Why Malala is not a western puppet

Published: July 7, 2014

Malala has become an ambassador of Pakistan for goodwill and she is promoting her nation wherever she goes. PHOTO: AFP

Malala has become an ambassador of Pakistan for goodwill and she is promoting her nation wherever she goes. PHOTO: AFP Malala Yousafzai speaks next to Norway's Prime Minister Erna Solberg (R), outside the prime minister's residence in Oslo June 14, 2014. PHOTO: REUTERS

I have always heard about how summer days and winter nights are exceptionally long in Norway. However, it was not until I visited the Scandinavian country myself that I understood the magnitude of their duration. A beautiful country on the whole, the drastic differences in the lengths of its days, as compared to Pakistan, took me a while to adjust myself over there.

I was invited by the 14 August Committee to visit Oslo and meet Malala Yousafzai, who was also visiting the city at the time. When we reached the Oslo international airport, the other committee members and I were told to wait for Malala and her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who were going to meet us there and discuss the itinerary of our visit. After a while, Malala arrived with her father and cordialities were exchanged. We discussed the schedule ahead of us briefly and soon we were on our way to our first programme.

While travelling via Norway’s well-planned roads, I couldn’t help but feel astonished. For a person like myself, who has spent a major part of his life covering militancy in war-torn areas of Pakistan, the well-maintained law and order situation in the city made me pleasantly surprised. Everything seemed to be very much in order; so much so that even their prime minister travelled around the city unaccompanied by any security protocol.

After meeting the Norwegian prince, we went on to attend a seminar called ‘Leadership with Purpose’ organised by the committee where Malala was one of the speakers. During her speech, she stressed on the importance of education and harnessing leadership skills for young girls everywhere and discussed the issues women were facing in Pakistan. The way she spoke with foreign journalists and answered their questions was truly commendable for a girl her age.

The Red Cross in Norway also arranged a programme to highlight Malala’s struggle for education where she received an award for her bravery and courage. All this made me wonder how she was managing to accomplish so much at such an age.

I don’t understand why Malala never received the same level of admiration and motivation from her own people in Pakistan. In the West, she is treated like a public figure and people stumble upon one another just to get an autograph from her. Yet, in Pakistan, we have labelled her as a western puppet supposedly spreading propaganda against our land. While travelling with her, I realised Malala’s merit.

She also met Prime Minister Erna Solberg and discussed the dismal condition of education in Swat. She spoke about the schools that were damaged in the 2005 earthquake and how they still haven’t been reconstructed. She also touched upon issues pertaining to militancy in the area, which was also responsible for destroying and damaging many schools, especially those meant for young girls.

She told the prime minister that though Norway has supported Pakistan in the past, it was imperative that they continue to support her country in future so that new schools can be built for the youth in terrorism-struck areas. She discussed how the problem of female education was a global one as young girls are facing this issue in almost every developing country, be it Syria, Nigeria or Kenya. She spoke about how it was important for developed countries such as Norway to assist them in this crisis.

During her discussions with different government officials in Oslo, she talked about how she wanted to be part of initiatives such as ‘Taleem Sub Kay Liye ’(Education for all), which are working towards fundamentally changing the face of the education sector in Pakistan.

In her meetings, she frequently mentioned Pakistan and talked about how the problems of her countries were her own. As she phrased it,

Mera Swat aur mera Pakistan”

(My Swat and my Pakistan)

What I have gathered from my short visit is that Malala is no longer the victimised girl from 2012. She has now become a confident, intellectual and progressive woman who is willing to invest everything she’s got to increase the cause of education in Pakistan. I could see an individual who was genuinely working for the betterment of her country. She has become an ambassador of Pakistan for goodwill and she is promoting her nation wherever she goes.

If, even after understanding that all Malala really stands for is female education, there are people in Pakistan who doubt her motives, then there is nothing much that can be said to them. They should just understand that while they sit in their homes and criticise whatever good is happening in Pakistan, people like Malala are out there, working to make a difference.

If a young girl like Malala can achieve such feats, why can’t we?

This is something we all should ponder upon.

Sherin Zada

Sherin Zada

He works as a reporter with Express News from Swat.

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

  • Abdulrauf Akhtar

    She was picked to bash Pakistan , humiliate Pakistan . It was a western propaganda tool against Pakistan . She may get respect from west not from Pakistan !Recommend

  • http://www.mmabbasi.com/ Mohammed Abbasi

    Fantastic piece, may we have more Malalas and less Mullahs in Pakistan – the only way Pakistan can succeedRecommend

  • politically correct

    Sir, just tell me one thing. Why does her father tail her everywhere? They say a puppet always has a puppeteer.
    Instead of making her a poster child, we should let her conclude her education. Wasn’t that her own dream, due to which she was even shot at?Recommend

  • unbelievable

    I agree that Malala isn’t a Western puppet – but she is a glaring example of Pakistan’s poor record on terrorism and women’s rights/education. It’s obvious that many find that disturbing and it’s apparently easier to shoot the messenger than fix the problem.Recommend

  • knightridrr

    What she stands for is incredible for the girl of her age.Recommend

  • Imran

    Excellent article Recommend

  • http://nazarbaaz.blogspot.com/ 2#

    I still remember when before Taliban shot Malala, she was interviewed and said “I want to become a politician”. Later on, Taliban shot her because of her stories, that she was asked to write. If you read that diary, you can easily understand the groundless horror development.
    Pakistan will give the her same respect only if she is accepted by the nation which is not likely to be possible because of the content of her speeches. Praising Gandhi and taking his name before Jinnah, Praising Jesus and taking His name before our Beloved Prophet ((PBUP) … Praising Bacha khan more than Jinnah… just tell me how can she be respected when she does not take care of the basic definitions of our society.

    If an acceptance is needed for her, the I would suggest, she needs to talk what Pakistani nation is going through, and not just focus on the out dated information, she is preaching with.

    If nothing works, then it may take at least 15 years, until the generation of her age, becomes able to vote.Recommend

  • Grace

    No one disputes the importance of women’s rights, girls education and and health care for all. It is unfair to say she doesn’t have the respect and admiration of Pakistani women for her efforts on behalf of Pakistani women. We all admire Malala for her stance against extremists the same way we support all brave Pakistani women. The majority of Pakistanis support her when she speaks of women’s rights but many of us fear she has only become a one woman business for her father. Unfortunately, her father has undermined her as a person of standing and this too is questioned in the West by the very Western journalists who first discovered her. They revealed that her every thought, word and actions are controlled by her father. After reading her book, I got the distinct impression that it was in fact written by her father and an English ghost writer – it did not convey much of what a Swati girl would feel and say.She remains fashionable in Western media circles for reasons which are understandable enough because they want to look like they care about the plight of women in poor countries. Pakistanis are realistic enough to know about the workings of her father and family in the Malala world tours. So you know, I am from KPK but I also have family in Swat.Recommend

  • Talha Rizvi

    Long live Malala The true daughter of nation. She is the true heroine not a woman who abandoned her husband to go fight in some distant land.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    we all know that Malala is a western puppet, Dr. A.Q Khan is not a thief and a fraud, polio vaccines cause infertility, there was no rigging in elections, Pakistan is the best Islamic country in the world and the aliens from planet blahblah have been living among us for 10 centuries.
    why do people dispute these truths is beyond me.Recommend

  • Queen

    So do you think just because Malala is now living in the West, she should be allowed to wander on her own without her parents’ supervision? Malala is Pakistani and in our society, girls usually go out accompanied by their brothers, fathers, or other elders. I don’t think it is right to consider it a case of ‘Puppet’ and ‘puppeteer’ as you have put it. Malala is under her parents’ supervision like any girl of her age should be; be it in Pakistan or in the West. As for her education, Malala is receiving her education in UK which means that she is on her way to fulfill her dreams. Instead of criticizing, we should support everyone, be it a girl or boy, in their struggle to fulfill their aspirations.Recommend

  • Hina Razak

    “If a young girl like Malala can achieve such feats, why can’t we?”
    You mean if she can narrowly miss death by surviving a bullet, why can’t we? Because that’s all she did. You spending an afternoon with her does not change anything.Recommend

  • Lalit

    how right was Malala, is being proved by the ongoing military operation by your beloved Army.her ”horror stories” were only the tip of the iceberg.slitting the necks of of FC personnel was not drama.exploding Pakistan Army convoys were not a hallucination.Talibans are not social workers.there is a limit to obfuscation.
    you have the gall to support her shooting by these gentlemen only because you don’t like her not praising Talibans for their compassion. by that coin you must declare a Jihad against Pak Army as they are involved in an actual war against these innocent fellows from the mountains.
    praising all the personalities you have mentioned is characteristic of a functioning and sane mind…..shooting a teen point black for doing so or supporting such act is just the opposite.and you call yourself educated…Recommend

  • Lalit

    shot for having a dream….Kudos..you can’t be more incorrect.Recommend

  • http://nazarbaaz.blogspot.com/ 2#

    Either you need to read my comment a couple of times again or most probably, and yes evidently, you dont have clear understanding how we think and take all personalities I mentioned.

    We support Pak army but for Malala, you need to understand more than what you think.Recommend

  • http://nazarbaaz.blogspot.com/ 2#

    Hey, can you tell me in which grade, she is now? You can google it, I dont have time to waste pleaseRecommend

  • Oats

    The author has yet to learn that things are not black and white but grey. Malala is fighting for a good cause but she is also being manipulated on many levels. If you can’t see that, you need to spend a few more years as a journalist! Your fawning over roads in a developed country only tells me you don’t travel much.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    does your father never go to any ceremony where you give speeches?
    oh wait,,,you dont give any speeches in the UN, you dont meet the Queen , you dont campaign for human rights……you just sit at home.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    She is a little girl, an innocent girl not even out of her teens, she should have been playing with her friends and enjoying her childhood, rather she got shot in the head by Taliban. Simple as that.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    ofc, she is being manipulated………….by the aliens from planet blah blah.
    for if you want to change the course of politics in PAkistan you just pay the right guys. This is Pakistan, everything is for sale and no western nation needs to manipulate Malala to get what they want in PAkistan.Recommend

  • Parvez

    We in Pakistan are simply ungrateful people, we do not deserve a Malala …….and yet she does not give up on her country …….that is what makes her special.Recommend

  • Gullalay

    As many people have written here before me, she may have good intentions but she is certainly not an Ambassador of goodwill for Pakistan. She has used that incident and the many before that to her own advantage. She has not done anything spectacular. She got shot and survived (so did the other two girls). Her father and family are now using that incident for their own advantage. Stop promoting her. SHe is a POSTER child for western propagandaRecommend

  • Gul bano

    You are absolutely right! I am sick of hearing this Malala drama. Its great news for her and her family but she has done nothing for the country neither should she ever come back.Recommend

  • sterry

    You can’t tell the difference between having a parent supervise you in your personal life and having an overbearing father manipulate you? Why doesn’t Malala ask her mother? Malala does not have a monopoly on advocating for rights but her father has carefully crafted this in his plan to make money and sell books to gullible foreigners.Recommend

  • Queen

    It should be noted that Malala’s mother is seen accompanying her daughter on all occasions including Malala’s speech in the UN Assembly, and at the opening ceremony of the Birmingham library. Malala has not ‘monopolized’ anything; she has rather become a symbol of courage against all forms of oppression. It is incorrect to say that ‘Foreigners’ are ‘gullible’ because they support a thing after doing thorough research. Malala is being respected all over the world because she stood up for her basic right to education.Recommend

  • Fida Hameed

    Well , thats Pretty simple.
    First , No One hates the Physical Malala. But Every One (Patriots) hates the Malala conspiracy.
    Malala has been made a part of it ! and Malala and his Family was more biased to be Part of it to earn cheap Stardom. Special her father.
    Hamid Mir has started all this and you know he is a Man of notorious nature.
    we hate this because we are affectess of it and all other conspiracies they made against us . HAQQANI/ Mukhtara /Malala etc , So how can we start liking the peoples who are friends with our conspirators.
    Secondly :
    The west has made her start. hahah.
    I don’t know how people start writing while knowing noting.
    Obviously the west thinks different than us. If we start thinking like them that would be disastrous for us , for our Religion and for our values. and Lets say we compromised everything but religion , On No cost.
    Please whenever you see something Look into deeper and then come up with the truthful things not with things you like.
    May Allah Guide use All :) AmeenRecommend

  • asad

    if malala had said my west and my america than she could be considered a western puppet…. right…Recommend

  • chillipepper

    malala a melo drama queen.. she is invested by foreigners and definitely they would demand a heavy profit from her one day,,, that’s the law in business, ppl invest to gain profit :p she is a puppet, why aren’t they developing some deprived area of Pakistan and investing on a girl?
    ofc media and NGO’s have the power to easily turn black into white ,,,that’s how it is done ,,,Recommend

  • Lalit

    you seem to have plenty of time at your disposal for posting ideas which had currency in Medieval period.and how does this query of yours has anything to do with what people think about Malala ?Recommend

  • http://nazarbaaz.blogspot.com nazarbaaz

    strange that all the Lalits are against me… hmmm I need to rethink.

    That show even you dont know if shes continuing her education or not haha.. simpleRecommend

  • ibn

    Malala (PAKISTAN) – Salman Rushdi (INDIA) and Taslima Nasrin (Bangladesh)

    You should now understand. Who she is!Recommend

  • Abdulrauf Akhtar


  • El Cid

    She is the Demon Seed planted in the Garden of Islam to poison it from the inside.Recommend