What has Malala done for Pakistan?: 8 popular anti-Malala arguments answered

Published: June 26, 2015

Malala Yousafzai appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the theatrical trailer for a new documentary, ‘He Named Me Malala’ was released.PHOTO: INSTAGRAM (THEDAILYSHOW)

Last week, Malala Yousafzai appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and the theatrical trailer for a new documentary, He Named Me Malala was released. As always her appearance on the show led to universal support and acclaim. As always it also attracted massive amounts of vitriol from people in Pakistan.

I have been subjected to copious amounts of hate messages personally for posting messages supporting Malala on my Facebook page. I made an earnest effort to engage with all the Malala haters but none of their arguments held any weight.

I have compiled the eight most popular arguments made by people who dislike Malala and I wish to address why none of them hold much logic.

1. Why just Malala?

By far the most popular sentiment against supporting Malala is based on the opinion that she gets an undeserved amount of attention from the West. As per the masses,

“Hundreds of children die every day in Pakistan, why do they not appear on television shows?”

Malala is much more than simply the girl called Malala Yousafzai. She has become a global symbol for all those children, and many more around the world. Thousands of people died during the partition of Pakistan, why are all their names not plastered over our currency? It is because Quaid-e-Azam symbolises all their sacrifices. When a person becomes a symbol for a cause, the symbol is always greater than the life of the person itself.

A lot of people suffered a lot more than Martin Luther King during the Black civil rights movement in America but he has now become a symbol for non-violent protest around the world. What Martin Lurther did, or did not do, during his lifetime becomes irrelevant. For the world, he is a symbol, and every time his image is reproduced it represents non-violence, not the life of the man.

Malala is now a global symbol for children’s education, not just children in Pakistan. We should be proud that she is a Pakistani. The ‘I am Malala’ campaign does not refer to Malala the person but includes every single girl fighting for their right to education around the world. The hundreds of children in Pakistan may not be able to logistically appear on television shows but Malala speaks for and represents every single one of them.

2. Why Malala?

The naysayers and conspiracy theories then question why Malala was specifically chosen to be the symbol. If Malala was not a Pakistani, I am convinced most of Pakistan would have adored her just like the rest of the world.

Malala was thrown into the global limelight after the shooting but she was already a well-known activist and advocate for the right to education by then. In fact, she was specifically targeted because she was speaking out against the Taliban. Two other girls were also sadly injured during the attack, which is a travesty but the Taliban were not targeting those girls. Malala has been blogging against the Taliban since she was 11. By 2009, she had also started appearing publicly to fight for the right of girls to go to school. Long before the Noble Peace Prize, she was the proud recipient of the National Youth Peace Prize in Pakistan on December 19, 2011.

Hundreds of children have sadly suffered in our war against the Taliban but few of them made a conscious effort to take a stand against the Taliban, Malala did. She was fearless against all the threats on her life.

3. The assassination attempt is a hoax

The official account of her getting shot by the Taliban is accepted by the state of Pakistan, the military establishment and all credible news agencies around the world. It is also worth noting that after getting shot, Malala was shifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Peshawar and the ISPR released a statement about her medical tests at CMH. If you believe every single institution in Pakistan, and around the world, is lying and is part of a global conspiracy, then there is little I can say to convince you otherwise

If the doctors who operated on her have testified about the bullet wound and other surgeons around the world have not questioned their narrative, what expertise do people on Facebook possess that they can decide for themselves she was not shot based on simply looking at her face?

After the APS tragedy, every single person who claimed the Taliban would never shoot a child should have a serious look at themselves in the mirror.

4. The shooting incident is highlighted because it paints Pakistan in a negative light

It was hoped that after the worst tragedy this nation has suffered in its history on December 16th last year that the narrative of the nation would change. Unfortunately, we might have changed how we phrase the problem but our core sentiments about it remain the same. We have problems that we continue not to acknowledge. It is always problematic to hypothesise but it is possible that had the nation heeded Malala’s warnings early on and changed our policies against the terrorists, the military operations against them would have begun much earlier and they would not have had the capacity to carry out many massacres that we have suffered from since.

The world has been reporting against the Taliban regardless of Malala. She is actually one of the only positive things about Pakistan for most westerners. She is the counter-narrative against the idea that everybody in Pakistan is a terrorist. She is the softer image of Pakistan for the world that we have been struggling to achieve. She is a God-send for the country.

Nobody has highlighted the Taliban issue more on the global stage than the state of Pakistan and the military establishment of Pakistan. Our wars against terrorism are the reason we are being funded and receiving massive amounts of military aid from the world. There is now no difference between the public position of our army and the position Malala took years ago against the terrorists.

5. Why are the APS shaheed not equally highlighted by the world?

The brave Shaheed of the APS tragedy did not go to school that fateful morning as an act of defiance against terrorism. The absolute travesty that followed is a failure of us as a nation, the little angels suffered due to no fault of their own. It is extremely unfair to compare them to Malala; her heart was equally broken that morning as the entire nation wept.

All the people who think the Malala incident misrepresents Pakistan by suggesting all school-going girls get shot in Pakistan should logically also be against the world highlighting the APS incident since it misrepresents Pakistan by suggesting all children who go to school in Pakistan get shot. The reality is that both these incidents do not completely represent Pakistan but both of them are grim realities that our nation may not want to accept but are forced to combat.

No single story can possibly represent a diverse country of over 200 million. Malala is as much a daughter of the nation as any child that we have lost in our fight against terrorism in the country. If there are more stories that you feel the world should know, what is stopping you from highlighting them for the world to see? Rather than criticising the world for what they are doing, why not do something yourself? You cannot berate anyone else for their choice of subject for their movies and documentaries. However, if you do disagree with them, you can go out and make your own movies and documentaries.

6. Malala is a CIA agent

Most people do not have issues with what she says but rather question her motivations and her she truly is. It is impossible for me to falsify all the conspiracy theories.

It is true that the CIA has done covert operations throughout the history of Pakistan but there has never been any evidence linking the CIA to MI6 to Malala. However, what possible influence or power can any intelligence agency exert on the Pakistan state from a teenage girl?

Malala and her entire family have suffered tremendously. It is no privilege to be forced into a defacto exile after living for years under a constant threat for your life. She is not living a life of luxury instead she is using the resources available to her to head a global initiative to promote education around the world.

7. Why does she not come back to Pakistan?

The sad reality is that most people who say this would take the opportunity to move abroad in a heartbeat. Unfortunately, the decision for Malala is not that straight forward. Pakistan is currently embroiled in a war against terrorism. There are terrorist outfits who still continue to threaten Malala’s life. She continues to speak about her longing to return and her love for Swat but no one can objectively think it is safe for Malala to return. There are mass protests against her in the country; it would take one crazy person to do something rash for her to lose her life. There has already been a failed assassination attempt on her life; she may not be that lucky the next time.

She is a teenage girl. Our love for our country should not force a young girl to die just to prove that she loves this country as much as all of us.

8. What has she done for Pakistan?

We are very territorial, even about philanthropy. We are not particularly moved to see Malala build schools for Syrian refugees or help Nigerian schoolgirls. All we are concerned about is her work in Pakistan. She does not need to be in Pakistan to continue to inspire thousands in the country. Even if we disregard all the positive work done by people inspired by Malala, the Malala Fund has used a $45,000 grant to build schools in Pakistan. All her work for girls’ education in Pakistan is not highlighted either due to security or political reasons.

If you do not listen to the maliciously motivated speakers against her, and actually read what she says or listen to her interviews, you will realise that she always talks about Pakistan in glowing terms and attempts to give a positive image of Pakistan for the world to see.

If we continue to disregard all of this, and believe in conspiracy theories, If you are secretly convinced that she is being groomed to come back to Pakistan 20 years later to destroy all of us, If you believe that she will marry Bilawal Bhutto and become the prime minister of Pakistan, then there is little I can say to convince you otherwise.

However, if you do have a rational reason to hate her, I would strongly recommend at least attempting to read and research the other side to see whether the argument against hating her holds any weight. If all reason and logic tells you otherwise but you continue to hate her simply because she is Malala, please show some compassion and give this young girl a chance.

Even if you do not believe her, believe in the message she is promoting and promote her as a symbol for that message. Every time you insult her, you insult our country and you demean the cause she is fighting for. Do not hate her because she seems too good to be true. I am a hopeless optimist, much like Malala, and I do believe in Malala. I hope after reading this, you will too.

shehzad.ghias

Shehzad Ghias

A graduate from the LUMS Law School and is running his own theatre production company, Cogito Productions.He works as a theatre teacher at various schools. He tweets @Shehzad89 (twitter.com/Shehzad89)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Pro Truth

    One of factor among others, of her projection, she and her father are blatantly anti Pakistan and celebrate Pakistan independence day as black day: source her book (written by her father and christina lamb)Recommend

  • Jayman

    What has Pakistan done for her?Recommend

  • Ridhs

    An immature document about Malala from Shehzad Ghias.. Firstly don’t compare Quaide Azam from Malala… She didn’t do as much our farther nation did for our country. Secondly there is in Pakistan so many youths whose are taking or talking against Taliban, kindly move around in other parts of pakistan I bet you that you for surely meet those youngsters who are doing many things for education not like your fav Malala who just sit in out of country and do babble about girl’s right of education. Thirdly APS students are the most bravest student than Malala because they did come back strongly even some of them children has lost his or her brother/sister/teacher not like your Malala who doesn’t ready to come in Pakistan just because of threatening. Fourthly Nobody has highlighted the Taliban issue more on the global stage than the state of Pakistan and the military establishment of Pakistan, are you kidding Recommend

  • Richard Bond

    Although the former royal family of Swat are now of limited means they have a non governmental non profit foundation Swat Relief Initiative based in Princeton, New Jersey an hour by car from New York City in the United States. They maintain a database which is a clearing house of information on schools and clinics founded by the family and donors who are interested in making donations. They work more closely on site with a limited number of such schools and clinics near Saidhu Sharif. If you are part of a group working to maintain a school or clinic in Swat, Shangla or Buner and would desire assistance please contact the foundation. They maintain arms length communication with Malala and the Malala Fund and have no official affiliation. They also are in communication with madrasas who they encourage to add secular reading, writing and arithmetic daily afterwards to their religious instruction. The SRI’s chief shared education effort currently is encouraging more intensive use of schools both public schools and madrasas with more students and more courses within existing school buildings. http://www.swatreliefinitiative.orgRecommend

  • Malik

    You’ve missed the most important point, West portrays Pakistan the whole Pakistan as a pro religious extremist or extremists themselves, Hence they took Malala as a symbol of their own narrative and somehow tried to convince their own masses that their war in Afghanistan was justified. I being a strong opponent of extremism reject the whole Idea of bombing the extremists, Instead I believe the people must be given the benefit of illiteracy and miserable conditions they’ve been kept in and bomb them with books, The fact that more than a decade long war on terrorism failed not because Pakistanis didn’t support Malala , This Malala Episode came much later , the defeat in the Afghanistan was actually because US and allies spend trillions of $$$ to bomb people, If they’d spend half of this on human development and try to change the mindset the situation would’ve been different. You can’t suppress an illiterate ideologist by killing him, You might kill one but you’ll end up with producing 10 more in the aftermath. There were more or less 25000 Taliban and Alqaida people collectively whole world knows it was Al qaida the primary accused of 9/11. But within months the whole world was pronouncing Taliban, Taliban, and US lost the opportunity to win Taliban over to their side and sort it out within a short span of time. But once the whole use of force proved un fruitful theynot only engaged with Taliban in dialogue but also were looking for events to satisfy their people that their narrative was right, And Malala became an icon in those times. My question, was the US way of dealing with terrorism fruitful? Isn’t it CIA that recently revealed that they’ve been torching people in Guantanamo ? Isn’t it human that US is doing if we curse Taliban and Alqaida we equally curse US and west for messing around in here and leaving us in such complex terrorized situation, How come they came in Abbotabad and raided a compound killed Osama and Pak army had no idea of what had been gone on within our territories ? I’m not going to buy this that Pakistan army was harboring Osama so openly and they didn’t bother about his safety? and also newly released US journalist’s report had unveiled more facts that Abbotabad operation was for two reasons, 1 to assure Obama’s victory in elections followed by this incident, And US leaves with mission accomplished as Osama the key man was finally hunted down. Where the mission isn’t complete , we are in more danger than ever before. and our saying all this doesn’t make us pro extremists or anti US rather we are being misrepresented internationally , The greatest evidence to the fact that Pakistanis are enlightened modern people is that Pakistanis never opted for religious-political parties rather always voted for socialist parties.Recommend

  • Lolz

    Well, the question remains there, WHO chose her to be in the lime light? We all know the power of media around the world but we need to understand that at the end of the day media do serve the purpose of different states and I think the media of some states tried to highlight her more than others. For instance she was not highlighted by Russia, China and many other countries. Therefore, you need to understand that she should be celebrated in those countries which highlight her as a hero rather than imposing her on others.Recommend

  • Commentator

    Problem is not with Malala. The real problem is an inferiority complex ridden Pakistani mind set that finds it convenient to put every positive or negative event in the context of a wide Western-Hindu-Jewish conspiracy network. Why it so so?. Unfortunately 60+ years of independence has not yet removed centuries old memories of impotence against outside powers. It will take some time but eventually Pakistanis will grow up to understand, face and counter the complexities of the world as free adult people.Recommend

  • Shoaib Tauseef

    My point was always been what is written as question no 7 and I still think she has done nothing of such sort which makes her earn Nobel Peace prize by all means? Blogging is not raising a voice. Did she persuade girls of swat to not miss their school ? I never heard of any such efforts. n specially any one can raise his or her voice by taking refugee in a foreign country. She should have bring back and inspire other girls for education whatever she is doing after the attack would not be known by Swat girls because of their conservative culture n not been any access to Internet.Recommend

  • kaamAdmi

    Given her identity. Can you qoute an indiot girl as pompular? Recommend

  • Spogmai Shahab

    we often go through such discussions with friends and fellows about her and they all have “EXACTLY” the same qs as u have highlighted .. she is only pakistani female noble prize winner .. we should write books about her poems for her but as a NATION we are sick with a disease called HATING AND CRITICISING without knowing,,, beautiful article…. (Y) as a pakistani i want to thank you!Recommend

  • Parvez

    Kindly quote the page number from the book…….to substantiate your viewpoint.Recommend

  • seismann

    As if you have even opened the book! And so also the extremists who pollute your mind with lies and conspiracy theories.For you TTP,OBL,Mumtaz Qadris are heroes,the people who really are anti-Pakistan and anti-Humanity.You deserve them,and not her.Recommend

  • http://www.mianshahzadraza.com Mian Shahzad Raza

    well played but only blinds will accept these arguments.Recommend

  • Raghu Reddy

    We cant blame West here neither dismiss emotions of Pakistanis against Malala being used as a tool to defame Pakistan.Recommend

  • shiraz

    You are silly!!!Recommend

  • kaamAdmi

    She is the brightest, most intelligent, socially elevated, culturally polished, religiously enlightened, good natured, intellectually gifted, most humane and extremely courageous young lady from the noblest family of a very proud tribe. Will be youngest UN Secretary General very soon. And then…. what…like every other mortal human she will perish and the world will move on….please don’t make fuss over her fame ….shes just one of the many pranks on PakistanRecommend

  • Jagmohan Trivedi

    It is sad luck of Pakistan that Malala’s contribution for half of the human race
    continues to be declined.She is a great symboil of peace,sanity,dignity and a
    jewel in the crown of Pakistan.She fought alone as a teen ager what now the
    establishment is trying to fight and win.Alas people at large are still not able
    to understand her,whereas the world by and large decorated her with the
    most coveted honour of Noble prize.Her patriotism is at the top and comparable
    to any one,despite she is now looked as a global citizen.Long live and inspire.Recommend

  • https://www.facebook.com/ ather khan

    she is the symbol of defiance against terrorism. yet we continue to hate her. she should be the symbol of our nation as we are the worst victim of this terrorism menace.Recommend

  • AlChemist

    Malala is not just settled abroad and babbling about girls education, I hope you remember that she was the target of an assassination attempt. She was only taken abroad for treatment and there is a credible risk to her life, if she returns to Pakistan. There is no specific threat against a single student of APS but against Pak Army installations. Had there been any, that student would have left the country as well. Ghamidi did and Roomi as well. As far as the Taliban issue, the world outside Pakistan believes that Taliban are still manipulated by Pakistan. Yes this sounds ridiculous after thousands of Army men and police officers being killed by Taliban but the world believes that. This belief has been substantiated by many Pakistani analysts and journalists.Recommend

  • AlChemist

    and ignorants won’t. Those ignorants would eventually or have already ended up standing in a long line of visa seekers outside one of the embassies in Islamabad.Recommend

  • http://www.mianshahzadraza.com Mian Shahzad Raza

    LOL! what a joke, i am much happy in my beloved country. i will live and die here. everything i need for living is available here. :)Recommend

  • Parvez

    Sadly only the blind will mouth slogans without any logical counter argument ……Recommend

  • SamSal

    I have the book opened right in front of me. Please tell me the page number. I have read it twice and did not find any such thing!!Recommend

  • Samm

    I’d agree with what you mentioned above only if you could answere my questions; Talibans have been known as a sharp shooters, how can they have missed a target? How did she able to recover so quickly? If someone shot to head, he/she would barely survives.Recommend

  • Shahzad Ali

    My main issue with malala is a very basic one which the author has very conveniently ignored.

    Even in the trailer of her film she said if her parents were ordinary parents in Pakistan then she would have been the mother of two children by now. Also in her numerous other interviews she has painted Pakistan, not just Swat, but the entire country as a place not suitable and not a safe country especially for women and more so for young school going girls. Check out her numerous speeches and interviews where she has failed to differentiate between the northern troubled areas of Pakistan, where actually the problem does exist to a certain extent, and the rest of the country. My argument is that I am an ordinary parent of Pakistan including all my friends and relatives. Why is she speaking lies on our behalf?

    In my opinion what malala has done is brought more fame to herself than to her country. Recommend

  • http://www.mianshahzadraza.com Mian Shahzad Raza

    There is no logic in this whole post, its just a planned propaganda to prepare another female prime minister to impose on Pakistan. log time shot which surely blinds cannot see. on;y time will tell, save my comment :)Recommend

  • Khan Ji

    What has Pakistan done for her? A bullet in the head, plenty of garbage thrown at her, and all possible ways to defame her, and not to mention her deformed face.Recommend

  • Khan Ji

    You and your family must be an exception, Mr Shahzad. Why are girls married at an early age in Pakistan – even as early as 14 years of age? Why the literacy rate of women is lower than the males? Why women are generally not allowed to do jobs, exceptions hold? If Malala is pointing out an ugly truth of our society, why you have problems with that?
    Malala has brought more fame to herself as well as to her country.Recommend

  • Khan Ji

    LOL! Because you are NOT acceptable abroad. Yes, everything that you need is available here; corruption, terror, mismanagement, misgovern, and intolerance. That is a nice fool’s paradise you have found before hereafter.Recommend

  • Khan Ji

    Mr. Farsighted intellect,
    Do you have a problem with her being Prime Minister of Pakistan? Or do you have a problem with a female being PM of Pakistan?Recommend

  • guest

    We as a nation lack positivity and appreciation, so there is always hatred and criticism, and I guess, this is because of the mess our country is going through for all these years. We need to change ourselves to bring change in the country and should be proud of Malala.Recommend

  • Usman Arshad

    Oh. Can you tell me where she is living right now? (Country)Recommend

  • anomaly

    So your problem with Malala is that she lived?Recommend

  • anomaly

    You do realize that Malala is the only thing that paints a positive image of Pakistan for rest of the world? I don’t know how you got the idea that she’s defaming pakistan in any way when the truth is she’s adored by everyone and her being from pakistan, by default puts pakistan in a positive light. The people defaming pakistan are the pakistanis who continue to speak ill of a teenage girl.Recommend

  • anomaly

    WOW! Someone from your country got the nobel peace prize and you’re saying she shouldn’t have gotten it. Do you have something against Pakistan because you don’t come off as a very patriotic person. This teenage girl is making pakistan look good and then there’s you a self-hating pakistani

    Just wondering, when(if) Pakistan’s team wins the world cup do you sit there like, “meh they didn’t really do much to win that, it should be given to another country instead of pakistan?” Then do you go online and post about how Pakistan’s team didn’t deserve to win and the world cup should go to another country?Recommend

  • http://www.mianshahzadraza.com Mian Shahzad Raza

    I have problem with both options :)Recommend

  • Sane

    OK. Pakistan did nothing for her and she did nothing for Pakistan. The case is equal.Recommend

  • Shah

    Is it a lie if thats the Pakistan she experienced?Recommend

  • Shah

    Then the Taliban would never have failed attacks, would they?Recommend

  • Aatif

    Bro, Come to my house for iftari any time. Seriously, i’ll give u my address. I’ve been defending Malala against these frivolous narrow minded arguments for years. You have expressed my pov beautifully in this article. Thanks.Recommend

  • MUHAMMAD

    Noble PrizeRecommend

  • M

    Please don’t embarass Pakistanis by comparing malala to Quaid, no just no….Quaid was not merely symbolic, he dedicated his whole life to the country we call home. I think he deserves a little bit more credit don’t you think?? Malala has a long way to go before she can even come close…if ever that is. Anyways, I just want to say that she should definitely speak out about her “current” efforts for sawat, security risks are not a good excuse for not doing so when she’s not even living here to begin with. Riddle me this, how is campaigning against the kidnapping boko haraam, a terrorist organization, not putting her under threat? Besides speaking about her efforts is the only way to silence the hate she is facing in my opinion.Recommend

  • Humanoids

    Pro Truth I am sure you are an ardent fan of Orya Maqbool and Ansar AbbassiRecommend

  • Humanoids

    see you find it a conspiracy refer to #3.
    Taliban are sharp shooters? stop making sweeping statement!s!Recommend

  • Azmat Ali

    Unfortunately, what people of Pakistan seemingly are unable to understand that each field of struggle brings forth a representative that becomes the face of that struggle. It may be a small event or a large effort. Something clicks and that person is elevated to a pedestal that they may or may not deserve. What is also not understood by these very people is that working on a global scale, when opportunity allows, is far more preferred than working on a local scale. One more aspect that needs scrutiny is what does a person do once they have been placed on that elevated pedestal.
    In Malala’s case, she was probably one of the dozen or so such persons or individuals, of her age group, across Pakistan, who were struggling for the right of education. Her shooting by extremists, whoever they were, became the event that made her a representative of all those young people as well as all those in Pakistan who struggle and suffer for their struggles. Had she died, we would all have been proud of her and everyone would have believed that she was actually attacked.
    She is currently an unofficial ambassador of Pakistan, representing Pakistan in the best light possible, at platforms where we are rarely allowed to represent our country.
    What a shame for a country that they prefer their heroes dead, rather than alive.Recommend

  • Adamantium_786

    Do not listen to them their stuck in the 60′sRecommend

  • Anti Malala

    She gets un deserved attention + a noble prize?!!?!? for what? getting 1 bullet in the head which is also not confirmed… If there are people in Pakistan who feel sorry for her … I feel sorry for them ….

    “They dont understand – there are bigger problems, that are much more in demand – MJJ”Recommend

  • zafarov

    Why? Micro appendage?Recommend

  • Osman Siddiqi

    Great article! One thing missing here is how when she actively goes about promoting & financing girls education in the world, tells Obama himself that drone strikes create more terrorists, you know, stuff we obviously all do all the time with our Facebook posts – that when we rally against her – we are doing ourselves as a nation a huge disservice by indulging in being against her.

    The simple story is this: girl stood up against the Taliban, girl got shot in the head for Taliban, everyone empathizes with her situation except for Pakistan, everyone then thinks Pakistanis are crazy.

    Frankly if we expend all this energy hating on a teenager, we probably are a little crazy.

    Support her or ignore her. There is no sense in hating her because, if for no other reason, you’ll be damaging the country by doing so. So get off your high horse and move on.Recommend

  • Shirjeel

    i think if ppl just read the procedure of nomination of Noble Peace Prize then they will realize what kinda mistake they are doing, I will suggest you to add a lil bit piece of it as well for the realization of her achievements.Recommend

  • Nancy

    I totally agree with you! I have read the book and I remember no such rubbish thing written regarding celebrating Black Day and all! This is hilarious! Can’t believe it how people try to project their thoughts through fake references! And yeah her father didn’t write the book! It was written by Malala Yousafzai accompanied by Christina Lamb! Do not say things which aren’t even remotely true! Recommend

  • MJay

    They hate on her because it is so much easier to hate on a young girl.Recommend

  • Maria malik

    Much obliged to you such a great amount of this answers, this is such a great amount of supportive in my thesis.Recommend