We Must Stand with Malala


The Pakistani blogosphere is abuzz with news of Malala Yousafzai and as usual the very cowards who had attempted to silence her voice through their contracted murderers and their minions are also out in force to fight the “threat” posed by this teen age “menace”


That the Taliban and their ilk inhabit the most precarious kind of masculinity is as obvious as sunlight: it’s the kind of masculinity that depends upon an extreme silencing of all things woman and even a glance from a woman can shatter it. Coming from a place like this, it is no wonder that the Taliban and their Wahabi masters can only declare the world a safe place for men if all the women were covered, hidden, and walled up.


It is now being suggested that Malala Yousafzai is a product of the West and hence not worthy of our trust, admiration, and support. That this charge comes mostly from those whose sheer existence depends on this so-called West is pretty obvious. I mean even for the Taliban who are not on western payroll, the West is a necessity: Don’t they fight their so-called Jihad using the weapons, explosives, and technologies developed by the West. Let us list the western (infidel-produced) technologies that they use to perpetuate their hateful message and to destroy Muslim lives:

Cellular Phones: used for communicational and bomb activation devices.

Cameras to produce their propaganda videos and pictures.

The Internet.

Weapons and explosives (all produced in the West)

Western medicine from common pills to surgical procedures.

Battlefield equipment including clothing.

TV and Video players and air-conditioning (Remember the air-conditioned caves!)


So, it seems that the Taliban and their sympathizers have no qualms about using Western commodities and technologies to continue their version of the destruction of the world. Of course, their Ulama have declared it permissible as all these things are necessary to conduct Jihad against all the infidel forces and what could be better than using the tools of your enemy to fight the enemy.


It is also evident that in the field of Islamic jurisprudence, the most innovation has occurred in justifying Jihad. Thus, Takfeer has now been expanded to include even those who may not be hostile to you but who may not be sanguine enough to your cause. And within that logic, for the Pakistani Taliban, it was deemed aptly moral and, probably sacred, to send out two assassins to kill a fourteen-year old girl. And that this girl was shot in the head at point blank range by these “warriors” of Islam is also a fact. In what interpretation of Islam is this a noble act? And if I know my Pashtun culture correctly, what Pashtun will ever send out assassins to shoot and kill the daugthers of their enemies? No, but for Taliban, killing women and children has now been exalted to sacred acts.


So, when Malala, after having been shot and after having recovered through the technological advances of Western medicine, attempts to use the vocabularies of resistance used in the west and to reach for support on a global scale, it is somehow un-Islamic! In other words, it is fine to use the destructive powers of Western technology but, somehow, the very liberating ideas that make the West the West are still too contaminating to handle.


This trope of a westernized woman as a traitor to her primary culture did not develop today: in fact, pretty much all anticolonial movements relied on the image of the “pure” woman in opposition to the caricatures of the Westernized native women. Partha Chatterjee eloquently discusses this within the context of Indian national politics in his book Nation and its Fragments (Princeton 1993).


And now as Malala has mobilized the biggest tradgey in her life to do more than what any of us could accomplish in a whole lifetime, she is suddenly being labeled a sell-out and a “western stooge”. So, what has Malla done to deserve these e epithets?


Made the women’s education one of her major causes.

Criticized Taliban for their atrocities.

Spoken well of some of the western figures, such as president Obama.

Used her global recognition to change things.


That the tragedy of her attempted murder created a global web of sympathy for this teenager from the mountains of Pakistan is no secret. That she has used this world renown to further the cause of others, and to promote her regional vision to a global support system is not only commendable but also essential. We cannot change the world alone: we must reach out and build global solidarities to change local conditions: this is the first rule of current forms of resistance to global imperatives and Malala, it seems, understands that.


Her enemies, the Taliban, have always understood it and have relied on global alliances of terroristic networks to perpetuate their hate across Pakistan and elsewhere. So, when they use their Western weapons, drug money, and Western technologies, it is somehow justified, but when Malala uses the global connections constructed out of a tragedy, then that, somehow, is not worthy of our respect.

Of course, part of this new attack on Malala is simple to understand: if one young girl can rise up to challenge the Taliban vision of Pakistan, then would it not, if the idea catches on,  mount a massive popular challenge to the Taliban. For Taliban to exist and to perpetuate their death world vision, the necessary conditions of creating this death world must be maintained. Malala, as a symbol, through her courageous stance proves to us that hope and courage is the ultimate weapon that will vanquish the darkness that happens to be the promising reality of a Talibanistic Pakistan. And this possibility of change, a change that convinces the weakest amongst us of our importance in fight against darkness is what threatens the fragile masculinity of the Taliban.


 So, let us stop playing their game. Let us stand together and declare once and for all that we are with Malala Yousafzai and no amount of propaganda about her supporters and her motives would convince us otherwise!


By M R

Originally from Pakistan, Dr. Masood Ashraf Raja is an Associate Professor of Postcolonial Literature and Theory and the editor of Pakistaniaat: A Journal of Pakistan Studies.
Raja tweets @masoodraja

2 replies on “We Must Stand with Malala”

And it is not only the western technologies and weapons that necessitate the existence of west for the taliban, rather it is the existence of west as an ideological paradigm against which they measure and justify their existence. It gives meaning to their existence just as, in the past, USSR and US used each other’s existence to define and justify their policies and measures.

Leave a Reply to raza Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.