By: Lal Khan
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
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. 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.
Recounting those harrowing 16 days totally on her own, lying in a hospital bed far away from her home, she says that she cried for the first time when her parents finally managed to visit 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.” Malala survived 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 a15-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 perception in the west they have very little mass support.
It is the black money that nourishes the state institutions and they in turn provide sponsorship and financial assistance to these dark forces. However, these forces are bent upon imposing ‘Islamic’ ideology onto society in every arena 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. It 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 got huge media coverage. But 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 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 October 25, 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.”
Malala 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 policies were of the state’s role in education and other social sectors should be drastically diminished. Western imperialist nations have all gone into to full gear in capitalising on Malala’s tragedy to camouflage the campaign. 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 organisations 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 these institutions and individuals are now appropriating Malala who had started this struggle for education on a class basis.
Malala has been showered with innumerable awards by western imperialist institutions and governments. Now, lo and behold, the Queen is inviting Malala to Buckingham Palace! This Crown symbolises the Imperial Raj that colonised 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 Pashtoons 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 two percent 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. 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.
The writer is the editor of Asian Marxist Review and International Secretary of Pakistan Trade Union Defence Campaign. He can be reached at [email protected]