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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  • Phil

    May I suggest you consider Clarkes point about propaganda dovetailing with entertainment.

    Most pop stars are vain, greedy people. The rebels are rarely so and serve to give an impression of rebellion. Don’t let them speak for you.

  • Mary

    Good piece from Seumas Milne on Cameron’s plans for 2014 and the waste of £50m.

    The jubilee goes on and on and on. Last night the queen held a reception for those who were involved in the propaganda.

    Queen honours stars for Diamond Jubilee celebrations{}

    No show without the ubiquitous Heston Blumenthal btw.

  • Harris Bannaris

    A fantastic article well written. Unfortunately she has become a great propaganda tool for many a wolf in sheep’s clothing…

  • doug scorgie

    O/T Privatising our schools.

    From BBC online today:

    “Prime Minister David Cameron’s former policy chief [James O’Shaughnessy] has called for profit-making firms to be brought in to run England’s persistently failing schools.”

    Ofsted has changed its inspection rules so that schools that remain “satisfactory” after three notices to improve will be designated as a failed school which can then be handed over to a profit making organisation. Clever that don’t you think?

    According to the BBC “There are currently 6,000 “satisfactory” schools in England.”

    A potential gold mine!

  • Maxter

    I agree Craig, its total propaganda. What about all the other kids murdered and maimed by the west and the Taliban? If we treat one we treat all, but better than that get the fuck out of their country!

  • Komodo

    Just under 16 million people died during WW1. Reckon it deserves holocaust-style memorials, museums, mass antiwar propaganda, bans on WW1 uniform and propaganda posters, the works. But we don’t qualify for that for some reason.

    Instead we’ll be seeing some kind of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” pastiche, with maximised commercial opportunities for Friends of Dave. And Heston Blumenthal inventing bully beef blancmange, no doubt…

    Imagine if someone proposed “celebrating” the anniversary of the foundation of Belsen. Would we ever hear the end of it?


  • John Goss

    I thought the same. Pure propaganda. The sad thing is if the CIA and MI6 had not funded the Mujahideen to fight the Soviet occupation in 1979, at a time when girls were educated in Kabul, there would never have been a need to re-establish the education of girls. We are not giving them a better way of life – just trying to restore what was stolen from them in the first place in an ideological Cold War.

    Off topic. Hot from the studio my latest satire on the racist, Theresa May.

  • Komodo

    Eerie parallel here: probably highly relevant IMO.

    The Revolutionary Socialist Party of America? Yes, I know. But most of the history is somewhere near the truth. A bit nearer is

    Theory, hope it’s wrong. Cameron is complicit in US plans to invade Iran. This will involve bloodshed on the grand scale, and Dave is hoping to reinvoke the last refuge of the scoundrel, patriotism, to ensure a sufficient supply of cannon fodder.

  • phil t

    consider …
    Why give such ‘significance’ to a ukgbnipm speech to a ‘jewish’ group? When compared to british muslims they are (an even smaller minority)

  • Mary

    You might have heard the sec-gen of the IAEA on Radio 4 Today this am. A lot about Iran of course. He explained why it cannot inspect ‘Israeli’ weapons. No logic, law or morality. He is a lawyer who has been through the US prop machine and is NOT a scientist.

    Some more demonization of Iran –

    The European Union has imposed yet more sanctions against Iran as part of its attempt to force the Iranians to abandon its nuclear programme. The BBC’s James Reynolds reports from the Turkish Syrian border and Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, explains the concerns about Iran’s nuclear facilities.

    Not linked yet but it is on the iPlayer at 1hr 50mins 45secs in at

    The item followed Thought For The Day which featured Malala.

  • phil t

    You were in there quicker than i ‘expected’
    (Otherwise it was ‘merely (mary) coincidental’ …)

  • phil t

    @mary (& so… )
    Why (do you think) does a ukgbni_pm (such as dc) give such a ‘slavering’ speech to a ‘jewish’ group … when they are, in fact, a smaller (numerical) minority than british ‘muslims’?(!)

  • engr syed sadiq hussain

    I think in this grievious situation we all the muslims especialy pakistanies are in deep confusion bcz the dramas like Malala ,Salala and Usama etc are merging here daily and we all the nation know better that these propagandas are all funded and deeply suported by the Goddamn american and western organizations USaid,UN ,CNN and mostly the damn BBC…..these all rascles are behind the only islamic simble of all the muslims ,PAKISTAN but we sware that we will never let these all to the success…….at last I would like to thanks all of u not the part of this great Devil game against the ISLAM….

  • phil t

    @engr etc
    I can assure you at least that i, me, and my ‘kind’ am/are not part of the ‘game against islam’

  • phil t

    I don’t actually have to
    Hear/ read/ see / smell / otherwise experience …
    The’demonization’ of iran,
    Because …
    (I have done my ‘homework’ …)

  • phil t

    2 dramat’c’ly different accounts:
    1 the former british soldier in bosnia
    2 she laughed foog fag hagartley
    3 they mistook his blind man’s indicator 4
    I’m blind i’m blind but i was tazord by the’secret police’n’r the less

  • English Knight

    The hasbaric sayanim (Kempe?) dare not raise their head too high above the parapet here, for fear of quick ridicule, us goyim at this blog are well awake. Same cannot be said for Huffpo though. The clincher of course is the mother of all smoking guns, the 911 symmetrical freefall collapse of the 100yd long & 47yd wide 47 storied WTC7, in its entirety – was it matzos or muzzies that done the dirty, that is the question? The the land of the free and home of the brave has ended up being an impotent hermaphrodite in its deep denial of the self evident truth.

  • ammara

    16 murdered and 15 have been hurt in another American terrorist drone strike in Orakzai Agency . Will the world media report on the children that were killed and hurt in this terrorist attack? huh… dual standards and wt about dr afia and 4000 missing pplz? shame shame zionists biased media 🙁

  • Kempe

    Sorry you’ve missed me EK but I have this thing called “a life” which has got in the way of my wasting quite as much time online as previously.

    Hmm, now a building falling downwards. Yes that is suspicious. I mean who’d have thought?

  • Suhayl Saadi

    “… an impotent hermaphrodite…” English Knight (what, Galahad, or Mordred, or Morgana Le Fey, perhaps – oh, but they were Brythonic, not English!), at 2:51pm on 17.10.12.

    Most garden snails wouldn’t mind being called hermaphrodites (“Say it loud, snails!”), but they wouldn’t wish to be labelled, ‘impotent’ (“How dare you! We are fully-endowed! Chase after him/her with your protrusion, Mr(s) Snail!”).

  • Suhayl Saadi

    “… part of this great Devil game against the ISLAM….” Engineer Hussain.

    There are certainly games being played – ‘Great Games’ and others too – but that’s nothing new. It’s not against Islam, though, quite the opposite. ‘Islam’ periodically and systemically has been very useful, politically and militarily, to the elites of the UK and USA (and to those of Pakistan).

    Pakistan needs much less ‘Islam’ and much more redistribution of wealth from the army/feudals to the people, much, much more health provision, proper education (not propaganda education, which is the situation now in state schools – I’m not talking about madrassas here), proper sewerage, reliable, non-Mafia-run power systems and so on.

    Get rid of army control, get rid of the feudals, have massive ladn reforms, get the debt interest repayments ‘forgiven’ on condition that the money will be spent on the aforementioned sectors and NOT on paramilitary Islamist cadres or on F-16s or on nukes… and that would be a start.

    Yes, Malala has become a symbol, but it’s not just Malala – many, many people have been killed by Islamist paramilitaries throughout Pakistan, esp. in the Pashtun province and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). None of those people gets special medical treatment, they just die or are disabled. And as we know, NATO also kills people there. But for Pakistan, constant iterations of ‘a plot against Islam’ is unhelpful and moves things backwards, not forwards. The army-security complex there will not give away their wealth and power. What is need, quite simply, is a revolution. NATO action probably does not help that process, possibly the opposite. But in any case, what the West needs to do – if it really wants to help – is to stop funding and arming the Pakistan military because what they are doing thereby is effectively arming the Islamist paramilitaries and the actual military – both of whom continue to oppress the people of Pakistan. There needs to be a regional peace treaty (including the Kashmir issue) involving all parties – including Iran, Russia, China, India and so on, and a demilitarisation of both India and Pakistan.

  • Roderick Russell

    KOMODO Re: your comment – “Just under 16 million people died during WW1”. I think it was at one time called a holocaust. WW1 certainly did more to shape the future of my family than any other item in recent history. I lost 3 great uncles, 2 of my great aunts had their fiancés killed, and one of my grandfathers lost an arm at Passchendaele. The tragedy is that many other families had similar or even worse experiences.
    My relatives fought for their country and for their freedoms (or so they thought), they certainly didn’t fight so that their descendents (I and family) would be denied basic rights to rule of law by corrupt establishment elites – nor did they fight so that an establishment-connected pedophile (Savile) could operate with impunity above the law for 50 years.

  • Roderick Russell

    Re KOMODO again – Re your comment – “Imagine if someone proposed “celebrating” the anniversary of the foundation of Belsen” .
    One of my late Uncles (in peacetime a Glagow GP) was part of the first medical team into the concentration camp Belsen on its liberation. 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. The shooting of Malala, a 14 year old innocent, was also done in cold blood and is all the more shocking because it was planned.

  • Jehanzeb

    @Hussain: Yes this is a game but what we need to understand in my opinion is that whatever this stunt is…her sacrifice has somehow awakened the minds of us. I just really believe if our lines proceed straight, this game will surely loose its evil element.

    @Craig Murray: dear your observation is pretty much on grounds. Lets just hope she recovers well enough to uncover the players behind her innocent sacrifice.

  • Suhayl Saadi

    I think I mentioned the proposed WW1 commemorations on another thread. So I won’t repeat myself here. Another point worth mentioning – and yes, I know ‘I would say that, wouldn’t I?’ – is that in the media, whenever those who fought in WW1 are mentioned, we hear all about the British, Canadian, New Zealand, Australian, even German, etc. troops, but never about the Indian, African-Caribbean and African (and incidentally, seldom the Turkish) troops who fought, died and were disabled in the trenches of Europe during WW1. There is slightly more awareness, I think, of the role of ‘New Commonwealth’ troops in WW2, but not WW1. I have read – I’m not sure if it’s true, it may be apocryphal – that New Commonwealth troops often were the first over the top, then Old Commonwealth ones and Irish and Scottish troops and so on, in a sort of reverse pecking order of empire.

    This is a systematic omission which I have perceived in the media over many decades. Acknowledgement of the role of these troops does not distract from the overwhelming folly – the criminal folly – that was WW1 aka ‘The Great War’, aka ‘The War to End All Wars’ – from which, in spite of all the sepia-toned, soft-focused feature films, we – or rather, those donkeys who would presume to lead us – have learned precisely nothing.

    Here’s one from Alex Harvey, from the Antonine Wall:

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