by Zafar Bangash (Main Stories, Crescent International Vol. 41, No. 9, Dhu al-Hijjah, 1433)
The attack on Malala Yousafzai last month has evoked worldwide condemnation. From US President Barack Obama to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, all condemned the attack. The question is: why is Malala given so much prominence when other attacks on girls in Pakistan and Afghanistan go virtually unnoticed?
The attempt on the life of Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl from Mingora in Pakistan’s Swat Valley on October 9 has aroused worldwide outrage. Two other girls were also injured in the attack as Malala was returning home in a school bus. There were rallies in her support not only in Pakistan but some very high-powered global players also weighed in on her case. In what must be a first, US President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown all condemned the attack on Malala as did most politicians in Pakistan. Hollywood actress Angelina Jolie suggested Malala should be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize while Madonna put Malala’s name on her bare back!
It is impossible not to sympathize with Malala, a young girl with large beautiful hazel eyes peering from her innocent face, and her naturally distraught parents.
Let us get the basic facts straight before we proceed. She was attacked and badly injured when a gunman boarded the school bus she was riding home from school. The gunman demanded to know who Malala was. When another girl student pointed to her, the gunman opened fire, hitting Malala in the head and neck. The gunman also shot and wounded two other girls before escaping. The badly wounded girl was rushed to Peshawar, capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
After initial treatment at a hospital in Peshawar, Malala was airlifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Rawalpindi where Pakistan’s top neurosurgeons treated her. Once her condition stabilized, she was flown to Britain where she is now receiving rehabilitative care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Doctors have given a good prognosis of her recovery and say she will be able to resume normal life after some reconstructive surgery to her skull.
It is impossible not to sympathize with Malala, a young girl with large beautiful hazel eyes peering from her innocent face, and her naturally distraught parents. It is shocking that a young girl would be targeted for simply wanting to go to school to acquire education, which is her birthright as it is of millions of other young girls in Pakistan as indeed elsewhere in the world. What kind of beasts would want to harm a young girl doing no more than acquiring education?
But who exactly is Malala Yousufzai to attract so much international attention? What about the two other girls that were injured in the same attack? Even their names are not widely known, much less information about their parents. Apart from the fact that they are out of danger, there is little that we know about their plight. Are they not worthy of attention and sympathy? Within days of the assault on Malala, American troops killed three Afghan children on October 14 in an aerial attack in the Nawa district of Helmand Province in Afghanistan. It may not be adjoining Swat Valley but is not very far either from where Malala was attacked and injured.
As is customary, the US military initially described the bombing as a “precision strike,” that was reportedly aimed at several Taliban fighters who were allegedly planting an IED in the road. The attack, however, killed three children. Does anybody know the names of those three innocent Afghan children, all members of the same family collecting dung for fuel in the grinding poverty of Afghanistan despite 11 years of America’s showering the country with cruise missiles and trillions of dollars in “aid”? For the record, the three children were Borjan, 12; Sardar Wali, 10; and Khan Bibi, 8 but do not expect Obama, Clinton or any other Western official to rush to the microphone to name these children or condemn the cowardly attack that snuffed the life out of three innocent children. That would not serve America’s “national interest” nor would keeping statistics of the hundreds of children murdered by American drones in Pakistan’s tribal region since 2004. On October 20, American forces killed four more children in Afghanistan. There is no mention of their names; it is safe to assume we will never learn their names. Another batch of Afghan children have been slaughtered for the sake of protecting and projecting “US interests.”
On October 12, CNN’s Christiane Amanpour asked Pakistani Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani whether her government would now go after the Taliban in North Waziristan? To her credit, Ms. Rabbani pointed out that when the Pakistan army launched its operations in Swat in the summer of 2009, most of the militants fled to Afghanistan’s Kunar province. They were sheltered there while the US and its allies keep demanding of us to go after the Taliban and their supporters in Pakistan. One Pakistani general asked in the wake of the Malala attack: are the Taliban from Pakistan really such a threat to US security? The overwhelming majority of Taliban are inside Afghanistan. Why are the US and its allies incapable of dealing with the problem at its source instead of demanding that Pakistan “do more”?
So we come back to the question: Who is Malala Yousufzai and why has she been turned into an international icon? She even has entries on Wikipedia. How many Pakistani students, much less a girl from a remote town in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, have such entries? Is it possible that unknown to her, Malala was being used in a larger US plan by first building her profile, then deliberately releasing information to make her the target of an attack in order to force the Pakistani military to launch an operation in North Waziristan that the US has been demanding for months? Not surprisingly, soon after the attack on Malala, calls were heard both within and outside Pakistan to strike at the Taliban in North Waziristan. As Hafiz Hussain Ahmed of the Jamiat-ul Ulama-e Islam asked: what has North Waziristan got to do with Mingora, where Malala was attacked unless this is part of a broader plan?
One cannot help but draw comparisons between Malala and a pregnant woman in the Bollywood movie Kahaani (Story). The pregnant Indian woman, Mrs. Vidya Bagchi, (played by Vidya Balan) sets out from London to search for her husband who has gone “missing” in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). The movie plot is quite involved but she ends up being used by a ruthless and arrogant intelligence agent named Mr. Khan (played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui). He wants to trap a reneged intelligence officer-turned-killer who murdered 200 passengers on a commuter train using poisonous gas. A young police officer named Rana working for Mr. Khan is taken aback when he realizes what his boss is up to. Mrs. Bagchi is to be used as bait to lure the killer and to ferret out the mole inside the intelligence outfit who is helping the killer.
Rana asks Mr. Khan what is the difference between them and the killer if they are both prepared to kill innocent people (in this case, Mrs. Bagchi). Mr. Khan scolds his underling warning him against getting emotionally involved with Mrs. Bagchi and then tells him in a matter of fact manner, “He [the killer] is wrong and we are right because we kill to serve the ‘national interest’.” Is Malala in real life the equivalent of Mrs. Bagchi of the Bollywood movie? Let us explore this further.
Malala was born on July 12, 1997. Her father, Ziauddin Yousufzai, owns a number of for-profit schools. While almost everything else in Pakistan is going down the drain, for-profit schools and the closely related non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that are generously financed from abroad are thriving businesses.
It was a BBC reporter Abdul Hai Kakkar who discovered Malala in early 2009. His assignment was to find a courageous schoolgirl willing to share her experiences of the threats by Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) against girls getting education. The TTP led by Mullah Fazlullah was shutting down schools in Swat Valley as it flexed its muscles. Kakkar approached Ziauddin Yusufzai for help and he willingly offered his own daughter’s experiences.
The plan gelled into Malala, then 11 years old, writing her diary that the BBC World Service would put on its website under the title, “The Diary of a Pakistani School Girl.” In order to protect her identity, Malala was given the pseudonym “Gul Makai” (corn flower). The diary detailed Malala’s life under Taliban rule, their attempts to take control of the valley, and her views on promoting education for girls. One cannot help but wonder whether her father’s motive was in promoting girls’ education or he feared his income dwindling if the girls’ schools he was running were shut down.
Malala’s cover, however, was blown that summer when Adam B. Ellick of the New York Times featured her in two videos describing her family’s life as well as showed her at school. This was the time the Pakistani military was about to launch an attack on Swat Valley. What was the reason for the Times to go public with this information and who is Adam Ellick? Scott Creighton, a war veteran who writes for the blog the American Everyman, had this to say about Ellick on October 17. “Meet Adam Ellick, the Council on Foreign Relations member and apparent CIA mockingbird stationed at the New York Times. He’s the guy who helped create the Malala Psyop in the first place, the plan to bring for-profit school systems to all of Pakistan.”
The Times’ videos led to Malala gaining instant international fame. For the Pakistani media — print and electronic — this was a great opportunity to project their loyalty to America. That is where the dollar pipeline comes from. In the WikiLeaks cables released in 2010, the US embassy messages to the US State Department say Pakistani journalists are easily bought and can be made to do anything for a mere invitation to the US embassy. Despite such insulting revelations about their low character, the US-doting Pakistani journalists are not deterred.
Malala’s Times videos brought the Pakistani media flocking to her door. She began giving interviews in the print and electronic media. We need to keep in mind that she was barely 11 or 12 years old at the time. At the same time, she was appointed chairperson of the District Child Assembly Swat. Further accolades followed when the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Bishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa, nominated her in October 2011 for the International Children’s Peace Prize. But there was something else that was even more striking. Richard Holbrooke, the US special envoy for Pakistan and Afghanistan who died on December 13, 2010, had also discovered Malala, or her enterprising father. Their picture together has gone viral on the internet. Why would Holbrooke, a no nonsense diplomat, be interested in Ziauddin Yousafzai unless there was a larger plan at work? Two months after Bishop Tutu’s nomination of Malala, the Pakistani government came up with its own award: the “National Youth Prize Award,” a first for Pakistan that was given to Malala.
Her interviews on television were powerful and direct, even being blunt and provocative. It seemed as if the young Malala was deliberately being pushed to say things to provoke the Taliban. Here is what she said in one TV interview, “In a situation where a lifelong school break was being imposed upon us by the terrorists, rising up against that became very important, essential.” Considering that even Pakistani politicians surrounded by a phalanx of bodyguards and other security detachments speak more guardedly, Malala’s statements, however, true, were bound to evoke a strong reaction. This is not to suggest that the Taliban are right or that they should be allowed to intimidate people but the reality is that unless there is adequate security against such threats, it would be prudent not to provoke them unnecessarily.
Even when reminded of the risks she was courting, Malala said her father, who worked for women’s education, supported her fully. Her mother was equally supportive, she said but the irony is that Malala’s mother is kept inside the house while the young girl is projected internationally. As Adam Ellick tells us, Ziauddin Yousafzai “was a bit traditional, and as a result, I was unable to interact with her [Malala’s] mother. I used to chide Ziauddin about these restrictions, especially in front of Malala. Her father would laugh dismissively and joke that Malala should not be listening. Malala beamed as I pressed her father to treat his wife as an equal.” (emphasis added).
Her interviews on television were powerful and direct, even being blunt and provocative.
Is Ellick truly a journalist working for the Times or a CIA spook? This is not mere conjecture; Pakistan is crawling with CIA operatives. Raymond Davis, the notorious CIA operative who supposedly worked for the US Consulate as a “security consultant,” shot dead two Pakistanis in broad daylight in Lahore on January 27, 2011. Vast amounts of weapons and other paraphernalia were recovered from Davis’ vehicle including vital information from his cell phone. He had been in regular contact with about 60 people that were on the US list of terrorists. After a few months, he was whisked out of Pakistan under a deal struck by the cowardly rulers of Pakistan. Davis is not the only case although he is the most notorious because he was caught in broad daylight. Blackwater (now renamed Xe Services) mercenaries are also crawling all over Pakistan. Regrettably, there are many retired Pakistani military officers, bureaucrats, journalists and civilians on the CIA/Xe Service payroll. These Pakistani mercenaries willingly violate Pakistani laws for a few dollars to serve their foreign masters.
For decades, the Pakistani establishment has been obsessed with the Indian intelligence agency RAW. In the last decade, Pakistan has become a battleground for the CIA, British MI6, Germany’s BND and the Israeli Mossad, to name only a few, whose agents roam every nook and cranny of the country, mostly disguised as journalists, aid workers or businessmen. So it is not surprising to learn that poor Malala was used as a pawn by these monsters that will stop at nothing to advance their nefarious agenda. It does not require a genius to figure out what the US-British-Zionist and their allies’ agenda in Pakistan is: to entangle Pakistan in a never-ending conflict with its own people from the tribal area to provide the pretext for grabbing Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. For proof of this, one only has to read the October 21 piece published in the British daily, the Guardian, by Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst. He warned, on the eve of the third and final presidential debate that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons posed the “greatest security threat” to the US and urged both Obama and his Republican rival Mitt Romney to pay close attention to this.
There is one other dimension worthy of attention and that is what the former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has done. He has launched a United Nations petition using the slogan “I am Malala” demanding that all children in the world should be in school by 2015. He plans to present the petition to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari later this month. Brown’s activities on behalf of Malala and indeed other children would sound more noble were it not for the fact he heads the “global campaign for charter, for-profit school systems.” There is tons of money to be made in this enterprise.
Let us be clear: the West and its corporations are not in the business of doling out cash to third world countries or care much about the children there unless there is a hidden agenda behind the façade of their good work.
Brown’s campaign is supposed to work in tandem with the UN’s scheme run under the alluring title, “Education First.” This is a global public/private partnership scheme whereby not-for-profit institutions would be privatized. The “not-for-profit” institutions are run under the label, “Global Business Coalition for Education,” and set up by such Western — mainly American — corporations as Accenture, Hess, Chevron, Pearson International and others. Their targeted countries are Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Nigeria. One is constrained to ask, what interest do these multinationals have in promoting education in the third world, especially Muslim countries?
Let us be clear: the West and its corporations are not in the business of doling out cash to third world countries or care much about the children there unless there is a hidden agenda behind the façade of their good work. One is clearly to re-route the billions of dollars to their own pockets. The other equally sinister plan is to promote Western culture, thoughts and values by using the label of education. The third and equally sinister plan is to force targeted societies — in this case Pakistan — to launch military operations against its own people in North Waziristan to achieve America’s geo-political objectives.
Whether Malala knows it or not, if her father has any sense he would realize that his family is being used as dupes for America’s criminal enterprise. Malala is a tiny piece in this jigsaw puzzle.