Lal Khan is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and International Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. He can be reached at ptudc[at]hotmail.com.
Last year, on October 9, now world-famous Malala Yousafzai and two other schoolgirls were shot at in Swat. Miraculously, Malala survived this fatal attack but was severely injured in the head. She was rushed to a Peshawar hospital and later airlifted to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, Britain.
Recounting these nightmarish days in a hospital bed, away from her home and her parents, in her book, she says that she cried for the first time when her parents finally managed to arrive Birmingham and visited her: ‘It was as if all the weight had been lifted from my heart. I felt that everything would be fine now’. Malala was lucky to find timely help and survive. Meantime, global and sections of local media have catapulted her into an iconic status while strategically concealing her progressive background.
Veteran Indian journalists, Javed Naqvi, in his regular column for the Daily Dawn (25. 10. 2012) pointed it out: ‘There is evidence of a Marxist underpinning that runs the risk of being overlooked in the teenaged girl’s ideological shaping.A picture in which she is seen with a poster of Lenin and Trotsky should indicate her proximity to some of the most ideologically groomed bunch of men and women in Swat. They are members of the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), which condemns religious extremism and imperialism equally.We have been told of Malala’s blogs and interviews with global news groups, but her involvement with the Marxists of Swat (of all the places) tends to be ignored. Malala Yousafzai attended its National Marxist Youth School in Swat in July this year’.
The so-called ‘free’ media conveniently ignored what Mr Naqvi highlighted in his column. Malala’s father held progressive left-wing views. He was ideologically educated by Faiz Mohammad, Malala’s maternal uncle. Comrade Faiz Muhammad is a committed communist and has been struggling to organise the youth and the workers, in Swat and Malakand, against the fundamentalist as well as state repression.
Ironically, Gordon Brown, the former British Prime Minister, has become the cheer leader for the campaign for girls’ education in Pakistan. This right-wing Labour politician not only voted to invade Iraq but endorsed crimes against humanity committed by Bush and Blair. There are vested interested behind Brown’s support for Malala.
Brown’s policies, both as a Chancellor and Prime Minister, on health and education were hardly poor-friendly. However, he is only a mouthpiece for imperialist nations trying to capitalize Malala tragedy to camouflage violent campaigns to liquidate Third World children.
On the one hand, ruthless politicians are building soft image for themselves and their imperialist countries, on the other hand, discredited institutions and NGO in the service of imperialism[for instance, the UNO and its front organisations: UNICEF, WHO], playing an auxiliary role in promoting capitalism, have seized the opportunity to facelift their tarnished images.
Ironically, Malala started her struggle for education with a progressive aim. Her fight is now being appropriated by imperial institutions and individuals directly responsible for commodifying education. And this commodity is beyond the reach of working class children.
Malala has been awarded number of awards by imperialist institutions and governments. She is also a favourite for this year’s Noble for Peace prize [by the time, these lines will be posted, Noble Committee would have declared the winner].This is the same committee that awarded Nobel Peace Prize to Barak Obama. Under Obama’s rule, droning of Pashtoon hinterlands ferociously intensified, killing, among others, hundreds of children and innocents. Even the British Queen invited Malala to the Buckingham Palace! The Crown symbolizes the imperial Raj, colonial ‘Afghan Wars’ besides the Durand Line ripping apart Pashtoon nation.
As a matter of fact, imperialism has systematically denied education to more children than fundamentalists. With less than 2% of GDP spent on education, Pakistan has 25 million children out of schools. One in four of its primary school-age children – 6 million in total – are out of school. Around half of them drop out before the end of grade 3. Up to 10 million children are working in brick kilns, sweatshops or as domestic helpers in Pakistan.
Malala was a young girl when she attended a Marxist school in Swat. She was going through her formative phase, learning and drawing lessons from her personal experience in Swat. She had a thirst for new ideas. She was also embracing Marxism as a scientific tool to understand and fight back violence, repression and exploitation.
It is not clear yet if Malala and her family have indeed been won over by the imperial agents. There is, nonetheless, no doubt that this system cannot eliminate either the fundamentalist threat to girls’ educationor a healthy childhood for poor children.