Fatima Bhutto on Malala Yousafzai’s fearless and still-controversial memoir

Fatima Bhutto in The Guardian:

MalalaThough feted around the globe for her eloquence, intelligence and bravery, Malala is much maligned in Pakistan. The haters and conspiracy theorists would do well to read this book. Malala is certainly an ardent critic of the Taliban, but she also speaks passionately against America's drone warfare, the CIA's policy of funding jihadi movements, the violence and abductions carried out by the Pakistani military, feudalism, the barbarous Hudood laws, and even Raymond Davis, the CIA contractor who caused a diplomatic meltdown between America and Pakistan when he killed two Pakistanis in broad daylight in Lahore – “Even we schoolchildren know that ordinary diplomats don't drive around in unmarked cars carrying Glock pistols.” I Am Malala is as much Malala's father's story as it is his daughter's, and is a touching tribute to his quest to be educated and to build a model school. Malala writes of her father sitting late into the night, cooking and bagging popcorn to sell so that he would have extra income for his project. She quotes him on all matters – from the ban on The Satanic Verses to the environmental problems facing the Swat Valley – and teases him for his long-winded speeches.

Yet, even as Malala says she does not hate the man who shot her, here in Pakistan anger towards this ambitious young campaigner is as strong as ever. Amid the bile, there is a genuine concern that this extraordinary girl's courageous and articulate message will be colonised by one power or other for its own insidious agendas. She is young and the forces around her are strong and often sinister when it comes to their designs on the global south. There is a reason we know Malala's story but not that of Noor Aziz, eight years old when killed by a drone strike in Pakistan; Zayda Ali Mohammed Nasser, dead at seven from a drone strike in Yemen; or Abeer Qassim Hamza al Janabi, the 14-year-old girl raped and set on fire by US troops in Mahmudiyah, Iraq. “I wasn't thinking these people were humans,” one of the soldiers involved, Steven Green, said of his Iraqi victims. It will always be more convenient for the west to paint itself as more righteous, more civilised, than the people they occupy and kill. But now, Malala's fight should be ours too – more inclusion of women, remembrance of the many voiceless and unsung Malalas, and education for all.

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