi. From which they went on to national power. Certainly they had some genuine popularity compared to the warring warlords and the genocidal “Northern Alliance”.

    I’m no fan of the Taleban, but they were at worst not much worse than those that have replaced them.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    Yes, wrt Asperger’s and autism in general, it’s a spectrum. At the milder end of Asperger’s, as with all things psychological, it can be hard to differentiate the soft signs from what are simply manifestations of someone’s personality – i.e. someone within the ‘neurotypical’ range. It gets easier to define, the more marked the traits. It’s a continuum.

  • Ben Franklin (Anti-intellectual Colonial American Savage version)

    Yes, Suhayl. It seems autism became a huge tent, just as asthma is a blanket diagnosis. Testing is expensive, so it is proscribed, and therefore treatment becomes generic. My youngest son exhibited symptoms which suggested autism, and I extrapolated heavy metals to be the culprit in the meteoric rise in cases. Anecdotally, I put him on organic milk, (he consumed lots of milk) thinking that couldn’t hurt, and it did soften some of the symptoms.

  • doug scorgie

    Dr Paul,

    Is there something wrong with the International Marxist Tendency?

    I’m not a member myself, in fact I’ve never heard of them before, but can they be any worse than Blair; Cameron; Thatcher; Bush; Cheney; Netanyahu?

    Are they worse than the corporate arms industry? Worse that the Zionists?

    Perhaps the IMT are just using her as the British State is.

  • Mary

    Starbucks pay no UK corporation tax on sales of £400m pa and MP Stephen Williams is asking for a boycott of their outlets. He is the LibDem MP for Bristol West.

    Does he know this about Starbucks and that they have been on the BDS list for some time?

    Howard Shultz, the chairman of Starbucks is an active zionist….

    His blog {}

  • Mary

    From an update. How disgusting esp at Guantanamo.

    Starbucks has opened outlets in US bases in Afghanistan and Iraq, and at the illegal torture centre in Guantanamo Bay. Customer Relations say “Starbucks has the deepest respect and admiration for U.S. military.. who risk their lives to protect Americans and our values of freedom and democracy”. Petty Officer Barry Tate who is serving in Guantanamo Bay agrees that Starbucks is helping “lift the morale” of the guards and interrogator’s at Guantanamo Bay.

  • doug scorgie

    From George Galloway today:

    “Why has the chair of the West Yorkshire Police Authority Mark Burns-Williamson not moved for the suspension of Chief Constable Sir Norman Bettison after the damning Hillsborough report?

    “I have already put down a parliamentary motion calling for the chief constable’s resignation and although he has said that he will retire next year that is not good enough. He should be suspended forthwith pending the outcome of the various inquiries.

    “And the public needs to be told why the people with the power to do this have done nothing. Burns-Williamson has been the chair of the authority since 2003 and he needs to explain to the people of West Yorkshire why he has failed to remove this pernicious chief constable from day-to-day control of the force. It is destabilising for the police officers and it’s an outrage to the families of the dead of Hillsborough.

    “Burns-Williamson of Labour is also the leading candidate to become the handsomely-paid police commissioner next month. Let him start as he hopes to go on by calling an emergency meeting and sending Bettison home to polish his gong.”

    I am under the impression that if Bettison is suspended he can be held to account by the IPCC investigation; if he is allowed to resign he cannot!

    And Burns-Williams wants to be the Police Commissioner!! It stinks of corruption to me.

  • Vronsky

    I had a long term partner who I think was Asbergers. Ironically, she was a learning support teacher dealing with, among other things, children with Asbergers. In her flat I found a leaflet about Asbergers, my first encounter with the idea. Reading it, I thought she was trying to understand herself and trying to message me that this was her problem (it seemed the leaflet had been deliberately left where I might find it). I mentioned this to her. Disaster. She had no such thought at all. I’m not autistic, she said. Yet that was the kindliest view of her behaviour.

    As a partner she had to go. My children hated her (I was a single parent at the time). I told them she was autistic, but they told me that she was wicked and manipulative, and they had to save me from her. I’m a dutiful father and wouldn’t make my children uncomfortable, so she was discarded. My children are content, but I miss that awful woman every minute of every day.

  • Duncan McFarlane

    Hadn’t seen that documentary and very good point about the care she got being for propaganda value rather than given to all wounded children in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

  • phil t

    Exactly …
    Or/& … more imprecisely …
    The ‘smart’ bombs often miss and …
    … the drones often kill those other than (thosewho the u.s. pres. Agrees 2 target on his ‘terror tues.’) …
    … and in a nation of 170 million (+/-) , such as pakistan , y
    oung women do suffer gunshot wounds to the head and …

  • phil t

    Look at news reports from usa from the past few weeks … you find, almost certainly , local news american stories about a teenage girl / young woman with gunshot wounds to her head …
    Who is to blame?
    What are the ‘underlying cultural causes’ …?
    (You conclude …?
    (I and my family are fortunate to live in such a relatively peaceful state – with gun control – such as …))

  • ToivoS

    This anecdote is without political import but Craig’s story reminded me of this. At the time I was on the faculty of an ivy league medical school. There was a mother and daughter, recent immigrants from the soviet union visiting us. The daughter wanted to talk to me about her ambitions to become a doctor. Of course, I gave her encouragement. Later in discussions with the mother I mentioned this discussion with her daughter and the mother most vehemently stated that that was out of the question. She said her daughter was a talented pianists (at 14?) and that she would never waste her talents in such a mundane profession as medicine. Lost track of them after that, so do not know what happened.

  • Jives

    @ Vronsky,

    Thanks for your honesty there.

    I’ve had similiar experiences and there sure aint any manuals for this stuff.

    Trust you and your kids intuition and pine with wise bitter-sweet hindsight…

  • Mary

    Cameron spoke at the UJIA gathering two nights ago.

    So barmy-smarmy, so juvenile and a contradiction in nearly every sentence, almost certainly scripted by Tel Aviv. I’m shaking with rage. Our PM is clearly a dangerous lunatic, a menace to our country and to the rest of the world. He needs to be locked up.

    “There is no contradiction between being a proud Jew, a committed Zionist and a loyal British citizen.” Ye gods!

    The speech

    PS Where is Werritty?

  • Mary

    Routine or not? They always seem to having joint military exercises.

    Democracy Now- 16 Oct 2012
    U.S. and Israel to Launch Largest-Ever Joint Air Defense Drill

    The United States and Israel are preparing to begin their largest joint air and missile defense exercise. As many as 3,500 U.S. personnel and 1,000 members of the Israel Defense Forces are expected to take part in the three-week exercise. Britain and Germany will also participate.

    A knowledgeable friend is concerned about the closure of the British presence at Basra. Said this following Cameron’s remark at the UJIA dinner that ‘now is not the time to attack Iran’ –

    “Now is not the time to strike Iran” sounds pretty darn sinister to me. What are they planning? Further the following day, today, they announce closing the Consulate in Basra. Basra, ten mins from the border, sharing the Shatt al Arab with Iran (remember our lost sailor lads and lasses) any British in Basra would be slaughtered, dragged through the streets if there is an attack – they’d also be at risk of mega radiation poisoning as would the whole region. With all the sabre rattling I’d lay money they feel darn unsafe from the people already. The British Army’s finest didn’t exactly endear themselves to the population and now all this.

    Basra oil terminal, Rumailah oil field, the real commercial gems, Basra port – and the Brits are closing their Consulate, the hub of business, dealings (read shenanigans) they are up to something, or know something, big time.”


  • Mary

    Further to what you were saying the other day Mark (Golding).

    The recent EU move to take Press TV off the air is to be seen as part of a continued process of media violation against this alternative channel.

    On Monday, UK-based Eutelsat, which is run by Michel de Rosen, a Zionist Israeli-French, stopped carrying Press TV and some 18 other channels from Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting (IRIB), a move which Gary Follows, Arqiva Head of Public Relations, says is a “result of reinforced EU Council sanctions and repeated requests by France’s broadcasting authority for the permanent switch-off of the Iranian channels.” UK-based Arqiva is the service supplier which held the IRIB contract.

    The first attempts to deprive an ever-increasing European audience of accessing Press TV started in the UK when British office of communication (Ofcom) initiated a shrewd ruse to get of rid of the channel and technically put an end to an alternative critical voice once and for all. To this end, they needed a political tool. And who could be a better choice than Maziar Bahari who had already filed a lawsuit against the channel for airing a 10-second soundbite, which was part of an interview with him in 2009.


  • Jay

    Thanks George Galloway.
    You really got it right again. How the policies of this country benefit the white man.

    It’s about all men and women.

    Incompetamce is neither black or white its just incompetant.

    We are all being played.

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