Pakistan has to be the most creative country in the world with its conspiracy theorists. Look them up if you’re interested, but I’m most fascinated by the anti-Malala rhetoric being produced in Pakistan or by Pakistanis outside of the country. Believe it – there are humans (Pakistanis) with plenty of time on their hands to hate a teenager with passion, manipulate her story, and mislead other fellow Pakistanis.
It’s not all, I know–it’s never all. And there are many articles already in existence taking issue with the claim that “Pakistanis” hate Malala. Take this article, for example: Actually, All Pakistanis Don’t Hate Malala (because saying “Pakistanis” hate Malala obviously = “All Pakistanis hate Malala”). But the fact is that way too many Pakistanis do hate her; check out the comment section on literally any article on Malala, whether by the haters or by the lovers or by the indifferent; check the comments under this one out, for example: You can’t keep her down! Vote Malala for Pakistani PM. Or check out the many Facebook groups created with names like “we hate Malala.” Orr literally just google “Malala haters” or “why do some people hate Malala” or something.
Now I’m not sure if “hate” is the right word here; I don’t believe in this kind of hate, and I really don’t think her opponents actually hate her. I’m trying to figure out what exactly it is about so many Pakistanis, perhaps something of the nature of Pakistan itself, that makes it hate its own heroes.
For some time, I thought maybe it’s because Malala is Pashtun. Pakistan discriminates against Pashtuns on every level possible; this can be seen in the kinds of stuff Pashtuns are taught in schools about Pashtun poets and scholars and intellectuals (hint: NOTHING! They’re not taught about them – the rare times they are is to say things like “Badshah Khan was a traitor to Pakistan”; it’s no surprise that most Pashtuns hate their own historical leaders like Badshah Khan and his son Ghani Khan, and are taught to hate Afghanistan in the name of patriotism) as well as in the kind of infrastructure available to Pashtuns in Pakistan. You can read more here about how Pakistan’s misleading Pashtuns through its educational system.
But then I realized it couldn’t be about her ethnicity because so many Pashtuns hate her just as much as many of the rest of Pakistanis do.
We even have people saying, according to their comments in internet articles praising Malala, that she has no right to call herself a Pashtun and that she should prioritize her identity as a Pakistani instead of being Pashtun. I have to LOL at this. Not uncommon—I get told frequently by Pakistani readers that I shouldn’t highlight my being Pashtun as much as I do on my blog because in Pakistan, we’re all equal. Equal my foot. I’m a Pashtun, Malala is a Pashtun, and that’s our most important identity, besides our gendered identity as women, because it’s something we’re reminded of every minute of our lives living in Pakistan. We’re Pashtun. Suck it.
Jealousy and resentment?
I really don’t think this is it. This is too simplistic a reason for such a large number of people to hate another individual. I mean, maybe ten, eighty random individuals could hate her because they just envy her, her fame, her power, but people who are probably in thousands, if not millions? I can’t imagine jealousy being the issue.
That said, our society does teach us to be competitive and want whatever someone else has instead of appreciating what we have and being happy for especially those of our own when they make it big. Here’s a girl form a village in one of the most marginalized parts of Pakistan who becomes an international icon, a household name, basically overnight (seriously, hardly anyone knew her before her shooting in October 2012). So it’s possible that people are thinking, “Why couldn’t it be me/my daughter?” But this is something most societies have to deal with, so it doesn’t really explain much about the Malala-hating losers.
Is it the desperate, oppressive state of the people of Pakistan?
I agree with Josh Shahryar that the resentment and hatred towards Malala has much to do with the desperate state of Pakistan. I’ll quote him here:
It’s hard to be living in a country where landowners are crushing peasants. The police is crushing the victim. The court is crushing the constitution. The government is crushing the constituents. The army is crushing the government. That’s been Pakistan’s case for decades. Recently, though, there’s a new player in town: the terrorists. And they are crushing everyone.
Under these circumstances, the common Pakistani – the aam aadmi – finds himself utterly powerless. What good is hard work when you can’t feed your kids? What good is feeding them when you can’t send them to school? What good is school when there are so few jobs? What good is a job when there’s no financial security? What good is financial security when there’s no physical security?
It’s a hopeless circle of misery.
The only thing is, so many other countries are suffering in similar ways to Pakistan, yet we see nothing but love and support for Malala and her cause from the people of those countries. Take Afghanistan, for example, which is a good case to consider because many Pashtuns in Pakistan resent Malala but those in Afghanistan don’t.
But here’s how the Malala-hating gang works, okay. These are seriously some of the most ridiculous things–conspiracy theories–I’ve ever heard. But if there’s ever a Nobel Prize for the best, most creative conspiracy theories, Pakistan should be its sole recipient. (I say this while having been born and raised for half of my life in Swat, Pakistan, so obviously no offense intended towards Pakistanis. I don’t care if the hateful ones get offended, though.)
1. “Malala is backed by Zionists!” Or: “Malala is an Israeli clone of Bush raised by RAW agents”
I know – LOLzuna at connecting Malala with Israel. But not surprising. In Pakistan, the hatred for Jews is so deep that anyone a Pakistani doesn’t like is automatically dismissed as someone employed by some Jewish agency somewhere, Israel in most cases. It’s happened to all the best folks from Pakistan, including Malala. (Check this article out about how her shooting was a “Zionist plot” – it’s so amusing I can’t decide whether to laugh or cry.)
Check out this video about it as well.
Yeah. I can only stare at this. Because whatevz.
3. “Malala is anti-Islam and anti-Pakistan!”(Her book is banned in Pakistani private schools because of its supposed “anti-Islam” and “anti-Pakistan” content. You may roll on the floor laughing your ass off.)
The same Pakistanis who hate Malala also accuse her of being an anti-Pakistan and an anti-Islam agent of the West. Oh, believe it! There are humans out there who think Malala is out to attack Islam and Pakistan. (The last bit, I really don’t care about, but I’ll talk about it anyway.) This girl has yet to represent Pakistan or Islam or Muslims in a negative light, and yet she’s out to attack both, we’re told. She’s identified herself as a Pakistani and is constantly discussing ways to help Pakistan. She even included Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Pakistan’s founder (who actually wasn’t that good of a human after all, but more on that another time), in her list of role models at the UN speech, where, by the way, she also wore the shawl of Benazir Bhutto. So I don’t know what exactly is anti-Pakistani about her. Is it that she acknowledges that Pakistan has problems? I can imagine that being the problem – few people like to hear that their countries have problems that need to be solved. It’s the whole “stop airing our dirty laundry to the world” mantra BS. If the people complaining about her would just do their laundry on time, there’d be nothing to air to the world, no?
As for her being anti-Islam, I cannot figure this out at all. The girl dresses the way most traditionalist Muslims (and especially all hypocrites) expect women to do so, being the carriers and representatives of Islam and all. She’s covered head to toe wherever she goes and hasn’t once appeared wearing western clothing, which proves she’s a real Muslimah (sarcasm here, folks. Nothing at all wrong if she ever does choose to wear something other than traditional Pakistani clothing—but a lot of Muslims, Pakistanis, would go crazy if she did!). Besides, she starts every speech with the basmalah (Bismillah al-rahmaan al-raheem), in the name of God, most merciful, most beneficent. She gives all credit to God for all her accomplishments and fame. She is all for peace and makes it a point to tell the world that her quest for peace is actually a part of her religion, Islam.
But that’s just another thing Pakistan does to people inside it that it doesn’t like for no reason; for them, any individual who gains fame in the west must be some western puppet. Don’t get me wrong – I hate how the west has highjacked Malala’s story and is using it left and wrong for its own vested interests; but that doesn’t make Malala or he story any less important because she’s not the problem. The problems are 1) the way the west portrays especially Muslim women heroines as poor innocent victims of their religions and cultures who must be supported and loved and promoted by the west, 2) the system in Pakistan that gave birth and importance Malala and many others like her, and 3) those who hate her for reasons no one can explain as yet.
4. “Are drone victims less worthy than Malala?”
I doubt this is actually an issue. I question the sincerity of the people claiming that Malala matters no more than the drone victims killed by the U.S. because no one ever talked about drone victims before Malala earned the international spotlight. So, no, it’s not because Pakistanis actually give a cow’s dung about the lives of innocent humans killed by drones.
Even so, drone victims matter and Malala matters. We can fight for the full humanity of drone victims and demand that they receive care and attention without taking it away from Malala. A drone victim’s loss and sufferings don’t negate Malala’s.
5. “What’s Malala gonna do with all that money she’s earning, huh?! HUH???”
First of all, that’s her business. She’s the one who’s earning it, and she gets to choose herself whatever she wants to do with it. But for the record, she’s donated prize money she earned through World Children’s Prize award to Palestine, even though, as a friend pointed out to me recently, no Palestinian would ever do that for Pashtuns (because most humans around the world don’t even know Pashtuns exist, let alone the troubles they’re facing). Malala isn’t responsible for the rest of the world and its problems or poverty, and let’s stop expecting a child under the age of twenty, or any one individual, to solve the problems created by warmongers and corrupt political regimes and societies.
6. “Malala says President Obama is her role model! Now we know who she really is!”
Yeah? What’s wrong with that? She said that when she was, what, fourteen years old and probably wasn’t aware of the evils that Obama has committed and continues to commit in the name of politics. Even if she was aware of it, why can’t she have her role models when your and mine also have serious flaws? But, seriously, to hate a person because of their role models or who may once have been their role models … that’s just dumb.
P.S. It may be just one tweet from one individual with a couple of responses supporting his stance, but this whole “Malala loves Obama” is a conversation that takes place frequently among her haters.
7. “Why doesn’t she talk about drones, huh?!”
Because, for God’s sake, it’s not her job to fix US-Pakistan relations or to solve the drone issues! Why is she suddenly responsible for stopping all wars and converting the hells of the world into heavens? But for the record, she did talk about drones with President Obama during the dinner she had with him and his family last year; she told Obama that drones fuel terrorism: “I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people,” she’s quoted as having said.
8. “YEAH?! Well, What about Dr. Afia Siddiqui? HUH?! WHAT ABOUT HER?!?!”
For those who are not familiar with the Aafia Siddiqui case, here’s an article that lays out two different, opposing versions of her story–because Pakistan thinks she’s a hero, and the U.S. thinks she’s a terrorist (she’s dubbed Lady Al-Qaeda) and is currently a political prisoner in America.
Malala-hating Pakistanis believe that Aafia, not Malala, should be celebrated. They claim that Malala is anti-Islam and that’s why the West loves her so much, while Aafia is a staunch devotee of Islam and that’s why the West hates her so much.
So why do so many Pakistanis hate her? I don’t know what to tell y’all, folks, because I really don’t know why. But it’s sad. She’s a promoter of love and peace, and here are people hating her. And no one other than her own.
Everytime I see RAW/MOSSAD/CIA I have an automatic reflex to roll my eyes:- my ex fiance was constantly on about RAW in particular meh. It is really sad to see this because Malala’s prize, her story is a beautiful struggle that is awe- inspiring and it makes me reflect on the status of Pakistan’s heart, yes heart if there is so much angst over this. Is there an answer to this question, I don’t know. And yes, I remember seeing all of this stuff on Facebook before I deleted my account and was thinking that with all that energy wasted on vilifying a young girl when there is so much work to do to improve the lives of people living around them. Also was astounded at how many non- Pakistani ‘friends’ of the posts threw in their support. Great post about a great question.
Exactly! Thank you! Instead of wasting all that energy hating an individual, why not work for your community and yourself and bring some good where it’s desperately needed?
Thank you for reading and responding, DL! 🙂