What’s cookin’ good lookin’??
Before we get going here, let’s talk about Malala Yousafzai. She’s back in school.
Now 15 years old, Malala is out of the hospital and back where she belongs: in school 🙂 You can check out a video of her talking about going back to school here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2013/mar/19/malala-yousafzai-back-school-video
Listening to her speak, she sounds so glad to be back in school, as well as very articulate. I’m so happy that she recovered so well, and that she’s able to be learning again 🙂
Also, Malala is currently nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Now when I first heard about Malala, I thought about other girls in her situation– living close to the Taliban, and going to school despite the risk. There are many girls in this type of environment in both Pakistan and Afghanistan. I wondered how they felt about this: were they upset that someone else had been recognized for showing bravery, and they themselves were not? Despite having the same bravery? But then I thought about Balpreet Kaur. A few months ago, an image of the Sikh women with facial hair went viral, and she responded to the plentiful insults she received with grace and forgiveness. Then, people recognized her as a strong, brave women. Although it was Balpreet who was shown, there are many Sikh women who face the same types of negative comments everyday. To a small extent, I’ve faced them myself. But instead of being upset that it wasn’t my personal struggles that were recognized, I was proud that someone who represented my religion and my culture had been recognized for her strength, and every positive comment towards Balpreet Kaur felt like a positive comment towards me and my religion. So that’s how I realized that girls going through what Malala endured probably aren’t upset that it’s not them in the spotlight, because it is them. Malala being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize is a nomination for all of the girls going to school in Taliban-heavy areas. If she wins, they all will win.
Okay scratch my original post idea. We’re staying on this topic. Buckle-up, it’s about to get unplanned up in hee yuh.
Let’s talk about where Malala lived in Pakistan.
Malala lived in Swat Valley, which is an area in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa* district of Pakistan. This area borders Pakistan’s Federally Administered Tribal Areas, as well as Afghanistan. When many people think of the Taliban, they just think of Afghanistan. However, the Taliban are prominent in some areas of Pakistan, such as Swat Valley. I don’t know a whole bunch about the Taliban in Pakistan, but I know that during their prime in Afghanistan, they had banned television, music, women from laughing, and women from being outside without a male relative. Basically, the Taliban grew up in acutely impoverished areas, many of them in Pakistan, and were educated with the strictest interpretation of Islam. They’re pretty much the number one example of the damage that can be done by an inadequate education and poverty. And so they took Afghanistan in 1997. At first, Afghan people were cautiously happy, because it seemed finally they wouldn’t be governed by an invader, such as Russia. However, the Afghan people soon realized that the Taliban was terrible news, and oppressed the country like it had never been oppressed before, under any ruler. In an interview with John Stewart, Afghan politician Fawzia Koofi was asked why the Afghan public wasn’t able to eradicate the Taliban as they had done with the Russians and other nations. Koofi responded by stating that the people of Afghanistan couldn’t rise up, because the Taliban created an environment in which they couldn’t even breathe. Soccer stadiums were turned into public execution arenas, where women who were raped would be stoned to death for “committing adultery.” Orphanages became full to bursting. Whoever could leave the country did. Whoever couldn’t tried their best to survive. The Taliban of Afghanistan crumbled in 2001 following attacks from the U.S, but the scars of the Taliban’s rule remain deep, and the country continues to bleed. I don’t know what it was like in Pakistan, but that was what Afghanistan went through under the Taliban.
Anyways, back to Malala. In the city she lived in in Swat, called Mingora, the Taliban had closed all girls schools at the beginning of 2009. In solidarity, the all-boys schools in the area voluntarily closed their doors for a short time. Gosh. That’s so beautiful, but really sad. No one wanted the girls’ schools to be closed, but there was nothing they could do but silently express their sorrow. After awhile, though, Malala’s school reopened, and she was continuing her studies when one day, the Taliban carried our their plan of shooting her. So begins her journey for survival that has won the world over.
Basically, the Taliban have ruined many lives. Women are in prison right now for fleeing abusive husbands. Children are beaten in the streets. And it’s down to the Taliban. But know this– the Taliban do not represent the population of Afghanistan or Pakistan. These men are from remote areas of the countries, and have very limited education. In the chaos during the Afghan Civil War, they were able to take power. Afghanistan had been a quickly developing country. For example, women were prominent in all areas of the work force, and no one strictly limited their dress. But once the Taliban took hold, the country went back 100+ years in time to a way of life that was familiar only to the Taliban, who had grown up in poverty.
Despite this, know also that not everyone that called themselves Taliban were bad. Imagine the Taliban takes hold of your city. They shut down your business, your wife is no longer able to work, and your daughters are forced to quit their education. Your only choice of employment is with the Taliban. The other option is letting your family starve, and so you join. Many of men in these situations took jobs as local Taliban, and did what they could to help their communities.
The Taliban lost their stronghold in Afghanistan in 2001. However, questions are being raised as to whether the U.S’s pulling out of the country will allow the Taliban to take hold once more. My hopes are that the U.S will keep a close eye on what’s going on in the country, so that the Taliban knows that they have no hope of taking power. The people of Afghanistan have seen nothing but war for decades, and it’s time for them to have peace and rebuild themselves.
Anyways, I don’t know how exactly this turned into a post about the Taliban, but here we are, 1100 words in and counting. I have an English project to finish, and you probably have something you’re putting off as well, so I say we call it a night and meet back here next Sunday?
*Self-absorbed little side-note here, two of my grandparents’ parents were actually from the province Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in Pakistan. Lived there and everything. I find this super cool, because the people of Khyber Pakhtunkwa are typically of Pashtun ethnicity, and I LOVE Pashtun culture 🙂