News / Asia

Taliban Attack Survivor Malala Resented in Pakistan Hometown

Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai poses during a photo opportunity before speaking at an event in New York, Oct.10, 2013.
Pakistan's Malala Yousafzai poses during a photo opportunity before speaking at an event in New York, Oct.10, 2013.
Reuters
For many of her compatriots, Malala Yousafzai is a stooge of the United States and a CIA agent, a symbol of the West's evils and a global conspiracy to bring down her native Pakistan.
 
She has won the European Union's prestigious human rights award and was one of the favorites to win the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, but in her native Swat valley, friends and neighbors reacted with a mixture of resentment, fear and jealousy.
 
“Malala is spoiling Pakistan's name around the world,” said  Mohammad Rizwan, a shop owner in her hometown of Mingora. “We didn't need Malala to come and tell us how important education is.”
 
Around the corner from his shop is the quiet street where Malala, 16, was shot a year ago after trying to defy the Taliban with her outspoken views on women's right to education.
 
She survived after being airlifted to Britain for treatment and has since become a symbol of defiance against militants holed up in nearby tribal areas on the Afghan border.
 
But in this deeply conservative part of Pakistan, where women are expected to stay at home and keep their views to themselves, many people view Malala's campaign with suspicion.
 
In a nation thriving on conspiracy theories, some have even doubted the sincerity of her campaign, claiming it is part of her family's ploy to move to Britain or that she is just an attention seeker.
 
Social media sites are brimming with insulting messages. “We hate Malala Yousafzai, a CIA agent,” says one Facebook page.
 
“Here, people have been unkind to her. They want to forget her. They think she is a drama queen. But what can you do?” said Ahmad Shah, a childhood friend of Malala's father who helped write her speech at the United Nations this year.
 
“Here in Swat, we have seen the hell that is Taliban rule. And yet, some people still say they would much rather side with the Taliban than Malala. Sometimes people never learn.”
 
In an impoverished region where violence is part of daily life, some of Malala's neighbors were simply afraid. Some appeared keen to forget about her and move on.
 
The picturesque valley was overran by the Taliban, who imposed strict Islamic laws and kept its people in fear, in 2007. It is now controlled by the Pakistani army. Mingora, a dusty town of windy roads surrounded by jagged hills, is festooned with billboards reading “Long live the Pakistan Army!”
 
There were no posters of Malala.
 
“Malala is a talented girl, no doubt,” said Zahid Khan, head of the Swat Peace Jirga, an anti-Taliban body who has survived three attempts on his life for his work.
 
“I have been attacked. Shot. Almost killed. But no one is honoring me. The state hasn't given me a cent in compensation.”
 
The Taliban have issued repeated threats to kill her.
 
“She says she does not want to live like an illiterate person in a walled compound and deliver children,” said Shahidullah Shahid, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman.
 
“Her mother and grandmother used to live in walled compounds and deliver children, so by saying that she didn't even spare her mother.”
 
At Khushal Public School, a three-story building where she studied, many avoided mentioning her name altogether.
 
A red and yellow school bus parked outside its metal gate was the same as the one in which Malala was shot on Oct. 9, 2012. In her classroom, her old seat was still empty. Someone had placed a schoolbag there to mark her presence.
 
But there were no events held to mark the first anniversary of her shooting.
 
“We want the girls to forget the trauma of that day,” said Nargis Bibi, a school administrator. “We want them to forget it. We don't want them to relive it again. We all want to move on.”
 
Quratulain Ali, Malala's friend, said quietly: “We are all very happy in our hearts [that she was nominated to win the Nobel Peace Prize] but we don't often speak about it openly. There could be danger for us also.”
 
The award went to the Hague-based Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which is overseeing the destruction's of Syria's arsenal.

You May Like

US Investors Eye IPO for China's Alibaba

E-commerce giant handled 80 percent of China's online business last year, logging more Internet transactions than US-based Amazon.com and eBay combined More

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

As cease-fire begins, Palestinians celebrate in streets; Israelis remain wary More

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

In treatment of a 12-year-old boy Chinese doctors used a 3-D printer and special software to create an exact replica of vertebra More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implanti
X
August 27, 2014 4:53 PM
A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. VOA News reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Northern California Quake: No Way to Know When Next One Will Hit

A magnitude 6.0 earthquake rocked northern California’s Napa Valley on Sunday. Roads twisted and water mains burst. It was the wine country’s most severe quake in 15 years, and while hospitals treated many people, no one was killed. Arash Arabasadi has more from Washington on what the future may hold for those residents living on a fault line.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ukraine: Captured Troops Proof of Russian Role in Separatist Fight

Ukrainian officials say they have captured Russian soldiers on Ukrainian territory -- the latest accusation of Moscow's involvement in the conflict in eastern Ukraine. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the Ukrainian side of the battle, where soldiers are convinced of Russia's role.
Video

Video Rubber May Soon Come From Dandelions

Synthetic rubber has been around for more than a century, but quality tires for cars, trucks and aircraft still need up to 40 percent or more natural rubber content. As the source of natural rubber, the rubber tree, is prone to disease and can be affected by bad weather. So scientists are looking for replacements. And as VOA’s George Putic reports, they may have found one in a ubiquitous weed.
Video

Video Jewish Life in Argentina Reflected in Yiddish Tango

Jewish people from across Europe and Russia have been immigrating to Argentina for hundreds of years. They brought with them dance music that were eventually mixed with Argentine tango. The result is Yiddish tango -- a fusion of melodies and cultural experiences that is still evolving today. Elizabeth Lee reports from the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, where one band is bringing Yiddish tango to an American audience.

AppleAndroid