Malala Effect: Nothing will stop the fear against Taliban

Malala Yousafzai, 14, who was shot by the Taliban on Oct 9 because of her advocation in education campaign for girls.

A 14-year-old Pakistani girl, Malala Yousazfzai, was being shot by the Taliban as a form of retaliation against her education campaign. She was recently being awarded as the runner-up of TIME person of the year, right behind the US President Barack Obama, congratulations!

After undergoing medical treatment at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, she is now finally recovering from the wounds hurt by the bullet, which it pierced the skin just behind her left eye, traveled along the exterior of her skull and stayed in the muscle just above her left shoulder blade. The bullet almost took away her life, in such sense, she valued educational rights for women in Pakistan being more significant than her precious life. She was not fearful in the land where terrorism prevails.

Malala being awarded as the runner-up TIME Person of the year.

Malala being awarded as the runner-up TIME Person of the year.

TIME recognized her eagerness in promoting girls’ education in Pakistan:

She has become perhaps the world’s most admired children’s-rights advocate, all the more powerful for being a child herself. Her primary cause — securing Pakistani girls’ access to education — has served to highlight broader concerns: the health and safety of the developing world’s children, women’s rights and the fight against extremism.

Malala was sitting with classmates on a school bus on Oct 9, in Northwest of Pakistan, Swat Valley, a picturesque region that has come under the influence of Swat Taliban militants. The leader of this subgroup of Pakistani Taliban movement based in South Waziristan, Maulvi Fazlullah, espoused Islamic ideology through FM radio station.

Sudden attack by Taliban fighters

A bearded man hopped on the bus and asked “Who is Malala?”, then he shot her in the head and leg, also two of her classmates were injured. Taliban claimed responsibility after the attack, the spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan, confirmed by phone that Malala had been the target: “She has become a symbol of Western culture in the area; she was openly propagating it. Let this be lesson.” He also added that the militants would definitely attempt to kill her again even she could survive. The spokesperson told Reuters that she was “speaking against Taliban, calling President Obama her ideal leader and promoting western culture in Pashtun areas”. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) also released a 7-page statement to Pakistani media The Tribune, giving a more detailed account for the attack:

1) Malala is “grown up” at 14 and, therefore, liable for punishment; 2) In Islam and “Pakhtun traditions”, there is absolutely no room for an attack on a woman of pure virtues. But in cases where a woman is seen as a clear sinner who stands in defiance of Sharia, such a woman is not only allowed to be attacked but there is an obligatory instruction for such an action; and 3) Malala was a spy who divulged secrets of the mujahideen and the Taliban through the BBC and in return received awards and rewards from the Zionists, writing her Gul Makai diaries for the BBC.

Taliban forbid girls receive education?

Under Taliban’s interpretation of Sharia Islamic law, girls education is forbidden. Malala was born in a well-educated family, her father Ziauddin Yousafzai inspired her to be more outspoken about justice and rights, thus, her dream was to become a politician instead of a doctor. Her father was selected as Peace Ambassador by the US State Department few years ago, he was a close friend of the founder of Swat Relief Institute Zebu Jilani, whose grassroots movement aims at improving lives of women and children in Pakistan. But Taliban planned an attack against Malala because of her connections with the western ideologies, government and media, instead of her activism in educational rights, as the spokesperson has confirmed.

Malala partnered with the West to confront the Taliban

In an editorial, the New York Times called upon the army chief to back up his words of condemnation of the attack with action. It is no secret that the “action” that Washington has been demanding is that the army should launch a military offensive in North Waziristan against extremists who are entrenched there.

Few days before Taliban announced that all girls should not attend schools after January 15, Malala wrote her diary initially published on the BBC with anonymous identity recording down her feelings on the implementation of such policy. Here’s an extract:

The night was filled with the noise of artillery fire and I woke up three times. But since there was no school I got up later at 10 am. Afterwards, my friend came over and we discussed our homework. Today is 15 January, the last day before the Taleban’s edict comes into effect, and my friend was discussing homework as if nothing out of the ordinary had happened. Today, I also read the diary written for the BBC (in Urdu) and published in the newspaper. My mother liked my pen name ‘Gul Makai’ and said to my father ‘why not change her name to Gul Makai?’ I also like the name because my real name means ‘grief stricken’. […]

I was in a bad mood while going to school because winter vacations are starting from tomorrow. The principal announced the vacations but did not mention the date the school was to reopen. This was the first time this has happened. In the past the reopening date was always announced clearly. The principal did not inform us about the reason behind not announcing the school reopening, but my guess was that the Taleban had announced a ban on girls’ education from 15 January.This time round, the girls were not too excited about vacations because they knew if the Taleban implemented their edict they would not be able to come to school again. Some girls were optimistic that the schools would reopen in February but others said that their parents had decided to shift from Swat and go to other cities for the sake of their education.[…]

Malala’s outspoken frustration with the Taliban’s restrictions on female education made her being one of the targets. She recognizes the frequent activities of terrorist group, and she also understands that terrorism has been life-threatening, in particularly NATO Drone attacks, suicide bombings and planned attacks. Pakistan has lost approximately 14,510 civilians since 2003 on terrorism. Despite of the danger and fear, Malala insists raising her voice in the valley to fight for education rights for girls, her fight for educational rights appears to be more significant than her safety. Malala was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize in 2011. Yousaf Raza Gilani, Pakistani prime minister at the time, awarded her Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize.

It is hard to understand what motivates a 14-year-old girl to seek for justice and rights when there are terror threats. As she once wrote in January 2009: “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.” She could be a revolutionary bringing a new Pakistani society in the near future? Or she could be the bravest combat fighting along side with Pakistani army against the Taliban. This article has provided a detailed context about what she has been fighting for. She was interviewed by CNN one year ago before her attack, in this occasion, she articulated her boldness against the terror:

CNN: Why did you risk your life to raise your voice?
MALALA: Because I thought that my people need me, I think I should raise my voice. If I didn’t raise my voice, so when will I raise it?

CNN: Some people say that you are 14, you don’t have any rights. You have to listen to mom and dad.
MALALA: No I have rights, I have rights to education, I have the right to sing, I have the right to talk, I have the right to go to market.

CNN: What if you give an advice to a girl, may not be as courageous as you, and she said “Malala, I’m afraid. I just wanna stay in my room”.
MALALA: So I would tell her, don’t stay in your room. because God will ask you on the day of judgement. Where were you when your people were asking you? When the school blown up and when the people need you? You should come up and stand up for their rights.

CNN: If you were the president of this country, how would you handle the Taliban?
MALALA: First of all, i would like to build so many schools in this country. because education is a must thing. if you don’t have educated people, so the Taliban will come to your area. If you have educated people, they will not come.

CNN: Whether educated or not, the Taliban comes with bombs and guns, how do you handle that? Do you still talk to them?
MALALA: First of all, I would like to talk to them, I would say that what are your demands? [ We want to shut down the schools.] So I tell them don’t shut our schools, so wait a second. I will show them what Qu’ran says, and Qu’ran doesn’t say that girls are not allowed to go to school.

CNN: How do you overcome your fear? How do you say ‘Im not going to be afraid’? Where do you find the courage?
MALALA: I found courage because of my father, he supported me a lot. and my people, my friends supported me a lot. media supported me a lot.

CNN: So what are you going to do for the rest of your life?
MALALA: I want to spend my life serving people, I will be a social activist till my death. I want to be a politician in the future. I want to serve this nation, because this country needs good leaders. I think that a politician should think about his people, about his nation, he should have the feeling inside for his people, for their betterment, so this country will be rising.

We now ask: Who are the Taliban? Are they terrorists?

Objectivity and impartiality are getting increasingly hard to achieve in journalism when in comes to military affairs and terrorism. Most journalists work for media serving for national interests due to different forms of ownership. As I had an interesting discussion with a Pakistani freelance journalist Muhammed Naveed Alam earlier, each media outlet represents different national interests. Are we mentally controlled by the mainstream media by associating Taliban with terrorism? Spiritual leader of Taliban in Afghanistan, Mullah Mohammed Omar and Hakimullah Mehsud, leader of Pakistani faction of Taliban or Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP), as well as other leaders of the Taliban ‘network’ or ‘faction’, have always been the target of US and foreign intelligence services. Naveed wrote in his article “Don’t call them Taliban: “In Pakistan, several Journalists and experts argue that Taliban are not terrorists. The reason behind the attacks in Pakistan is that Pakistani forces and officials helping foreign forces to kill Taliban.”

The name of “Taliban” grew in prominence after the 9/11 attack, in which the leader Mullah Omar became one of the most wanted men. Taliban movement prevails in Afghanistan and Pakistan tribal areas , and notably poverty in these areas made the people more vulnerable to extremism. Speaking of how Taliban began, when the Soviet Army left Afghanistan in 1989, there were tens of thousands of armed rebels holding for “jihad” against the infidel Russians after the United States left the country. These US-sponsored gangs eventually captured Kabul in the civil war in 2001.

Taliban was originally emerged in Afghanistan in 1994, When there are two factions among Taliban, one is controlled by Mullah Omar, and another is Hakimullah Mehsud’s TTP,

Saudi Arab is supporting Taliban. This point could be possible because Pakistani officials always say foreign elements are funding Taliban but never mentioned their names.

Beyond the controversies…

As the 2014 NATO withdrawal date looms and prospects for Taliban peace talks evaporate, US military officials have begun to publicly name the Taliban, and its al Qaeda-linked Haqqani Network faction in particular, as a prime suspect behind the attacks by Afghan forces on Coalition forces in Afghanistan.

Read more:

What next? Negotiation or Confrontation?

Just two days before the attack, Imran Khan, the former cricket star whose political star has soared in the past year, had led a honking motorcade of supporters to the edge of the tribal belt, where they mounted a protest against CIA-directed drone strikes in the nearby mountains. They received largely favourable news media coverage.

“But after the shooting, Mr Khan came in for sharp criticism, partly because he favours negotiating with the Taliban instead of fighting them, and partly because he refused to condemn the militants in a television interview, citing safety concerns for his followers in the tribal belt”. ‘If today I start shouting slogans here against Taliban, who will save them?

Our politicians must stop manipulating terrorism for their self-interests. By setting aside their differences and by showing power of tolerance, both our rulers and opposition parties need to act upon a policy of national reconciliation.


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