Malala and Hazlenut Lattes December 9th 2014

Malala Yousafzai shook the world with her story of bravery and valor when she stood for female education and took a bullet to her head fighting for her cause. Months have passed and as the wounds of Malala’s injuries have been healing, so has the controversy surrounding her been mounting.

I remember visiting Pakistan watching various families in small villages enchanted by this young heroe’s stance. Vividly, I recall visiting a small village in Pind Dadhun Khan near the Khewra mountains, as a humble family huddled around the set watching the daily news. ‘See’ the mother said ‘Our Pakistan will never crumble..’

So it was somewhat a culture shock to see the same liberal Pakistanis that normally endorse the actions of the West calling her an agent for the British. The irony of these upper-class Pakistanis who jam to one direction and Maroon5 highlights the great confusion that Malala has brought.

One Pakistani studying in the UK slurs ‘Get rid of this filth, Malala is not Pakistani she’s British through and through.’ He does so from an account which has him posing by Big Ben.

The division and confusion has been plastered by the academic elite of Pakistan that are usually found crammed drinking hazlenut lattés in Gloria Jeans, murmuring a ‘Vow’ and ‘that is Amazing’ in there somewhat broken urdu. The bare-cheek hypocrisy has me cringing as they say she no longer remains a Pakistani. But in all honesty, their debate has no standing. Malala stood for education and it is as simple as that. By not endorsing Malala, do you endorse the middle ground of uncertainty and where does that lead us?

There is no denying that Malala has brought a global focus on education specifically towards Pakistan. For many, she is upholding the values of the true Pakistan and has become an ambassador for the thousands of children that are denied this right.

I was shocked to find that even people in Pakistan who are educated to a degree level are unaware of the education crisis Pakistan is in. Last year, a team from Jawaab attended the Pakistan Future Leader’s conference in Oxford  where many young Pakistani elites fought staunchly against the nationalisation of education fearing it may reduce the standards of the education they or their siblings would receive. The elitist fear of ‘education for all’ is stifled by a selfish and self-interested look that if education is made a necessity rather a luxury then the  ext step is the redundancy of their own privatised education. Yes in the future we want to see an abolishment of Privatised education. Every country should aspire that the public education is of the best standard removing the need for an alternative. But that’s a far away goal, it seems people don’t want to even take steps to introduce changes with fears of where the road may lead them. I believe, many manifest there fears of a progressive more educated Pakistan with hate towards Malala.

Malala’s story brings a national drive for education drive then I welcome it.

She will always be surrounded by controversy, but by banning her book - you not only loose the story of this amazing girl but Pakistan begins to restrict creative freedom like many other ‘Islamic’ states. As a result, Pakistan begins to loose its approach to creativity which is pertinent to its culture and tradition. I neither want to delve into the conservative arguements against her book because they neither have a reasonable islamic backing and to give them a platform would just be plain wrong.

Bring forward a credible argument against Malala, just because the west has unanimously supported her cause why should her stance be less significant. Granted there are thousand Malala’s struggling daily but Yousafzai allowed the debate to go global.

As Pakistanis we need to unite behind Malala’s cause not be divided by it.

Zain Haider Awan

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