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Pakistanis Ambivalent About Malala Yousafzai

While we’re still waiting for the Norwegian Nobel Committee to announce the Peace Prize tomorrow, people everywhere—including a choked up Jon Stewart—are rooting for Malala Yousufzai, a 16 year old from the mountains of Pakistan who was shot by the Taliban for promoting girls’ education.

People are rooting for her everywhere, that is, except Pakistan.

There the mood has at best been ambivalence, and at worst suspicion or hostility, ever since she was taken to the UK for emergency medical attention. Some Pakistanis have expressed skepticism of elements of the narrative of her miraculous recovery, proffering the suggestion that she is a Western agent. A mainstream religious party leader, Samiul Haq, has said that Malala has been “hijacked” by the West and is being used against Muslims. Online Pakistani forums about with allegations that she is a Western stooge or agent. The words “drama queen” have been mooted, with many saying she should win an Oscar rather than a Nobel.

This is indicative of the confusion in Pakistani society over who the enemy is. Many sections of Pakistani society are skeptical that the Taliban and al-Qaeda even exist; they believe that the West, in collusion with India, is out to destroy Pakistan. Malala’s ordeal is one of those incidences that Pakistanis are either forced to accept as real, or to reject as just another conspiracy in a long line that includes Diana’s death, 9/11, and the War on Terror.

It is a shame that a 16 year old has shown greater resolve against the terrorist threat to Pakistan and the world than all of Pakistan’s politicians combined.

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  • USNK2

    Malala did not win the Nobel Peace Prize this year, 2013, but the daughter of Benazir Bhutto just tweeted she wants Malala as her future Prime Minister.
    Some of the ambivalence inside Pakistan probably is because the Yousefzais embrace a Sufi overlay to Sunni Islam, and believe in universal education.

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