Malala's homecoming

Malala Yousafzai is by far the youngest Nobel Prize winner in history. She stands as an unwavering example around the world for her brave resolve to fight for what she believes. Yet why is that she is despised by most in Pakistan, in her own native country?

In our country, instead of evidence, unfortunately public sentiments are guided by conspiracy theories, the rants of our conservative majority on social media and our right-wing news anchors that crowd the airwaves.

Public outrage against Malala began to grow since she started to receive the Western accolades for displaying this courage to speak against Taliban, who still drives sympathies among a shocking number of Pakistanis. Right-wing commentators and conservatives in the urban middle class claim she is an agent of the West.

Through no fault of her own, Malala is often blamed for revealing to the world how powerful the TTP was in certain areas of Pakistan. In a statement released after her shooting, a Taliban spokesman singled out Malala’s crime not as the desire for education, but as spreading propaganda. The diary series she reportedly dictated over the phone to a BBC reporter made her famous abroad, and a target at home. That’s a national affront! How could she!

As she became more prominent and had contact with world leaders, including President Barack Obama, some in Pakistan asked why she even meets with those responsible for drone attacks.

They, of course, overlooked the fact that when Malala met Obama in the White House, she challenged U.S. drone policy. ‘Drones fuel terrorism,’ she told the president face to face. This was a public statement that even the most seasoned Pakistani politicians have not had the courage to make when they visited the White House. But her privileged status in the West confuses her legitimacy at home.

In a time, when the word 'Pakistan' is considered, around the world, synonym to 'terrorists,' 'corruption,' and 'illegal immigration,' we have too few heroes and heroines, to not hold on to Malala for our love of conspiracy theories.

1750 hours
Saturday 31 March 2018