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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Algerians Vote in Presidential Election

There were few media reports of protests and clashes around the country, but so far no significant violence More

Sharks More Evolved than Previously Thought

The discovery could “profoundly affect our understanding of evolutionary history” More

Pakistan Military Asked to Protect Polio Workers

Request comes as authorities say a Taliban ban on vaccinations in 2012 and deadly attacks on anti-polio teams have prevented thousands of children from getting inoculated More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid