By: Chris Cork
As the dust settles after the brouhaha surrounding Malala Yousufzai and the Nobel Prize that she did not win, two other figures come dimly into view. Three girls were shot in the back of that school van. Malala was the most severely wounded and the prime target, but Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan were hit as well. Their wounds were treated locally; they made a good physical recovery and their families, like that of Malala before she was shot, became the subject of threats by the Taliban.
Behind the scenes and very quietly wheels began to turn. Kainat and Shazia were obviously at risk; and the government of Pakistan was no more likely to protect them effectively than it had Malala when she was merely moderately famous locally rather than the global icon she has become. With little fuss and fanfare, both girls received an offer of a full scholarship from a prestigious school in the UK, The Atlantic College. Malala received the same offer but probably because of her proximity to her ongoing treatment and rehabilitation resources in Birmingham, she decided to decline it.
Thus, it is that Kainat and Shazia are now settling into an educational environment unlike any they have experienced before. The Atlantic College is regarded as liberal and progressive, radical even by some, and places student participation in community service at the core of its ethos. It could not be much more different from Mingora and the Swat Valley if it tried.
There have been no million-dollar book deals for Kainat and Shazia, no nominations for anything remotely prestigious prize-wise and they do not find their every word hung on and analysed — neither do they find themselves at the heart of a concerted campaign of vilification and hate-mongering in Pakistan for which they are doubtless quietly grateful. They were just two ordinary schoolgirls who were in the wrong place at the wrong time but got caught up in the ‘Malala Effect’.
Recently, the three young women were reunited when Malala was at Edinburgh University to receive an honorary Masters degree. This is the first time that the ‘other two’ have been closely identified in public with Malala’s campaign of global education for all. They were in Edinburgh to support the Carnegie UK Trust to launch a Global Citizenship Commission which is tasked with no lesser burden than how best to update the UN 1948 Declaration of Human Rights to bring it into line with 21st century realities. Not quite a regular day out for three teenagers … anywhere.
So were Kainat and Shazia part of the conspiracy as well? Was the plan that they would just be lightly wounded and then follow Malala to the West where they could be footsoldiers for her? And their places at the Atlantic College were arranged in some secrecy were they not? Very suspicious.
Clearly, it is time to get those critical pens dipped in vitriol and begin the process of shredding the characters and motivations of Kainat and Shazia. After all, they are beneficiaries of the Malala Effect. Attending an upscale school where liberal values and attitudes are actively promoted, likewise secularism. They will spend their days in a co-educational environment, possibly go swimming and may even enjoy some minor celebrity of their own.
Obviously, all this runs counter to their culture of birth. Utterly condemnable, of course, and they must be exposed for the CIA agents that they undoubtedly are. The two are an absolute disgrace and the sooner we see a jolly good table-thumping oration to that effect delivered by some cranky misogynist on an evening chat show the better. And make sure you get on to Twitter as well, and Facebook. The more vile the comment, the better.
I sometimes wonder to myself if Malala cries into her pillow at night after another day reading of and seeing herself presented as a villainess. Would your daughter cry if vilified thus? Think about it, Dear Reader.