The real Malala drama


It is nothing but an exposé of the Pakistani society and nation itself

One would reckon that a shot in the head of a 15-year-old girl advocating education, against the agenda of barbaric monsters and risking their wrath, would shake the nation into unanimously becoming a steel wall of support behind her. Not in Pakistan. Not in a society so deeply divided on issues that invite no second thoughts in most societies.

The attack on Malala a year ago and her fight of survival was the only phase that saw the Pakistani people raising their hands in prayers for her, yet her subsequent rise has left many seething in ire, leaving others with bad taste in their mouth.

Malala’s nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize and her being the global favourite for the prize resuscitated the riling against her in her very own country.

And the riling itself, has roots within this society.

Pakistanis, as a people, have been socialised into a society that inherently resents recognition, acknowledgement and achievement if earned by anyone apart from themselves. It is disliked and downplayed with passionate disdain.

Even if it is a 16-year-old girl. Jealousy in Pakistan creates a genuine, and otherwise lacking, sense of unity with no bounds of age, class, ethnicity and language. After all, how many of us can boast of having celebrated our 16th birthday by addressing the UN; getting nominated for a Nobel and claiming world-wide recognition and fame?

For decades, Pakistanis are also suffering from a chronic case of the diseased, conspiracy-theory mindset molded on sheer McCarthyism. Indoctrinated by the state textbooks that brim with propaganda; the generation that was schooled reading those and heightened by general ignorance, it has only nourished. The late Ardeshir Cowasjee once penned in a column of his for Dawn that we like to believe Pakistan to be the nucleus of the world. It is this self-constructed myth that misguides the majority to believe the world is engaged in a constant pursuit of conspiracies against the beacon of development, progress, peace and prosperity that Pakistan has always been, as it is today.

Moreover, the conspiracy-theory mindset is used as an instrument to make sense of events and incidents in Pakistan. An unfavorable occurrence, such as Malala’s shooting, and especially if it yields the global stare, is fit to be framed as a conspiracy to ‘malign Pakistan and damage its image’; therefore, naturally, Malala becomes a Western stooge, who has left many of these people confused by being both a Western stooge and meeting the President of the USA and letting him know clearly of her stance against drone attacks and the cruelty they are to her country and countrymen. Mind-baffling.

It would perhaps, be beneficial to wake up from this hopeful slumber and see that any image that Pakistan may have had, has crumbled into nothing since a while now; therefore the image-insecurity has no basis to exist either. There is no image for us to maintain. If we are to build one, it will take years because that necessitates creeping out of the narrow conspiracy-theory worldview that rejects any call for us to look within and identify what plagues us, rather than ascribing the plagues to foreign origins, for the correct identification of problems is the first step to fix them. Fixing our problems would build and fix any image that is to stay, as blogger and writer Abdul Majeed Abid describes it: only a country’s reality reflects in its image; a negative reality will produce a negative image.

But what is rather worrying is also the direction of the image-insecurity, which is more alarmed at the coverage and publicity of an unpleasant happening in Pakistan than the happening itself. It is not the attack on Malala that often bothers many, it is the global attention the incident received that concerns them for it highlights the brutality in Pakistan. Even though the fact that this very form of brutality, terrorism, has become Pakistan’s predominant reality should be beyond the grasp of denial for us.

Remarkably, many of the seemingly educated have been seen to be the most vehement in expression against the respect and admiration being lent to Malala from every corner of the globe as ‘undue’.

It is at this point that popular blogger Sana Saleem’s argument becomes most pertinent:

‘It’s true that not all human rights violations get the attention they deserve, the media industry we have is at best manipulative and heavily politicised. When children that are reported dead in drone strikes or military action do not get the attention they deserve, attention that would call an end to extra-judicial murders, we are in the right to be angry. But we are bigoted, hypocritical and self-flagellating when we blame the victim of one act of terror for the lack of acknowledgement of the other.’

The reason many urban dwellers cannot fathom the fanfare surrounding Malala lies in their social and geographical locations and situations. As one Twitter-user @pindiobuoy commented: “The urban dwellers can’t get their heads around the barriers the rural girls have to overpower [to attend school].”

Some are merely skeptic of the Western hullabaloo around her, and understandably so. As London-based Turkish writer and academic Ziya Meral tweeted: ‘Malala is inspiring, but really hope there are people who will protect her from consumption by Western media, Hollywood, ‘speaker’ market’.

But mostly, there are those who are just exasperated by the commotion surrounding her, misinterpreting her head-shot as her claim to fame. It has not been the shot in the head which Malala received that thrust her into global popularity and adoration, it is her cause of education her resolve; her maturity; her pacifism; her determination; her courage to have stood up to savages; and her resilience as both a target and victim of terrorism which makes her nothing less than the spirit of Pakistan in the fight against it. Malala is Pakistan. Honouring her is honouring our fight, our battle.

The real Malala drama does not have Malala Yousafzai as the central character, it has the people of Pakistan in the main role playing out their entrenched hate, bigotry, misogyny with the props of denialism, conspiracy theories and McCarthyism. The hand that triggered the gun also triggered these social characteristics and foul national features, a part of the wider persisting social phenomena in Pakistan, to play out collectively. The real Malala drama is nothing but an exposé of the Pakistani society and nation itself.

Hafsa Khawaja writes on national and global affairs. She blogs at


    • I respectfully disagree.Conspiracy theories have surrounded almost every major national or international incident.No way stopping it.It comes from the curious minds who give alternates to what really happened and what would explain a lot.Malala was a simple girl.There were thousands of other right activists around the globe but she got attention only because she got shot.In pakistan there is no more violation of right of girls getting education at least by the government.This article continuously tries to convince us that Malaga case has to be PROMOTED AS IT WILL NOT CAUSE ANY HARM TO ALREADY DESTROYED PAKISTAN's image.Also the reason it gives for conspiracy theory is only soul funny.Conspiracy theories are there because the matter was never cleared in such a manner to cover up the plot holes.

  1. u r the most intelligent person in this world.. U made B52 n cruise missile n even stealth hellicopter.. U were the one who gave pakistan a nuclear bomb. How come u assessment would turn wrong.. U r great bloody same nation who u r talking about.. Make Malala sit on ur head please..

  2. Thousands have been maimed and disfigured by this US sponsored terror against the people of Pakistan yet only Malaala figures everywhere, why? Again because she is sponsored by US.

      • Sorry to learn you been "done".How many times? Can you recall?We know the pepetrator.You would not remmember for obvious reasons.

    • The New York Times newspaper was already interviewing Malala BEFORE she got shot. She had made videos chronicling the Taliban's closing of schools in Swat and when she did get shot there were already many people interested in her plight.

  3. Now that our initial disappoinment over Malaala not winning the Nobel peace prize is waning let us ask ourselves the following questions and try to answer them.
    1) why should she have won it?2) Why are the taliban happy about it? 3) In what way have the Moslem countries rewarded her?
    Firstly it brings to mind a young innocent girl traveling to school being shot with the intention to kill is miracaculously saved by the Pakistani neurosurgeons and sent uk for her own safety and further treatment. The former was much more important than the latter which could have beeen carried out in Pakistan. Since then there has been a universal outpouring quite rightly of emotions and sympathy for her. One conveniently forgets that there are others facing and experincing similar fate in pakistan. Malaala has become a celebre cause all over the world. She has given speeches in UN. A UN day has been declared in her honour. President Obama has met her and the Queen has invited her. The EU has rewarded her. The nobel peace committie has other criteria rather than media . Many people are nominated but their contributions are over many years (Pres. Obams being an exception) Mallaala,s time wil come but not yet.
    Why are the Taliban happy—-mind boggles but i suppose they are happy to avoid international condemnation which they richly deserve.
    What about the moslem countries. How many of them have honoured this young girl. Don't they have any awards to offer to such a brave girl? Or is there a conspiracy theory in action? What has Pakistan done other than photo opp. for the politicians. How about naming a university in her honour? generations of young girls wil be happy.
    Finally a former PM of Norway who is now running a peace centre in Oslo did invite Malaala to visit Oslo but she did not hoping to visit fro the ultimate prize. He travelled over to Birmingham to give her a award.
    Malalaa you yourself said that you did not deserve the prize. I agree not yet but surely your time will come. Your decency,courage, diginity under trying circumstances will be rewarded.

    • I am delighted to read the comment appreciating Malala's "decency, courage (and) dignity under trying circumstances —" My heart was filled with admiration, when I watched her leading cheerful slogan on Swat Valley, her speech at the UN and her interview with Andrew Marr. The young daughter of Pakistan is undoubtedly special and deserves recognition – not necessarily just the Nobel prize. More than anything, all discerning people, not just those from the subcontinent, should stand up and take notice of her passionate views and assist her in her cause to promote education of girls. I can only pity those who see anything other than sincerity in her speech, arising from strength of her convictions and fire in her belly.

  4. What did the west pay you to be so belittling towards pakistan and the Pakistani nation. If I would have been near you I would have spit on your face. Your writing is so demeaning towards a nation that has produced both men and women who have won international recognition on account of their intelligence. No Pakistani suffers from jealousy but we are hurt on the remarks made by a child who has no knowledge of how she is being exploited against her own nation. Where did she learn all this courage certainly not from western soil. You seem to hold a big grudge against Pakistan and its nation did you get jilted by a Pakistani ? And if we are not the center of attention why are we mentioned in every speech of the western heads and not the hundred other countries? I just wish you would show more maturity and dread people being exposed to your extreme emotional and unintelligent possession of the pen.

    • Om on nousheen writer is correct in her assessment. Can you think deep and look around you Is jealousy not a factor.

    • "if we are not the center of attention why are we mentioned in every speech of the western heads and not the hundred other countries?"

      my dear, if pakistan is being mentioned in every speech by the head of western countries it is because they see pakistan as the country most supportive of terrorism… this is not a good thing. Just because pakistan is being mentioned doesn't mean it is good or for positive reasons.

  5. Agreed with the writer who has very ably portrayed the psychology of Pakistanis. It is no doubt a revolt against terrorism and illitracy of specially women folk in the remot areas of Pakistan.

  6. I don't watch droomas as they call them here but what we have is a 16 years old kid who won't get much time to study.

  7. The article is written with a narrow approach of a secular mind…which is biased and negatively portrayed of a nation with rich history…Criticizing a girl should not lead to negativity of a nation…let it be independence of speech….please defend her cause inspite of raising fingers on others…Malala was already famous but y to blame and disgrace her country just for fame…her mother is an illiterate and she thinks of all the women to be like that….Please see the contribution of women in our history and their achievements…and also get the details of all NOBEL AWARD winners for piece …..they all performed attrocities and most of the nation never wanted Malala to be standing in that line…

  8. If Malala is sponsored by the U.S. then why don't the people who believe this say anything about the Talib who shot her? Wouldn't he also have to be part of the drama? Wouldn't that mean he was also sponsored by the U.S.? But the Taliban have ADMITTED they tried to kill her! So why don't they believe the Taliban if they don't believe the U.S.?

    Even when it is Pakistanis bombing schools they still blame the U.S.! Point that out to them and they will say those Pakistanis are supported by the U.S.! So the Taliban is supported by the U.S. AND Malala is supported by the U.S.?!?!

  9. U know after going through the article, trying to enlist the reasons i dont buy into the malala thingie, my mind points to a reference in a very popular film ,the matrix, where the creator explains the function of the oracle and describes him as just another control in the system…somehow this seems reminiscent..malala gets shot, has the entire nation with her..loves Pakistan and its ppl and then takes asylum in UK…i mean why…bravery must be in comjng back…maybe not in swat but in Islamabad, Lahore or any other place that the brave knight of Pakistan feels secure in ….alas…just another scam to defame Pakistan and control the emotions of Pakistani Ppl…

  10. Excellent summary!
    We are a nation of hypocrats and in addition have developed a tendency to develop a false sense of superiority! A nation selfish nation that lacks courage and one that is morally corrupt…..all the way from the streets to the parliaments… i guess what puzzle us is how come such a brave person can be born in the land of pure…..

  11. y my comments were deleted ???????????????????????? not a single word i used was below dignity but ……………….. truth iz dat u cannt stand the difference of opinion…………………………or i cn say that ur hiding the truth…………………

  12. Very well written. You have concluded this so well. This whole scenario has only brought many ugly truths about us Pakistanis in the front. Thank you for writing this.

  13. Ok I will not remain silent.
    Malala Yousafzai is obviously an Illuminati (the Group of Dajjal/Antichrist) Puppet and she works for the Illuminati i.e. just like Barrack Obama,Lady Gaga,Eminem,etc.Its an Illuminati conspiracy to destroy Pakistan.
    Why West is promoting a schoolgirl who supports education? She is not the only girl in the world who supports education after pain,the one example is Somaly Mam,and there are thousands of Malala Yousafzai in Swat valley.
    Malala Yousafzai is an Illuminati puppet and she is not good for the future of Pakistan.
    May God protect us from the fitna of Illuminati and their leader Dajjal,who is very near to appear.Ameen.

  14. Great. You have spoken the truth. It hurts some Pakistanis who are suffering from mental fog and just cann't differentiate good from Evil. They have been fed conspiracy theories from childhood, this the only food our politicians have fed them.

    Pakistani Mullah and Extremists are real Fitna, "Deen-e-Mullah Fi Sabeel-Illah Fasad".

    May Allah Bless You !

  15. @Munawar
    Dear brother you are right Mullahs and extremists like Taliban are also fitnas and they are also working for the Illuminati just like Malala Yousafzai.

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