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Ali & Huda TV.

Malala, a Hero or a Villain?

KARACHI – Malala Yusufzai, the youngest Nobel Prize winner, has turned out to be a hero and a villain simultaneously in her home country, praised by secular media and politicians and criticized by people who see her as a tool used by the west.

“You have raised our heads with pride,” President Mamnoon Hussein Hussein said in a statement as soon as the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced the names of Malala, and Indian child rights campaigner Kailash Satyarthi as winners of 2014 Noble Prize.

Malala is the second ever Pakistani who have received this prize. Dr Abdul Salam was the first Pakistani awarded with Noble Prize in 1979 in Physics.

President Hussein came at the top of those who praised Malala’s Nobel Award, joining his country’s secular media, politicians, human rights activists, and artists who showered praise on the young activist.

Yet, many Pakistanis on the streets dubbed her as a tool being used by the West to malign Islam and Pakistan.

Hussein termed the Nobel Prize for Malala a matter of pride for Pakistan. “The entire nation is jubilant over this news,” Hussein added.

Former President and co-chairman of main opposition Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Asiz Ali Zardari dubbed Malala as pride of Pakistan.

“This is a wonderful news for Pakistanis. You really deserved that Malala,” he said adding that Noble Prize for Malala was victory of her cause.

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the PPP chairman tweeted “Malala, the daughter of Pakistan, and the ambassador of peace, we are proud of you.”

“Malala, a national hero, long live Pakistan.”

Malala rose to fame in 2009 for her anti-Taliban blog billed as “Gul Makai (cornflower) for the BBC against Taliban when she was merely 11.  However, many believe that her diaries were written by her father, Ziauddin an owner and principal of the school where Malala would study, in collaboration with the then BBC Urdu Service Bureau Chief.

Malal’s autobiography “I am Malala”  earned fame worldwide, however was struck in controversy in Malala’s  homeland with many dubbing her as a tool being exploited by the West to malign Islam and Pakistan under the guise of Taliban, is written by British Christina Lamb.

Quiet Streets

Film director, Sharmeen Obaid Chenoy, who won the first Oscar award for Pakistan in 2012, said that recognition of Malal’s struggle for girl’s education rights, would be an inspiration for Pakistani girls.

“The entire nation should celebrate this,” Sharmeen tweeted.

However, Contrary to Sharmeen’s expectations and hype on electronic and social media, things are totally different in her hometown Swat, where Malala is largely seen as a “tool” being used by the West to “malign Islam and Pakistan”.

“What she has done for education and peace in Swat,” asked Shahzad Alam, a resident of Mingora, the capital of the scenic valley-once the stronghold of Taliban.

“We don’t care what she has got. What we know is that she has accumulated millions of dollars for her education fund (Malala education fund), but nothing has been spent for education in Swat,” he claimed referring to an education fund set up by Malala for promotion of education in Pakistan, especially in her hometown Swat.

Shahzad said that only 100 students, who too had not been selected on merit, were given admission to Malala’s father’s school in Mingora in last two years.

These children are being given Rs 3000 (30 dollars) per month out of millions of dollars she had accumulated, he said.

He charged that Malala education fund was being utilized only for Khushal School owned by her father.

“She had announced to set up a girls college in Swat last year but not even a single brick has been placed for that,” he added.

A local journalist wishing not to be named said that he had to work hard to get comments from common people in favor of Malala for his TV channel.

“I was asked by my channel management to get comments in her favor, but believe me, I had to personally request my friends to give some favorable comments to save my job,” the journalist said in a lighter vein.

Thousands of students protested last year when the district administration named a college in Saido Sharif town of Swat after Malala. The administration had to reverse its decision amid angry protests.

“She never voiced for education,” Saleem Ather, another Swati charged. “She would study in her father’s school like a queen. She never wrote the diaries (condemning Taliban), which are attributed to her”.

“It was his father who was anti-Taliban, and the BBC that needed some stuff against them (Taliban),” he claimed adding “I know her father for long time. He simply used Malala who was just 11 at that time,” he said.

“It was Taliban’s stupidity that rose her to fame otherwise she was doing nothing except going to school like a normal child following the ouster of Taliban from Swat,” he said.