A Perspective Hard to Digest

A Perspective Hard to Digest

Malala is a Pashtun name which means ‘grief stricken’. In the battle of Maiwand in 1880, Malala of Maiwand, a young Pashtun lady, fought alongside the forces of Commander Ayub which won the battle during the Second-Anglo Afghan War. According to history, it is believed that the Afghans were losing the battle, until the young lady came into the battlefield and tore her scarf to motivate the troops. After more than a century, the region was blessed yet again with another ‘grief stricken’ that did things which her name suggests she would never be able to do; she outlived her name just like her predecessor.



Malala Yousafzai, studied at Khushal Public School owned by her father, in Mingora, Swat. She was attacked by a Tehreek – I – Taliban Pakistan (TTP) gunman for her constant criticism of Taliban, and due to her fight for education and women rights. The support she received from the international media such as the BBC, local media and national/international NGOs since 2009 has been massive and certainly brought her to the spotlight in front of the world – which consists of her supporters and her opposition i.e. making her a soft target and vulnerable for her enemies.


At the beginning of 2009, Malala was given the opportunity to write against Taliban by Abdul Hai Kakkar, a BBC reporter. At that period, the TTP was taking over Swat and were banning music, television, girls’ education and beheading those who did not bent to their rules. Several other girls from the school refused to write about Taliban since military operations were going on. In the end, the ‘grief stricken’ was left for sacrifice.


Every adult citizen should have a right to express and I am a firm believer of that. In the case of children, the parents need to take decisions responsibly. Malala and her friends were lucky to be flown into Army Hospitals and later being flown to UK; privilege ordinary citizens in the biggest cities of Pakistan are deprived of. If Army promises to deliver such services to ordinary citizens, believe me, the casualties from target killings in Karachi and drone strikes in Waziristan would spiral down to at least 50%. In countries like Pakistan where the government cannot ensure that children can go to school safely and express their views safely using children for war-reporting is nothing less than insane and a heinous crime.



In my personal opinion and that of many children’s-right experts, the British Broadcaster did a blunder and so did her father. Reports of her father being affiliated with Awami National Party (ANP), who swept the 2008 elections in Malakand Division due to the absence of Islamist parties, were a nuisance for the TTP and brought Ziauddin Yousafzai in the radar where a segment of the general public accuses him for using her daughter for political gain and mileage for ANP. He once went to the extent to take her to the Peshawar Press Club where she gave a speech titled “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?” which was widely reported by the media.



People in Pakistan are prone to follow conspiracies and love connecting dots; even if it does not make sense. One of the ideas popular at the moment in the country was that the attack was a CIA staged drama and endorsements from leaders such as Lord Nazir (who had retracted from his statement later) and a popular leader from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Maulana Fazl ur Rehman gave rise to the conspiracy.



International and national NGOs named their schools after her, invited her to conferences, made her sing and raised funds for education on her name, knowingly or unknowingly, even right now at the time of writing this. She was exploited because at her age a child is not able to understand all facets of life and consequences of actions one takes. Therefore, she was not in the position of taking an informed decision, she should have never been forced or encouraged for this task. Plus, the people of Swat have a history of supporting development work and education. The last ‘Wali’ of Swat was renowned for constructing schools and hospitals for his people. The people of the valley do not need any capacity building in that regard and I feel completely lost when I hear donor agencies allocating funds for such drives. One such example is of the District Children’s Assembly SWAT which was funded by UNICEF for which Malala was chosen as the Chair.



The West which demands Pakistan to ‘do more’ needs to understand that it is difficult for the people of the country to trust them since the memories of partition and wars in Pashtun areas of Pakistan and Afghanistan over a period of 30 years has left a very bad taste in the mouth. The recent support from the Western Governments and especially from individuals like Gordon Brown, who voted for military action in Iraq/Afghanistan, for Malala makes ‘this suspicious nation’ even more suspicious about the happenings surrounding the little girl. Its high time leaders in Pakistan and around the world stop gaining mileage from this horrible episode and the best confidence building measure they can arrange at the moment is to allow the people of the two countries to live, peacefully, once again. Celebrating #MalalaDay, giving her space to speak at UN and nominating her for Nobel Peace Prize (less people in Pakistan consider its credibility, since the day the jury chose Obama for this coveted title) will make her more vulnerable, will cause more harm than benefit. The region has sacrificed one Malala more than a century ago and one was about to be sacrificed.



Please allow our girls and women live in peace, please.

Abdul Basit Khwaja

A social worker and contributor for The News/Geo blogs

  • Reality Check

    Khawaja Sahib – Aren’t we going too far in this article. If Malala is that much in love with Pakistan and fighting for the education of women here in Pakistan then she must come back to Pakistan and carry on her mission besides having dangers lurking around her. What a pity, a father has used her own little daughter putting her under a lot of dangers to achieve his goals in life. I am very sorry what happened to Malala but think about hundred of other girls still living in the vicinity of Malala and going to school every day as usual. Why you are making Malala special while for me every girl who is going to school for education is special doesn’t matter they have not have the skills of out spoken . Mr Khawaja you are living in the world of fantancy and cannot see the ground realities for those who are living abroad specially in the western world go and read the comments that they make about Muslims and I have no heart to past some of those comments. Malala is an opportunity for them to disgrace Muslims because of a small group of Taleban’s, no it doesn’t make any sense . Can you believe they are nominating her for Noble Peace Price so that they can rub more salt on the wounds of Muslims not Taliban. Khawaja Sahib grow up and start writing articles which can beneficial the Muslim world but not for western world specially in this case of Malala.

  • a0197612

    Interesting how Mr. Khawaja, as most in Pakistan, turn every story in to a West bashing bonanza. Unless, Pakistanis take responsibility for their own acts and destiny, nothing will change.

    One of the most corrupt country in history has convinced itself that is a victim of conspiracies by outsiders otherwise all will be dandy.

  • Anonymous

    “In 2002 the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict entered into force. It outlaws the involvement of children under age 18 in hostilities, raising the previous standard of age (15 years) set by the Convention and the 1949 Geneva Conventions and their 1977 Additional Protocols. As well as requiring States to raise the age for compulsory recruitment and direct participation in conflict to 18, the Optional Protocol requires State parties to raise the minimum age for voluntary recruitment beyond the current minimum of 15.

    Another milestone was set in July 2002 when the Statute of the International Criminal Court entered into force, making the conscription, enlistment or use of children under 15 in hostilities by national armed forces or armed groups a war crime.” (UNICEF – Child Soldiers)

    Murdering thugs and morons that the TTP are, one does not expect them to abide by any rules. The use of children like Malala for what may appear as war propaganda by ANY side- even if supposedly good cause, is a manifestaion of the dirty politics of war. Perhaps some one will clarify the contradictions that appear in the Optional Protocol, when applied to Malala.

    Yes ‘Please allow are girls and women to live in peace’ along with the boys and men and let them have their rights to education.