Malala not Pakistan’s only hero, locals say as Nobel winner’s return sparks mixed reactions

BK Online Srinagar
March 30, 2018 BREAKING NEWS 164 Views
Malala not Pakistan’s only hero, locals say as Nobel winner’s return sparks mixed reactions

United Nations Messenger of Peace and Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai is on a four-day visit to her hometown in Pakistan. The visit is her first homecoming since the year 2012, when Taliban gunmen shot her in an attack on a school van in Swat, Khyber Pukhtunkhwa.
Malala’s address to the media during her welcome ceremony at the Prime Minister’s house in Islamabad was surrounded by strong emotions as the 20-year-old burst into tears saying, “I still cannot believe I am in Pakistan.”
While the entire of Pakistan has been flooding social media with welcome messages in appreciation and honour of Malala, hailing her advocacy for global education and promoting the same for girls through the Malala Foundation, many of her countrymen have a different and complicated view of her as a person and her motives.
Till date, many criticize and question Malala’s decision to leave the country along with her family.
“It felt like a champion was returning to Pakistan on Thursday. Malala Yousafzai has undoubtedly brought pride to Pakistan by bringing up child education and girl’s education issues. But she is not the only champion. There are many more such champions, who were shot by terrorists and survived. They did not leave Pakistan. They did not go from country to country and spread the negative image of Pakistan. It should not be forgotten that the place (Swat) of which Malala defines as hell for girl education, she herself was studying in the same area and was writing journals for New York Times (sic),” said a local resident of Swat, Malala’s hometown.
“We welcome Malala Yousafzai to Pakistan. But she is in no way bigger or better than Ghazi Waleed Khan, the brave boy who was shot with 8 bullets by Taliban terrorists during the Army Public School (APS) attack. He is a bigger hero for us because not only does Waleed live in Pakistan, he goes to the same school. The boy is a much bigger pride for Pakistan than Malala,” said local businessman from Islamabad.
There are many who also take Malala as a willing or unwilling stooge of the West to not only start a military offensive but also to bring disrepute to Pakistan.
“What happened to Malala in 2012 cannot be justified by anyone. We also condemn it. But has anyone given attention to what happened in Swat after that. How many innocent children, men and women were killed in the name of military operation against the terrorists? Not in hundreds but in thousands are the figures of people killed and hidden under collateral damage. Malala went abroad and gained global recognition but left behind miseries and bloodshed for the people of her own hometown,” said a resident of Swat, whose family was among the victims of the Swat military operation.
Some have even gone to the extent of declaring Malala as part of an international agenda to malign Pakistan.
“Pakistan is her home and if she has come home we welcome her, but we think that she has come as part of international agenda to malign Pakistan and we strongly condemn that,” maintained Kashif Mirza, president of All Pakistan Private Schools Federation, an association representing some 200,000 schools in an interview with AFP.
“No one hates Malala. We hate the mindset working behind her. There are thousands of girls and boys who stayed back in Pakistan and fought out TTP unlike Malala,” wrote Riz Khan.
Malala’s visit to Pakistan is also surrounded by questions and confusion from day one. Malala visit is surrounded with zero information of her schedule of meetings and engagements in Pakistan.
The only information shared was of her meeting with the Prme Minsiter Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as the PM house yesterday. But later it was revealed that Malala is going to be addressing media and public also.
Many of the journalists, rights activists and dignitaries present during yesterday’s ceremony were not aware of the event and if they were going to attend it. It was at the last hour that they were notified to come to the PM’s house.
Women rights activist Nighat Dad was among the attendees of the ceremony. She said she and a group of other feminists from across Pakistan had gathered in Islamabad on the directives of Oscar-winning director Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, whom they say was the organizer of the whole event at the PM house.
“We were not told if we would be meeting Malala until the last moment. Sharmeen Chinoy said it’ll be the highlight of the year. She was right,” said Nighat.
Malala’s schedule on Friday was unclear and so is her ongoing schedule of meetings and travels, if any.
There were some speculation over her visit to Swat, her hometown and the place where she was shot. A school was recently built in the same area through Malala’s Noble prize money.
Some also say that Malala might not leave Serene Hotel Islamabad, the hotel where she is staying with her family and that all her engagements will be done within the hotel premises.
However, with all the confusion and uncertainty spread across Malala’s homecoming visit due to shrouded security measures and mixed reactions, her visit is being seen positively and appreciated by locals at large.

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