Join 3,520 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Malala Yousafzai and Pakistani Feminism
October 10, 2012 2:54 AM   Subscribe

The 14 year old Pakistani diarist and feminist activist Malala Yousafzai (ملاله یوسفزۍ) has been shot in the head in a targeted attack by the Taliban [NewsPakistan] [AFP]. She is presently in hospital, and in a stable condition. The attack was in apparent reprisal for passing her diaries regarding the Taliban's ban on female education to the BBC in 2009 [original BBC diary story], but also her continued activism and pressure for women and girls' rights. The attempted killing is part of a wider conflict over women's rights within Pakistan, and Pakistani feminism in general tends to be bound up with religion and the shifting boundaries of having to argue against both the patriarchal government and the Taliban itself.
posted by jaduncan (63 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite

 
The mood in my home is sombre today. Mother-in-law vacillating between calling down the wrath of God on the people who attacked this girl ("How DARE they call themselves Muslims? How DARE they pretend that their actions have anything to do with Islam?") and fuming about the hypocrisy of the US foreign service condemning the targeting of innocents ("Yes, that's OUR prerogative, whether he do it with drones or sanctions"). This is interspersed with "please, please, please, let this be some kind of wake-up call for our nation. That poor sweet girl."

I haven't heard Malala speak, but my mother-in-law heard her speaking when she was awarded the National Peace Prize in Pakistan.

Praying for her recovery, and terribly frightened for my country. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan have apparently said that if she survives, they will attack her again.

Too upset to say much more.
posted by bardophile at 3:21 AM on October 10, 2012 [52 favorites]


I don't understand this. It's as though they are determined to prove that they are the lowest form of murderous scum, the most depraved bullies that exist or can exist. Is there anything lower than attempting to kill a child because she wants to learn? Does the concept of a public image not exist in their group?

I guess the bigger question for me is, these people couldn't operate without support. They couldn't exist if someone weren't actively supplying them, feeding them, tending to their injuries, sheltering them. Who are the people who see the child of their own neighbors being shot in the head and say to themselves, yes, that's the cause I want to identify with?
posted by 1adam12 at 3:29 AM on October 10, 2012 [11 favorites]


We should listen to the Taliban when they tell us as loudly as they can what their greatest fear and weakness is.

Hint - it's not silent death from above - that's America's greatest fear.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 3:31 AM on October 10, 2012 [19 favorites]


Malala Yousafzai has more courage than the Taliban and Pakistan parliament put together.
posted by quazichimp at 3:36 AM on October 10, 2012 [19 favorites]


Also can I say that first link is incredibly annoying on mobile Safari? There is a "like us on Facebook" ad overlay that pops up once the page loads, and then moves so the "x" is off screen. No matter where you scroll, the freaking thing runs away. \firstworldproblems
posted by Salvor Hardin at 3:38 AM on October 10, 2012


There's not much to say about the Taliban that they haven't already said by shooting an unarmed 14 year old girl looking for an education.

The Taliban are actively supported by Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence agency, hence the enveloping not-so-subtle war between the US and Pakistan.

The Taliban are brutal, backward and reactionary but they aren't political naifs, and neither are their patrons. The question for me is not why was she shot, but why was she shot now and who exactly is this message for?
posted by MuffinMan at 3:38 AM on October 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


The question for me is not why was she shot, but why was she shot now and who exactly is this message for?

If we're playing ISI Kremlinology, the conspiracy theory argument wouldn't exactly be hard.

a) The military is still being paid large sums in US aid to deal with militants;
b) there was a horrifying attack in Swat again after it was relatively quiet;
c) that continues to justify the aid payments and makes them politically hard to remove.

It just isn't the thing I want to do with this, and ascribing the ISI agency for everything that happens is IMO mistaken anyhow.
posted by jaduncan at 3:49 AM on October 10, 2012


This happened in Swat, where in 2009 the Pakistani military began an operation to drive out the Taliban. Does anyone have an idea about the rate at which military presence has wound down since then? Can the timing simply be a case of there once again being more room for the Taliban to operate?

From an article in The Guardian: Zahid Khan, another Quami Jirga activist who was attacked earlier in the year, said the authorities were not doing enough.

"More than 20 people have been killed in militant attacks after the army finished its operations but all the army does is protect itself and government buildings," he said. "It seems that innocent civilians are once again are at the mercy of miscreants."


Does the Pakistani military presence in Swat perhaps need some assistance from drones? Dead men can't shoot girls in the head.
posted by Anything at 3:59 AM on October 10, 2012


I hope her suffering is not for nothing, and that the shock of this will somehow change things for the better in Pakistan.

Lord knows western attempts to make the Taliban irrelevant has only ended up making them stronger and more well-funded, relative to what they were.
posted by flippant at 4:07 AM on October 10, 2012


jaduncan - that's fine. But the US begrudgingly signed off $2bn of aid last week - and Clinton has made clear that supporting the Pakistani military is the lesser of two evils. The Taliban could have attacked this poor girl at any point in the past 3 years. But they've chosen to do it now - selected a high profile non-military target guaranteed to cause waves.

It absolutely is an attack on Pakistani feminism, but the timing of it is something else.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:09 AM on October 10, 2012


I think as we talk about this it will be really helpful to remember the contents of parmanparman excellent post
The Pakistani Women You Have Probably Heard About How can we engage with the economic and physical violence against women, everywhere and anywhere, without falling into the trap of creating strict, rigid lines of good and evil that are unfair characterizations of populations? Additionally, what purpose do pieces such as the above-linked NY Times article on so-called “free will marriages” ultimately serve? Now that those of us who sit as spectators of Pakistan, from the outside, know that this is an experience of many Pakistani women – what do we do? What can we do?
posted by Blasdelb at 4:09 AM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


My first reaction when I heard about this last night was to think how fucked up the Taliban's belief systems are if they can see an unarmed 14 year old girl as a threat. I mean it just seems like an untenable stance in any kind of system of morals. But then I realised that it's just incompatible with my belief systems. Does anyone understand the kind of thinking that justifies an act like this? I mean, the Taliban are just people it's not like they're our evil adversaries or some bunch of Team America style bad guys. If we demonise them we'll never understand them.

I also heard some Pakistani official try and put positive spin on the whole thing as if Malala had achieved something by being shot in the head, which annoyed the hell out of me.

Anyway, poor Malala. Hope she makes a full recovery.
posted by jiroczech at 4:54 AM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


She might be just an unarmed 14 year old girl now, but watching and listening to her it's obvious that she could become something much more dangerous to the Taliban. They were trying to Terminate her.
posted by Flashman at 5:04 AM on October 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


If Obama was as craven as his political contemporaries we'd be murdering the shit out of a lot of bystanders right now in the name of Cowboy up and git those doggies!!! This would be momentarily emotionally satisfying, but ultimately horrifying. So thanks president Obama for your tempered grown up responses to the world. Sorry we can't give you another term but Romney is that craven as craven wins.
posted by humanfont at 5:10 AM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Humanfront, whaddyamean we can't give Obama another term? Why not make this a rallying cry TO get him another term?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:23 AM on October 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


Uh, yeah. Even after Romney's debate bump Nate Silver still has Obama at 70% to win.

I understand the need to ascribe some deep political meaning or planning on the part of the Taliban to this atrocity, but I think that might be a mistake.

They are murderous scumbags. They are just doing what they do.
posted by COD at 5:29 AM on October 10, 2012


I was really saddened when I saw the articles about this yesterday. There's nothing that excuses shooting a young girl in the head. Personally, I find it sickening how much of modern warfare relies on both deliberate (like this shooting) and accidental or collateral (like in drone strikes and IED attacks) killing of civilians. It's repulsive and it creates cycles of violence that feed on violence.
posted by Forktine at 5:34 AM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I hope her suffering is not for nothing, and that the shock of this will somehow change things for the better in Pakistan.

That won't happen until Pakistan figures out whether it wants to be run by a government or the Taliban. So far, they seem to be leaning towards the latter.
posted by tommasz at 5:56 AM on October 10, 2012


It absolutely is an attack on Pakistani feminism, but the timing of it is something else.
posted by MuffinMan at 4:09 AM on October 10


Are they trying to get Mitt Elected? The timing couldn't be better to swing some people on to the right side of the fence.
posted by Gungho at 5:59 AM on October 10, 2012


I find it sickening how much of modern warfare relies on both deliberate (like this shooting) and accidental or collateral (like in drone strikes and IED attacks) killing of civilians. It's repulsive and it creates cycles of violence that feed on violence.
posted by Forktine at 8:34 AM on October 10 [+] [!]


However it is usually the massive amounts of civilian casualties, or the threat thereof, that often force the end of wars.
posted by Gungho at 6:01 AM on October 10, 2012


Maybe Pakistani feminists should work with the western media to explain: just what is it about people with xx chromosomes reading that has the Taliban so angry/frightened?

I understand other ultra-conservative religious groups and how they want to maintain traditional gender divisions. I disagree, but it makes sense. But to fight even segregated schools seems to say that yes, they really hate and fear women.

on perhaps a dark comic note: I heard on the radio a good suggestion for saving cloth - instead of burkas covering everything but a woman's eyes, it would be much cheaper just to cover all of the men's eyes.
posted by jb at 6:29 AM on October 10, 2012 [5 favorites]


According to data compiled by the New America Foundation from reliable news reports, CIA drone strikes in Pakistan have killed an estimated 1,886 to 3,191 people since 2004, of which 1,597 - 2,734 were reported to be militants.

Last month, a “senior administration official” said the number of civilians killed in drone strikes in Pakistan under President Obama is in the “single digits.” But last year “U.S. officials” said drones in Pakistan killed about 30 civilians in just a yearlong stretch under Obama.

Both claims can’t be true.


how many 14 year olds were killed for saying marxism and the brotherhood of man were a-ok in afghanistan after 1980?
posted by ennui.bz at 6:54 AM on October 10, 2012


#LetterToMalala on Twitter, encouraging people to tweet and mail supportive messages to Malala. Limited activity so far, but some touching messages.
posted by EvaDestruction at 7:21 AM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


That won't happen until Pakistan figures out whether it wants to be run by a government or the Taliban. So far, they seem to be leaning towards the latter.

Islamic fundamentalism is a useful tool for elements within the Pakistani government and their intelligence services, which makes the clear antagonistic relationship you're trying to portray kind of simplistic. And I haven't seen much evidence that "Pakistan" (by which I assume you mean ordinary Pakistanis) want to be run by the Taliban. They're mostly scared and resigned, due to the lack of any better alternative to the present tenuously 'democratic' regime and its military overseers.

Are they trying to get Mitt Elected? The timing couldn't be better to swing some people on to the right side of the fence.

The folks who have any interest in protecting feminist activists, at home or abroad, are unlikely to switch to the Republicans under any conditions, really.

The attempt to kill Malala is horrible but not surprising at all, and I don't get people who wonder how the Taliban can allow this or other people accept it. This is the same shit it ever was - Jim Crow racists did the same thing at Birmingham 5th Baptist, right-wingers at Oklahoma City, any number of ethnic terror groups abroad - you kill the ones that speak out, regardless of sex or age, in an attempt to scare everyone else into silence. If anyone complains, you go after them and their loved ones. The image of a dead/wounded child can actually be more effective in silencing opposition, because who wants their children to be the next to disappear on the way to school, eh? That's the dynamic they're trying for, here.
posted by AdamCSnider at 7:38 AM on October 10, 2012 [10 favorites]


Reagan legacy lingers in Afghanistan, Pakistan
But what was being done in Afghanistan was done through the help and instrumentality of the Pakistan army. The first requirement of the 1979 war in Afghanistan was people imbued with anti-communist zeal. Pakistan helped manufacture as well as mobilize the Islamic extremists and trained and indoctrinated them into first-rate mujahideen.

The war was fought in the bogus name of Islam, funded and led mainly by the US government, though nominally by Afghanistan and Pakistani mujahideen.

The biggest damage was not physical, although it was horrible enough in Afghanistan. It was spiritual and political. Inevitably, a new Islam came into being. What began to emerge in the 1980s was politically different from what the Pakistanis knew as Islam.

The Islam that Pakistanis knew was recognized on all sides, even by dictators, as being able to countenance democracy and all fundamental rights. But in the 1980s, the official propaganda by General Zia ul-Haq, the darling of Reagan and the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), was that Islam and democracy could not go together.
The violence will end when we stop pretending that we can change things for the better with more violence.
posted by deanklear at 7:39 AM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


That last link on Pakistani feminism/feminist movements is long but quite thorough and analytical with a lot of explanations, history, and details of different positions, and the author's take on how it all holds together, works or doesn't work or partially works. I found it very much worth reading. And it again proves to me these things cannot take a black-and-white sledgehammer approach to "fix" anything.
What is new is a general acceptance of a clearer West vs. Islam dichotomy in post-9/11 Pakistan, and its attendant political challenges... Women have become, once again, symbols for the (western) audience of either the progressive, modern, potential of the nation or the veiled, traditionalist, threatening reminders of faith-based politics. Muslim women's identities seem to have indeed become a project worthy of study within this new framework - a new brand of academic interest.

This article argues that these strains pre-existed 9/11, which then can merely be seen as an event that speeded up the dichotomies and gave currency to the unresolved issue of women's identities, particularly with regard to religion, in Pakistan. The war on terror furthered this cleavage and has lent a certain political credibility and legitimacy to faith-based feminism as the alternative to a larger imperialist, US-sponsored, westernized women's rights discourse.

...It is also a comment on the complete failure of the so-called progressive potential of Islamic feminism and the revivalist, reformist, apologist approach that is a major part of the women's movement. Today, those very same empowering strategies of WLUML have come back to haunt them in their most triumphant form. It is about the complete failure of the non-governmental sector to propel a progressive politics outside its projects and donor-driven agendas. Today, the same international funding agencies that funded and supported the dictatorial regimes of the 1980s are, in the new millennium, scrambling back to the drawing board looking to fund projects that can help fight 'extremism' and 'talibanization', as if it appeared post-9/11 and is an indigenous, madrassa-empowered phenomenon.
posted by flex at 7:55 AM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


Would you ever guess that Pakistan had a female Prime Minister before?
posted by PenDevil at 7:58 AM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


" . . . all that he knew of literature had been obtained by stealth, for in the country whence he came, it was considered a crime against the law to teach a slave to read."

Oppressors are always terrified of those they oppress gaining an education. For good reason. Discrimination and dehumanization can only thrive on a constant diet of ignorance.
posted by BlueJae at 8:02 AM on October 10, 2012


That won't happen until Pakistan figures out whether it wants to be run by a government or the Taliban. So far, they seem to be leaning towards the latter.

That is ridiculous. The average Pakistani has no affection for Afghanistan Taleban, although they would rather their government negotiate with the Pakistani Taleban rather than conduct military operations.

Furthermore, Pakistan is really in no real danger of being run by the Taleban, unless some sort of huge US military strike against Pakistan occurs which completely dissolves the existing political structure. Pakistan is also hardly run by a strong central government, but rather a series of complicated patronage systems bound up in family, clan, biradiri, regional, etc. ties. Religion as a polical force has a really hard time penatating Sindh and Punjab, where the vast majority of Pakistanis live and where the vast majority of public officials and miliatary officials come from. Most Pakistanis are too attached to their saints or pirs anyway to embrace the sort of political Islam that is on offer.

What happened to this poor girl really sucks and makes me angry, but there is no need to dump the blame on the populace as a whole. My guess is that there are also many, many Pakistanis outraged by this.
posted by Falconetti at 8:45 AM on October 10, 2012 [6 favorites]


omg, i thought she was dead. i hope she does a full recovery. we need more Malala's in the world.
posted by liza at 10:03 AM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


My guess is that there are also many, many Pakistanis outraged by this.

Indeed, there have been demonstrations and vigils and prayer-meetings all over the country for her. I am feeling a bit too emotional to weigh in with any reasoned analysis right now. I may attempt it in a couple of days.

I do want to say that it's far too easy to stereotype whole groups, indeed nations, of people with whom you have had no direct interaction. Please try to avoid the temptation.
posted by bardophile at 10:04 AM on October 10, 2012 [8 favorites]


Interview with 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai who was shot by Taliban
posted by homunculus at 10:20 AM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pakistan Erupts in Anger Over Taliban’s Shooting of Schoolgirl
posted by homunculus at 10:20 AM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


And we've got Terry Jones protesting at my daughter's school today about some imagined Muslim versus non Muslim violence. And believe me, the trolls are out in full force, some in person, some on Facebook posts about this occurrence. And in the meantime, there's something going on in the Muslim world that's really worth protesting about.
posted by Kokopuff at 10:22 AM on October 10, 2012


I don't understand this. It's as though they are determined to prove that they are the lowest form of murderous scum, the most depraved bullies that exist or can exist. Is there anything lower than attempting to kill a child because she wants to learn? Does the concept of a public image not exist in their group?

I think the missing piece for you here may be the understanding that Islam is fundamentally unlike Judaeo-Christian culture in that honor and shame are the two poles of moral culture. A great deal of social control in Islamic culture, as well, continues to revolve around the oppression of women.

More broadly, we have only recently -- a generation, within my own lifetime -- become a culture where domestic violence, rape, and molestation are no longer acceptable and we are still actively engaged in a process of reducing the blame attributable to victims for their own victimization. We're not that far ahead, even using our own metrics.

Another concept here -- "public image" -- is best seen as a democratic society's luxury. When you accept that you are seeking to improve your public image, you are essentially conceding that the broader culture -- the marketplace of ideas, what have you -- has a say in your own behavior. I don't think that is something that really organically derives from tribal culture where power is hierarchical and based on family, caste, or religious authority.
posted by dhartung at 11:09 AM on October 10, 2012


"Islam is fundamentally unlike Judaeo-Christian culture in that honor and shame are the two poles of moral culture"

Ummm... what?
posted by Blasdelb at 12:24 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Islam is fundamentally unlike Judaeo-Christian culture in that honor and shame are the two poles of moral culture"

Ummm... what?


The definitions of honor differ...
posted by Mojojojo at 12:34 PM on October 10, 2012 [1 favorite]


And we've got Terry Jones protesting at my daughter's school today about some imagined Muslim versus non Muslim violence

It took me a scary minute to realize that you probably mean this Terry Jones, and not the man who I think of as THE (amazing, awesome, wonderful) Terry Jones.
posted by jb at 12:44 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


Having just read this article to my year 9 English class - "Why Afghan Women Risk Death To Write Poetry" yesterday, I feel like there is an eerie coincidence with this attack on that poor girl.

For what its worth, a class full of teenagers in Australia will be thinking of Malala Yousafzi, and praying for her recovery, and an end to the conflict.
posted by robotot at 1:01 PM on October 10, 2012 [3 favorites]


Humanfront, whaddyamean we can't give Obama another term? Why not make this a rallying cry TO get him another term?
posted by EmpressCallipygos

I have to give that to HF. The election is over, you just do not relize it yet. And using this incident or ones like as a rally cry to re-elect barry, thats just insane.
posted by clavdivs at 3:02 PM on October 10, 2012


Hey all (well, some), I have as much political fervor and interest in the upcoming US presidential election as the next Metfilter user, but this story really isn't about the US and it's current horse race. Could we leave the Obama/Romney horseracefilter for another thread?

It seems to me if she survives (and isn't killed by a future assassination attempt) she will be a leader in women's rights in Pakistan (and perhaps the entire region); if she is killed, she will be a martyr to cause of women's rights in Pakistan (and the world).

Thanks you, young one, for having unswaying bravery, courage, and for making the world a better place.

Her bravery is inspiring, and shows that having bravery in ones words can make an impact that bravery with a gun will never approach.
posted by el io at 3:17 PM on October 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


I guess the bigger question for me is, these people couldn't operate without support. They couldn't exist if someone weren't actively supplying them, feeding them, tending to their injuries, sheltering them. Who are the people who see the child of their own neighbors being shot in the head and say to themselves, yes, that's the cause I want to identify with?

No offense but I think this is a somewhat simplistic view that's fostered by living exclusively in democracies. Tyrannies of every description everywhere have almost always had minority support. Where we you last year during the Arab Spring? Those were regimes with minority support that had endured for decades. They don't need support from the neighbours, they just need silence, and there's a power differential there that makes it easy to engender that.

Are they trying to get Mitt Elected? The timing couldn't be better to swing some people on to the right side of the fence.

This may be shocking to hear, but not everyone in the world is thinking about the US election when they do something.
posted by smoke at 4:22 PM on October 10, 2012 [4 favorites]


She might be just an unarmed 14 year old girl now, but watching and listening to her it's obvious that she could become something much more dangerous to the Taliban. They were trying to Terminate her.
posted by Flashman at 8:04 AM on October 10


something or somebody like Benazir Bhutto.
posted by liza at 4:24 PM on October 10, 2012


The Taliban are brutal, backward and reactionary but they aren't political naifs, and neither are their patrons. The question for me is not why was she shot, but why was she shot now and who exactly is this message for?
I think you're implying far more coordination and discipline to a bunch of illiterate religious fanatics then actually exists.

Some idiot found out about some girl doing something he disapproved of, and shot her. Maybe he was affiliate with the Taliban, and maybe the Taliban is affiliated with the ISI. But that doesn't mean the top ISI directors decided to assassinate her from some political reason.
Humanfront, whaddyamean we can't give Obama another term? Why not make this a rallying cry TO get him another term?
Because he has nothing to do with it? Neither does Romney. Obama isn't exactly popular in Pakistan. How many girls do you think have been killed in drone strikes?
posted by delmoi at 8:23 PM on October 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


My conversations with Malala Yousafzai, the girl who stood up to the Taliban (+video)
posted by the man of twists and turns at 2:58 PM on October 11, 2012


Pakistan prays for Malala's fragile health
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf calls shooting of teenage activist an "attack on our national and social values".
posted by the man of twists and turns at 5:59 AM on October 13, 2012


Prime Minister Ashraf, I'd probably take your sympathy a lot more seriously if you tried just a bit harder to put some measure of control on the Taliban in your country and hadn't been stonewalling US efforts to get Bin Laden quite so much.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:02 AM on October 13, 2012


as oppossed to a less serious sympathtic view?
posted by clavdivs at 7:59 AM on October 13, 2012


liza, it's truly an insult to Malala Yousafzai to make that comparison. Benazir Bhutto was an extremely privileged, extremely corrupt, Pakistani politician, who did nothing in her time in office other than line her own pockets, the pockets of her family members (the ones that she wasn't feuding with, that is), and the pockets of her cronies. For bonus points, she dismantled a bunch of social development programs, simply because they hadn't been put in place by her party. I will concede that she showed personal courage in campaigning all over the country in the months before her death, BUT, even that was to her personal benefit. Malala Yousufzai harms no one but the ignorant bastards who have attacked her.

EmpressCallipygos, Prime Minister Ashraf is a fill-in prime minister, tasked with getting the People's Party government through the next general election, somewhere around February next year. His predecessor, Yousuf Raza Gillani, was booted out of office because he was found in contempt of court for refusing to carry out the Supreme Court of Pakistan's order that the Pakistani government write to the Swiss courts in connection with charges of financial impropriety against sitting president Asif Ali Zardari (Also known variously as Mr 10%, Mr 50%, and Satan Incarnate in casual Pakistani conversation). Raja Pervez Ashraf's previous claim to fame was serving as an utterly incompetent minister for water and power, presiding over the worst power shortages Pakistan has known in this writer's memory, and promising every week that the crisis would be over by the next week, or month, or three months.

Since he's only been the Prime Minister since June of this year, there's no question of him having anything to do with any stonewalling of attempts to get Bin Laden. Also, the idea that the Pakistani civilian government is not doing enough to put pressure on the Taliban is a little silly. It doesn't take into consideration that the Pakistani military has a real ideological split amongst its personnel, that the military is really not subservient to the civilian government, or that putting more pressure on the Taliban generally results in more attacks on civilian targets in urban Pakistan, attacks in which innocents are the vast majority of the victims.

Pakistanis as a whole are pretty staunchly anti-Taliban. What sympathy exists for them is almost universally based in a shared sense of outrage about drone attacks and military action as the weapon of choice in a region that has been utterly neglected vis a vis development efforts. I know no Pakistani who supports their thuggishness, however, no matter where people lie on the conservative-liberal spectrum, or the fundamentalist-atheist spectrum.

As AdamCSnider points out, these tactics are not new to the world. The latest is that the Tehreek-i-Taliban have threatened Malala's father, as well. The Maulana Fazlullah referenced in the article was the main target of the army action in Swat a few years ago.

I can't pretend to understand why this girl enrages them so much. But this Fazlullah guy is responsible for so many children's deaths by virtue of having preached that polio vaccinations were evil. So I don't expect rational thought from him.

The more important question is, how do nutcases like him get into positions of power? What is their source of influence? How do they and their henchmen get away with terrorizing a whole populace? And I think the answer lies in a general lawlessness, a general failure of the state to take care of its own, a general perception that the government is corrupt and weak, that it lacks the will and the ability to protect the populace. More and more people are becoming poorer and poorer, income inequality is becoming more and more starkly visible (I nearly puked the other day, quite literally, when I saw a Maserati on a road in Lahore. How can anyone stomach driving a car that must have cost at least $100,000 in a country where a decent, middle-class, annual salary is $2500?). There's a reason rioters attack multinational restaurant chains, clothing stores, and banks.

I'm going off on a tangent, I think.

This girl. And all the girls like her. May they know a safer future. It's really not that much to ask. That children should be able to take it for granted that they will be able to go to school.
posted by bardophile at 11:56 AM on October 13, 2012 [5 favorites]


Malala Yousafzai: Taliban shooting victim flown to UK
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:31 AM on October 15, 2012


Juan Cole: Malala Yousufzai taken to UK for Treatment; and Pakistan’s Education Shame
posted by homunculus at 4:50 PM on October 15, 2012


Taliban threaten journalists over Malala Yousafzai coverage: News organisations forced to take extra security precautions after torrent of negative stories put Taliban on defensive
posted by homunculus at 4:52 PM on October 15, 2012


This wasn't just a couple of guys who happened to see her and shoot her the Taliban leadership planned and ambush and are actually upset they didn't manage to kill her.
posted by humanfont at 8:31 PM on October 15, 2012


Can Malala Bring Peace To Pakistan and Afghanistan?
For several years, the United States and NATO forces based in Afghanistan have demanded that the army carry out just such operations, but Pakistan has declined. After the shooting of Malala, there is unprecedented domestic pressure to finally do so. Pakistanis want to make it clear that they, the majority, do not support this brand of Islamic fundamentalism. If the army refuses to act now it may find itself ostracized by the very public whose support it seeks. On Monday, Interior Minister Rehman Malik was still insisting that there would be no operation in Waziristan—but the civilian government does not have the last word on any military operation.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 3:13 AM on October 16, 2012


Malala and Goliath - a Pakistani cartoonist writes, draws, and talks with his daughter about Malala.
posted by bardophile at 11:35 AM on October 17, 2012


We are not Malala, we may be the Taliban - blog post from one of the more West-leaning English newspapers. The translations aren't all very good, but the piece should still give people a sense of how much ground the moderates have ceded in the public discourse in Pakistan. I'm just relieved that someone is calling them on it in the popular media.

That said, a very small proportion of the small literate population of Pakistan reads English newspapers, or blog posts on the websites of English newspapers.
posted by bardophile at 11:54 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Is Swat Seeing A Taliban Resurgence?
Under immense pressure at home and abroad, and encouraged by the public outcry over the fact that the Swat Taliban were only 70 kilometers from the capital Islamabad, the Pakistani army launched Operation Rah-e-Raast (Right Path) in May 2009. Earlier, the failure of the first and second phases of the military operation Rah-e-Haq (Just Path) in Swat had forced an influential elder and political leader from the area, Afzal Khan Lala, to tell the army chief General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani that the army and Taliban were "two faces of the same coin."
posted by the man of twists and turns at 10:27 PM on October 19, 2012


Ten Women Who Shook Pakistan
posted by the man of twists and turns at 1:46 AM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Forgive me for linking to the Daily Mail, but I wanted to share the photograph on the back of a rickshaw.

Rickshaws have, over the past five to ten years, become the site of advertising. Before that, the exterior of the rickshaw might have been decorated, but was more likely simply to have a couplet or two of Urdu poetry. The Urdu poetry continues, but now we have these ads printed on vinyl. It seems to be a reasonably cheap form of advertising; most of the time, it's from some seller of snake-oil or immigration "consultant." More often than I'd like, it's from some religious party making some proclamation that I find offensive, frightening, comical, or some grotesque mixture of all three.

So this image is particularly heartening. The text reads "All peace-loving Pakistanis pray for you. May you regain good health soon and return to Pakistan."

Bonus: The rickshaw is from Lahore (The way I figured this out was that the address on the bottom left side reads 102, Lytton Rd. I just returned to the photograph to see that the license plate is also Lahori.).
posted by bardophile at 9:40 AM on October 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ten Women Who Shook Pakistan

Mukhtar Mai - the gang rape victim who defied her attackers. An interview with the Pakistani rape victim who became an iconic advocate of women's rights.
posted by homunculus at 4:15 PM on October 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Girl Who Changed Pakistan
posted by the man of twists and turns at 12:57 PM on October 22, 2012


Pakistan Taliban threaten another child activist after Malala shooting: Hinna Khan, 17, warned in phone calls that she will be next owing to her participation in her parents' work to help women
posted by homunculus at 11:15 AM on October 24, 2012


Hopeful Drawings - Anti-Taliban Sentiment
Back in 2009, the Khushal Girls’ School in Swat’s capital, which is run by Malala’s father Ziauddin, a Pushtun educator and poet, participated in an artistic end-of-Ramadan competition. The girls from the school expressed in their drawings (see below) their desire to learn and to liberate their valley from the Taliban oppression.

Many pictures presented what seems a sunny before-and-after transition: the same pupils being in the midst of a conflict; and then enjoying the Taliban-free Swat valley, holding hands and smiling.

Were it that the Swat valley could be holding hands and smiling
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:21 PM on October 26, 2012


« Older How cork is made - An illustrated guide to the cor...  |  Kenya has another election com... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments