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The Wages Of Fame

As if in reaction to her global renown, some in Pakistan revile Malala

The Wages Of Fame
AFP (From Outlook 28 October 2013)
The Wages Of Fame
outlookindia.com
2016-02-17T12:33:05+05:30

On October 9, 2012, armed Tehreek-e-Taliban men stopped a school van in Swat, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, carrying schoolgirls. “Who is Malala?” they barked. Once the girl was identified, one of them aimed a gun at her head and fired point blank. A year later, on October 8, 2013, having survived miraculously, the teenage schoolgirl rose to reply, “I am Malala”. Here she was, dressed defiantly in red chadar, on the cover of her recently released autobiography. As I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot by the Taliban flies off boo­kshelves here, and seemingly undeterred by all the revulsion they have attracted for their shameful act (albeit one amongst many), the Taliban have announced that they would attack all stores selling the book.

It’s been a curious rollercoaster. Last year, it was an anthemic slogan—“I am Malala, we are all Malala”—that reso­u­n­ded around the country in waves of ind­ignation, as outraged Pakistanis rallied around her, with prayers for her reco­very and candle-lit vigils. As she came out of hospital in Birmingham in January, even she acknowledged, with wisdom beyond her years: “As Malala fell, Pak­istan rose. Everyone said, ‘I am Malala’, no one said, ‘I am Taliban’.” Today, the 16-year-old Pakhtun girl from the restive Swat valley, who refused to be cowed down by Tal­iban edicts that proscribed  girls’ education, is battling a conflicted ‘reaction to a reaction’ from her compatriots.

For, in the first few months, she was swept up by a global adulation factory. It see­med the West was reacting as if Malala Yousufzai was their icon—a situation that would have seemed farcical for her admirers looking on bemusedly from...

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