Pakistani political analyst Shiraz Paracha argues that Malala Yousafzai, who returned to Pakistan this week five years after being shot by the Taliban, is both a symbol of hope and resistance as well as a product of Western propaganda.
Pakistan is an extremely polarized society where people tend to believe in the finality of their beliefs, views and political positions. They easily take fortified positions and don’t tolerate disagreement, criticism and diversity.
Be it Malala’s arrival in Pakistan, the Panama issue, civil-military relations or the very purpose of Pakistan and even life, we like to fight over everything.
This mindset is developed as a result of flawed social, political and educational discourses that are designed to keep people confused and restricted from having deeper awareness, understanding and knowledge.
Absence of self-criticism, soul searching and critical and logical thinking, and lack of empathy have given birth to questionable ideas and perceptions that people defend very strongly.
This tendency causes frictions and conflicts that lead to intolerance, division and blind hatred. Consequently, society is at war with itself where trivial issues suddenly become a matter of life and death. Ironically, people quickly forget one controversy and move on to fight over another.
Polarisarion over Malala
Squabbles over Malala’s return to Pakistan are a manifestation of the above-mentioned polarisation in Pakistan’s turbulent society.
Some faithful Pakistanis, who are deeply influenced by Pakistan study courses, see Malala as a representative of the evil West and anti-Muslim/Pakistan forces. At the other end of the polarised political spectrum, many are trying to present Malala as a symbol of pride and beacon of hope and resistance. The second group is termed as “liberals.”
Many Pakistanis have become liberals in reaction to the state’s strategic policies. During the past four decades, the Pakistani establishment has imposed ultra-conservative social and political discourses upon society and restricted freedom of thought.
Among the liberals some naively believe that the West is about goodness, human dignity and respect and freedoms. In Malala, they see an example of Western goodness and humanity.
There is yet another section of liberals who are part of Western propaganda and political designs and serve the “White Saviour” complex.
Condemning and blaming Malala is absolutely wrong and unethical. She survived a brutal attack at a very young age. However, it is also important to understand why Malala has become the darling of the West and why the same powers and forces which imposed unnecessary wars and caused death and destruction in the world are now sponsoring Malala Yousafzai.
Malala was a child when she became part of a BBC news campaign. The BBC is a reputed international news organisation with tremendous credibility. However, this organisation (particularly the BBC World Service) protects and promotes the British foreign policy agenda. Therefore Malala’s introduction through the BBC couldn’t be a simple journalistic novelty.
The reporter who had introduced Malala to the BBC was a credible and dedicated professional. He did his job honestly and came up with an innovative idea that clicked. As a student of media and someone who has observed the BBC for years and was part of it for some time, I can say with confidence that the publication of Malala diaries under “Gul Makai’s” name fitted perfectly well with the BBC’s wider agenda of influencing public opinion in foreign countries.
Secondly, the main character in this very interesting story is not Malala; she was just a child. The real person behind the tale was Malala’s father, Mr. Zia-u-Din. He saw the diaries as an opportunity for sharing new perspectives on the situation in Swat and perhaps used it intelligently for expanding his own network of contacts.
Capitalist propaganda machine
The deadly attack on Malala was real. Malala had become a target because she advocated female education, which was a very challenging concept for those who wanted to impose their will upon the people of Swat during those days.
Most of us believe that ours is the right way but when challenged often we get provoked and react, sometimes violently. The ugly attack on Malala happened because some people couldn’t accept that a school going female child had challenged their self-rightness so boldly. Therefore Malala was a genuine victim and deserved support and protection. However, her shifting to the UK and the story afterwards is more complex and requires some deeper analysis.
The capitalist propaganda machine always needs heroes and villains for its wars and mind games. Capitalists use several pre-propaganda and direct propaganda techniques to create images and build perceptions. During and after the Second World War, the Western propaganda machine relentlessly demonised Adolf Hitler. Charlie Chaplin’s entertainment movies actually ridiculed and humiliated Hitler by portraying him as an idiot.
The West used similar negative propaganda campaigns against others. For example, the most successful Soviet leader Joseph Stalin was presented as an evil murderer and the biggest threat to humanity. Cuban leader Fidel Castro, China’s Chairman Mao Zedong and many others were targeted because they all threatened Capitalist or Anglo-Saxon hegemony.
Also in propaganda wars, often an enemy is presented as bigger and dangerous threat than it actually is. In recent history, Serbian President Slobodan Milosevic, Osama Bin Laden, Saddam Hussian, Muammar Gaddafi, the 1979 Iranian Revolution were cases where Western governments and media propaganda machines used the “exaggerated threat” technique.
The actual aim of those propaganda campaigns was to pave the way for occupation and the disintegration of foreign countries to reshape the Geo-Strategic map. In doing so, Western Capitalist democracies wanted control of energy sources and trade routes.
For the last 18 years, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been a target of Western Capitalist democracies and their allied Zionist media because Putin has refused to accept dictation and the New World Order. Now NATO countries have expelled Russian diplomats following Putin’s convincing victory in the Russian Presidential Election that took place earlier this month. They are also trying to sabotage the Football World Cup that is due to be held in Russia in June 2018. This mega event will boost Russia image and economy but its disruption will hurt Russia’s economy and credibility.
Only two Soviet persons were given the Nobel Prize for Peace – one had stood up against the Soviet Government and the other had dissolved the Soviet Union. So Nobel Prizes for Peace were awarded for political reasons and propaganda purposes. Former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger was notorious for bringing instability in foreign lands; his policies caused conflicts and thousands of deaths. Yet Kissinger was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1973 on the ashes of Vietnam.
One the one hand, Neo-Cons and Neo-Liberals create death and destruction for profit, on the other, they use positive images, stories and celebrities to sell the humanitarian face of war-mongers. The media, including Hollywood and international organisations also play a role in PR and propaganda wars.
Western states make money by making wars and even more money by rebuilding the countries they destroy.
I see Malala’s international recognition in this context. She is one more story which the Western propaganda machine is selling to show the White Man in a positive light. The United Nations, NATO and other international forums are part of the brand promotion.
A former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown is a war-monger as he was an architect of the 2003 Iraq War. He has blood on his hands. His Iraq war killed millions of innocent people and destabilised the world. But when Gordon Brown stepped down as Prime Minister, he was appointed the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education. Soon he became a promoter and sponsor of Malala as she was also appointed as UN Ambassador for Peace and she, too, works in the education sector.
Since 1945, the UN is working for the promotion of education, health and human rights but in developing countries no fundamental change has occurred due to the UN initiatives. In fact, the UN is a white elephant that consumes huge resources but is no more than a debating club and an organisation that does cosmetic work. It couldn’t stop wars, genocides or conflicts.
The point is that we should understand the full context and be aware of all aspects of any policy, situation, event, development before supporting or opposing a cause, person or programme. Opposing Malala because of her identity, origin or aims is inappropriate. But a full comprehension of the situation in which she exits and operates is crucial.
Malala is not one being – she is two persons. One is representing the Western propaganda machine, the other is a genuine legitimate symbol of resistance against ignorance, violence and extremism.
In future she might have two clear options. By living and learning in the West and by observing the policies and agendas of her Western mentors, young Malala might be able to see the true face of her masters. Then she will have a choice to follow the footsteps of Nelson Mandela and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, or become Aung San Suu Kyi of Burma or Begam Rana Liaqat Ali Khan of Pakistan.