I just finished reading I Am Malala, by Malala Yousafzai today, and it was a truly great read.
There’s a lot of history in this book, both of Pakistan as a whole as well as the Swat Valley, the region in northern Pakistan where Malala grew up. Through the lives of Malala and her family, the book gives you a sense of Pashtun culture, both before and after the Taliban took control of the valley. The horror of living with the constant threat of being shot, mutilated, and bombed is also vividly conveyed.
I was deeply reminded of Anne Frank while reading this book. The constant terrorism the decent people of Pakistan face is beyond words. The Taliban operates in an environment of complete fear, where no life is sacred, where nothing is sacred. The Taliban are the opposite of the tenets of Islam and the teachings of the Prophet Muhammad– they are Hitler and the Nazi SS.
The Pakistan army and government are also completely dysfunctional, and the book gives enough evidence of their ineptitude to leave your blood boiling.
The book opens with a brief account of Malala being shot in the head, and by the time her story catches up to that point, about the last third of the book, I had a hard time keeping my eyes from swimming while I read. Every page made me want to cry.
Pakistan is in need of leadership. Badly. The corruption in the military, especially the way in which the military supports the Taliban, is especially sickening. This is a country the Unites States has given billions and billions of dollars to (during the adminstration of George W. Bush), but U.S. tax dollars only lined the pockets of corrupt individuals, men who are not only happy to let terrorists walk free, but actively support them in terrorizing the people of Pakistan.
I’m so glad that Malala survived being shot in the face, and I’m so glad that she has started the Malala Fund, which I joined today.
But I don’t see a way out of this mess for Pakistan. That country needs a Muslim George Washington (who would never get in bed with the Taliban), and a coalition of a Muslim Adams/Jefferson/Hamilton/Franklin/Patrick Henry unit of individuals who want to recreate a Pakistan free of the Taliban. Until there are Pakistanis in power who are there to lead, not just seize power, and until there’s a military force that can keep those leaders safe (as the good leaders are blown up every day there)– then I don’t see how Pakistan is ever going to come out of the darkness.
There are so many other children being shot and bombed in Pakistan every day, in schools, in the streets, in their homes, and their government is assisting the Taliban in overseeing their torture and demise. It is unspeakably sad.