Last week, October 9th, marked one year since the serene valley of Swat was suddenly overcome with pain and anguish at the bestial attack on Malala Yousafzai and other schoolgirls in the van taking them home as it rounded at an army checkpoint in the midst of a fundamentalist insurgency. Lal Khan of the Pakistani MarxistsThe Struggle discusses the wider politics behind these event and the hypocrisy of the subsequent media coverage.
Last week, October 9th, marked one year since the serene valley of Swat was suddenly overcome with pain and anguish at the bestial attack on Malala Yousafzai and other schoolgirls in the van taking them home as it rounded at an army checkpoint in the midst of a fundamentalist insurgency.
Malala was shot at close range in the head and in addition two other girls were similarly shot suffering serious injuries. Miraculously Malala survived this fatal attack but was left severely injured. It was a heinous crime that demands the severest condemnation and contempt on the part of every sane human being.
She was fortunate enough to have immediate help available and was initially lifted to a neurosurgery unit in a Peshawar hospital and then flown on to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, Britain. Recounting those harrowing 16 days totally on her own, lying in a hospital bed far away from her home and her parents in her book to be published in Britain, she says that she cried for the first time when her parents finally managed to arrive in Birmingham and visited her. She expressed her sentiments of the moment, “It was as if all the weight had been lifted from my heart. I felt that everything would be fine now.”
This undoubtedly provided a welcome respite to Malala but the conditions for young women and girls have continued to deteriorate and their repression in this tragic region goes on unabated. They are being subjected to regular brutalities, harassment and trauma on a daily basis. Hers was a gruesome tragedy inflicted on a fifteen year old girl who had braved these Islamic bigots who have wrought hell in Swat and are spilling blood and terror in an orgy of religious frenzy.
These forces of dark reaction are a reflection of the social malaise that has set in society as a result of the social economic decay and stagnation afflicting human existence. Contrary to the generalised propaganda and perception spread by the media in the West, these Islamic obscurantist vigilantes and their masters of political Islam do not have the mass support that is attributed to them.
However, these dark forces have a significant presence in the various Pakistani state institutions. It is the black money that nourishes the state institutions and they in turn provide sponsorship and financial assistance to these dark forces. This black capital dominates the country’s economy, politics and the state. However these forces are bent upon imposing “Islamic” ideology onto society in every area of public and private life. It is another form of neo-fascism that in reality is the distilled essence of the rottenness of Pakistani capitalist system. Exploiting the present general demoralisation and inertia amongst the masses, this reactionary state and its institutions are fomenting divisions, whether it is Sunni versus Shia or Muslim versus Christian/Qadiani, and in the process are aggressively promoting the official imposition of religion, from the syllabi in the education system to the social and cultural norms of society. This phenomenon also indicates the reactionary and retrogressive character of Pakistan’s ruling classes, who nurture religious prejudices, to drive a wedge into the class unity of the toilers.
Malala’s attack has had unprecedented media coverage. However, the corporate media has been very cautious to paint a picture according to the interests and the strategies of the ruling elites nationally and more so internationally.
There is a stark and conscious concealment of the background of Malala, ensuring that it does not in any way contravene the story that the bosses’ media have been trying to tailor the case in accord with the policy needs of imperialism. One of the most revered and veteran Indian journalists Javed Naqvi pointed this out in one of Pakistan’s largest English language newspapers.
On 25th October 2012 he wrote:
“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 suppressed this background of Malala’s so that the youth and the workers remain oblivious of this aspect of the brave girl’s struggle. Malala’s father was a progressive left winger and he was ideologically educated by Faiz Mohammad, Malala’s maternal uncle who is a communist and has been struggling to unite the youth and the toilers of Swat and Malakand to not only fight these reactionary fundamentalist terrorists but also against the forces of state repression and the exploitative system as a whole.
Gordon Brown, the former British Prime Minister, has become the cheer leader of the campaign for education girls in Pakistan and for so-called Millennium Development goals of providing education to girls in the developing world. This right-wing labour politician is someone who not only voted to invade Iraq but provided a massive influx of emergency funds for this illegal war and endorsed crimes against humanity committed by Bush and Blair. There are vested interested behind Brown’s manoeuvers. He is an arch-supporter of capitalism and an economist who was ignominiously claiming in 2007 that capitalism had overcome its cycle of booms and slums and was treading on a path of permanent growth. This was just about a year before the greatest crash of capitalism in its history in 2008, forcing this prophet of never ending capitalist boom to even contemplate sending British troops onto British streets to control the anger of workers and youth and provide protection to international finance capital and capitalism. Brown’s policies both as a Chancellor and Prime Minister on health and education were based on trickledown economics, which means that the state’s role in education and other social sectors should be seriously diminished.
Western imperialist nations have all gone into to full gear in capitalizing on Malala’s tragedy to camouflage the campaign of mass killing of children, women and the elderly in illegal wars and the use of illegal drones across the world or, to be more precise, in Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Syria, Pakistan, etc. This is a deliberate and calculated strategy on the one hand to dupe the working masses in the western world and on the other to enhance their policies of privatisation and promotion of NGO’s and other reformist organizations’ in Pakistan and the developing world to foster a culture of acceptance of capitalism – a system that is devastating society as a whole.
Institutions like the UN, and its many front organisations like UNICEF, WHO and many others, are playing an auxiliary role in promoting capitalism. Individual celebrities from Bill Clinton to Noreena Hertz to Angelina Jolie are using terms like “Humane Capitalism” and a “third way”. It is so ironic that Malala who had started this struggle for education on a class basis is now being appropriated by these institutions and individuals who through their decorative smiles and pious gestures are perpetuating a system that is directly responsible for depriving the children of the oppressed and in the process are embarking on a road of making education a commodity for lucrative profit that can only been afforded by those who have the money.
Malala has been showered with innumerable awards by western imperialist institutions and governments. She is also a favourite for this year’s Nobel Prize. This is the same Scandinavian committee, notorious for its hypocrisy, which awarded the Nobel Peace Prize to Barak Obama who has been responsible for mass atrocities in Iraq and Afghanistan. Under Obama’s rule the drone attacks on Malala’s own Pushtoons in the borderlands of Pakistan and Afghanistan have ferociously intensified killing hundreds, if not thousands of girls, women and children and innocents. This speaks volumes about the reality of the “Nobel Prize” so much espoused by the media.
Now, lo and behold, the Queen is inviting Malala to Buckingham Palace! This Crown symbolizes the Imperial Raj that colonized and repressed the subcontinent and there is the whole history of the “Afghan Wars” fought between the British Imperialists and the Pushtoon warriors. It was the Raj that cleaved the Pushtoons apart by drawing the Durand Line, ripping apart a nation which had the same language, history and culture.
The truth is that apart from the attacks of the Islamic fundamentalists, far more schools are turning into ruins due to the atrophy of funding by the state in these sectors. With less than 2% of GDP going on education, it is no wonder Pakistan has a staggeringly high number of 25 million school-going age children out of school. One in four of its primary school-age children – 6 million in total – are out of school. Around half of those who get into school drop out before the end of grade 3. Behind this desperate picture are some of the world’s starkest inequalities. Urban boys from the wealthiest 20% of households average 10 years of schooling. By contrast, rural girls from poor households get just one year. Rising food and fuel prices and a struggling economy have forced many families to send their children to search for work instead of to the classroom. Up to 10 million children are estimated to be working in brick kilns, sweatshops and as domestic helpers in Pakistan.
The Taliban are not the only barrier to education for Malala’s peers in Pakistan. The problems are far deeper. Poverty, gender inequality and the shocking failure of Pakistan’s ruling elite to invest in schooling are at the heart of the problem.
Malala was a young girl when she attended the Marxist school in Swat. She was going through her formative years of learning and drawing lessons from her personal experience in Swat. She had a thirst for new ideas and concepts to explain not only the atrocities being committed by the Pakistani Talibans but also was embracing Marxism as a scientific tool to end this brutal cycle of violence, repression and exploitation by the system prevailing in Pakistan.
It is not clear yet how far these capitalist agents have been able to appropriate Malala and her family, but whatever the outcome, there is no doubt that as long as this system remains, the menace of fundamentalism will continue to desecrate young girls and devastate innocent people. Under imperialist hegemony and capitalist socio-economic coercion education will remain a distant dream for these girls so keen to enlighten themselves with advanced knowledge.
Written by The Struggle