Malala Yusufzai’s Nobel Prize has got the westoxicated Pakistani elite into a tizzy. Suffering from acute inferiority complex, they find solace in acceptance by the west.
Colonialism has caused immense damage to colonized societies. Despite “independence” such damage has not been ameliorated because independence is a myth. The colonialists’ overriding interest was plunder but there was also another type of damage inflicted on victim societies: the dignity and self-respect of colonized peoples were eviscerated. They came to believe that they are inferior than the white man. The late El-Haj Malik Shabazz (better known as Malcolm X) described such people as “house slaves.” He contrasted this type of personality with that of the “field slave.” The house slave identified completely with the slave master. If the slave master was sick, wrote Malcolm X, the house slave would say, “What’s the matter master; are we sick?” The field slave prayed for the slave master’s death because this way he would get his freedom!
The house slave mentality is still present in all societies that suffered colonialism, especially in Muslim societies whose values have been greatly distorted. Most Muslim elites do not think in terms of Islamic principles. Their skin colour may be brown but their values and habits are white. They are, in the words of Lord McCauley, Brown Englishmen. Their self-worth is determined by acceptance in the West. In recent days, this has been strikingly demonstrated by Malala Yusufzai, the 17-year-old Pakistani girl from Swat who is the joint recipient of this year’s Nobel Peace prize. There is nothing peaceful about the Nobel prize; an odd assortment of war criminals from Menachem Begin and Henry Kissinger to Barack Obama have been awarded. Among Muslims, such traitors as Anwar al-Sadat and Yasir ‘Arafat were also recipients for surrendering to the Zionists.
Colonialism has caused immense damage to colonized societies. Despite “independence” such damage has not been ameliorated because independence is a myth.
Malala’s case is interesting. Not only is she the youngest recipient but she was honoured ostensibly for championing the cause of girls’ education in Pakistan and for standing up to the Taliban in her native Swat. Nobody can fault her for promoting education, especially for girls, but the story is not so simple. Her father runs for-profit schools and with the publicity surrounding his daughter, his fortunes have also brightened.
Since Malala’s award, the westernized Pakistani elite have been beside themselves. There have been acres of commentaries in secular newspapers like Dawn, the largest Pakistani English language daily (owned by the Haroon family, one of the largest business families). Many commentators are women. Their praise for Malala is not based on her gender or that she has championed girls’ education; they are thrilled because the West has recognized a Pakistani girl. Recognition and respect come only from the West. If the West recognizes a Pakistani, this immediately makes headlines. Dawn newspaper frequently carries stories from its Washington correspondent about what is published in the US media about Pakistan. The elite are obsessed with favourable stories in American newspapers or comments by American officials. American acceptance is their nirvana.
Some Pakistanis have questioned why Abdul Sattar Edhi has not been recognized for decades of service to humanity. There is an even more basic question: why have the same elite not cared about Nabeela, the young girl from North Waziristan injured in a US drone strike, barely two weeks after the attack on Malala? In the October 24, 2012 US drone strike, Nabeela’s 68-year-old grandmother Maimana was killed while she and her two siblings were badly injured. Like Malala, Nabeela’s father is also a school teacher but he owns no schools and his family was the victim of a US drone strike so they do not deserve any sympathy much less recognition.
Back to the Pakistani elite; while celebrating Malala’s award, the same elite hire young girls from Swat and other parts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as domestic servants in their palatial homes.
Back to the Pakistani elite; while celebrating Malala’s award, the same elite hire young girls from Swat and other parts of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province as domestic servants in their palatial homes. Perish the thought if they would care for these girls’ education whose fathers/brothers are forced to leave home in search of menial work or as chowkidars (guards/watchmen) in the homes of these elite.
The celebration over Malala’s award is not because of what she has done but what the West has done for her: conferred acceptance and recognition on her that the elite — the house slaves — of Pakistan crave. Pakistan barely spends 2% of its GDP on education. Even Rwanda (4.8%) and Peru (2.8%) spend more. Government-run schools in Pakistan have a very low standard; teachers are often absent because their salary is low and they are not paid on time. What is the point of applauding Malala’s award when no resources are made available for girls’ education or indeed for education in general?
Zafar Bangash is Director of the Institute of Contemporary Islamic Thought