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OpEdNews Op Eds    H4'ed 11/29/12

Manufacturing an anti-Taliban icon: Project Malala

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Just like opinion polls, Year End listing of prominent people in various fields by media is an effective propaganda tool to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist. Perhaps, this in mind, the Washington Post Company's agenda driven magazine, the Foreign Policy, has listed Malala Yousefzai, a 14-year-old student from Pakistan as the sixth among the 100 top Global Thinkers. Malala was attacked by the Taliban (as they claim) in Swat on October 9, 2012 and the Foreign Affairs magazine's listing came amid western-led efforts to nominate her for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize which has no relevance to peace as probably the Norwegian Nobel Committee has redefined "peace" in George Orwell's proverbial quote, "War is Peace." 

The Nobel Peace Prize 2012 was awarded to European Union (EU) for over six decades contribution "to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe." We should not forget that EU's military arm, NATO is currently involved in an aggressive war in Afghanistan, it bombed Libya in 2011 and at present one of its member Turkey is involved in supporting a civil war in Syria.

"First Al Gore, then Obama, now this. Parody is redundant," tweeted Daniel Hannan, a euroskeptic European lawmaker from Britain's Conservative Party. President Barack Obama won the peace prize in 2009, less than a year after he was elected, while Gore, a former U.S. vice president, was the 2007 recipient for his campaign against climate change. Nigel Farage, head of the U.K. Independence Party -- which wants Britain to withdraw from the union -- called the peace prize "an absolute disgrace." And Dutch populist lawmaker Geert Wilders scoffed: "Nobel prize for the EU. At a time (when) Brussels and all of Europe is collapsing in misery. What next?" [Christian Science Monitor -- October 12, 2012] 

Going back to Malala episode. The Foreign Affairs gives the following citation for Malala's sixth ranking among the top 100 Global Thinkers: "Malala, who was grievously wounded but miraculously survived, has fit a lifetime of activism into her few short years. When Islamist militants overran Malala's native Swat Valley in 2009, banning girls' education, she penned an anonymous blog for the BBC about the daily horrors of life under Taliban rule."

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It may be pointed out that Malala was only 11 years old when her diaries were published by the BBC under the pen name Gul Makai - a heroine of Pakhtun folktale. Many people are wondering how a girl of such age from a backward area like Swat can write political diaries. Apparently, the Gul Makai diaries which ran from January 3, 2009 for 10 weeks by BBC Urdu and English were written by Abdul Hai Kakar, a former BBC Urdu journalist from Peshawar. As Kakar told the Express News on October 12, he would have a conversation with Malala on the phone for 30 minutes every day, during which she would narrated to him what she saw, felt or heard that day.

Not surprisingly, attack on Malala Yusufzai, who was the main character of the US produced documentary Class Dismissed (2009), came two days after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf leader, Imran Khan, led an anti-drone march to Waziristan to draw the world's attention to the destruction and sufferings caused by the US drone attacks in Pakistan's tribal regions. Imran Khan, who is sometimes dubbed as Taliban Khan by his opponents, was perhaps right to tell the marchers in the town of Tank that he had succeeded in conveying the message to the world community, the job the government and other political parties failed to do.

Imran Khan's anti-drone march was joined by, among others, American and British peace activists. American delegation was led by Media Benjamin of CODEPINK who apologized to the people of Pakistan for their sufferings at the hands of the policies of the American leaders while speaking to the marchers.

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As the US-client Zardari government focused all its attention to mobilize the fiercely anti-American masses against the Taliban, the Spokesperson of the US State Department, Victoria Nuland said that the US is encouraged with popular opinion against extremism in Pakistan after attack on Malala Yusufzai. However, she refused to answer a question about Imran Khan's drive against drone attacks in Pakistan and his announcement to take it to the next level in the US. "We respect the right of peaceful protests, but I am not going to comment at all on intelligence matters," Nuland remarked.

Many people are wondering why media is so selective and gave so much coverage to Malala while 100s of innocent Malalas and women have been killed by drone attacks but we don't even find their names. Lahore Times opined, there is a clear link between Peace March of Imran Khan to Waziristan and attack on Malala. Peace March to Waziristan started worldwide new debates on drone attacks.

Many political leaders in Pakistan were asking: Why Malala alone? Why not a dozen of Pakistani women who die of drones every day or those who become a sacrifice in terrorist activities? Why prayers are being said for Malala and not for several other daughters attacked and bruised in various terror strikes?

As the hype created by the US-client government of Zaradi on the assassination attack on Malala Yousafzai and two of her schoolmates - Kainat and Shazia - fizzled out, Pakistan's Foreign Office said that the attack should not be linked to other matters.   When attention of Foreign Office Spokesman Moazzam Ahmed Khan was drawn that the Malala Yousafzai issue is being exploited by US and Britain to launch operation in North Waziristan- the spokesman during his weekly press briefing said there is no justification to link this with other matters.

Malala's US-connection

Malala Yusufzai came to lime light when she was profiled in Adam B Ellick's 32-minute documentary -- Class Dismissed -- produced by the New York Times in 2009.

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Malala was only 11 years old when this documentary was made. In the documentary she acts mature beyond her years. The documentary, which can be seen at the New York Times website and YouTube, shows her, along with her father and mother meeting with the late Richard Holbrooke, President Obama's special representative to Afghanistan and Pakistan. The documentary indicates that Malala played vital role in anti-Taliban military operation in Swat.

Malala became a celebrity in Pakistan in October, 2011, when Desmond Tutu announced her nomination for an international children's prize. It seems to have been the first time that her identity as the writer of the BBC diary became known to the broader public; the citation for her nomination mentioned her use of "international media to let the world know girls should also have the right to go to school."

There are scores of extraordinary Pakistani kids who blog online, write diaries in publications and appear on TV however, Malala was apparently selected by Western NGOs to be groomed into an anti-Taliban icon. Not surprisingly, she was routinely invited by a variety of senior government, military, diplomatic officials especially the US as indicated by the 2009 New York documentary.  

Her father, Ziauddin Yusufzai is the spokesperson for the Swat Qaumi Jirga, which has helped the mercenary Pakistani Army in its Swat operation launched in January 2009 that displaced 2.2 million people. The Swat valley, where army reportedly committed extra-judicial killings, still remains under military occupation and for many displaced persons life never returned to normal. 

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Abdus-Sattar Ghazali Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

Author and journalist. Author of Islamic Pakistan: Illusions & Reality; Islam in the Post-Cold War Era; Islam & Modernism; Islam & Muslims in the Post-9/11 America. Currently working as free lance journalist. Executive Editor of American (more...)
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