The West has shown Malala Yousafzai so much support in her campaign for girls’ education. Her name is a household name, and it should be. She is an amazing, brave, Pakistani girl. Like, I love Malala, okay? That ain’t even in question.
In fact, she’s been up to some amazing things lately, including backing a campaign started by girls in the U.K for the education of female genital mutilation, and speaking up for the children of Syria.
But there’s another brave Pakistani girl whose life was changed forever after an attack in 2012, just like Malala’s was. Her name is Nabila ur Rehman
Like Malala’s dad, Nabila’s father is a school teacher in Northern Pakistan. And like Malala, she was targeted by a force that should have killed her. But unlike Malala, that force was the U.S, not the Taliban.
Nabila and her 13 year old brother were gathering okra in a field with their grandmother on the day of the attack. A drone overhead fired more than once, killing their grandmother, pictured below.
Reports claimed that the drone killed as many as 5 militants, yet it killed none.
Nabila made the trek to Washington D.C from her village in Pakistan. The nine year old, her thirteen year old brother, and her father were scheduled to testify to Congress about the way the U.S’s drone policy affected their lives. Watch the testimonies here. Out of hundreds of Congress members, five showed up to listen to the family recount the day their grandmother was killed by the U.S government. It was the day before the holiday of Eid. Zubhair, Nabilia’s older brother, required sugery to remove shrapnel from his leg, but his family could not afford it. It was months before Zubhair’s family could raise enough money to pay for the operation. But no operation can change the fact that he, along with other children like him, are no longer safe to play outside. The family testified in Urdu, and required an interpreter, who wept while translating their words.
Stories like those of Nabila and her family are what took me off the fence about our drone policy, and made me against the use of drones. Nabila’s family, and countless others, were never compensated for their medical bills. I am ashamed that my government kills and injures innocent people, and does not even do so much as pay for the operations they need to repair the damage. Drones have been effective in killing a number of militants. But, as Obama himself has said, “To say a military tactic is legal, or even effective, is not to say it is wise or moral in every instance.” The numbers of militants killed by drones are misreported, as are the numbers of civilians killed. If this is our drone policy, I cannot support it.
On October 9th, 2012, Malala Yousafzai narrowly escaped death when the Taliban shot her. We have since welcomed her to our country, interviewed her on our talk shows, and allowed her to meet our president. Malala lives in England, and is an honorary citizen of Canada. She has met the Queen of England. Malala truly deserves all of this and more. But in the same month of the same year that Malala was shot, another young girl narrowly escaped death. She left her villiage to come testify to the Congress of the United States, in the hopes that they would listen to what she had to say, and that she could prevent what happened to her to happen to others. We sent her back home. I cannot help but think that we celebrate Malala because her oppressors are the Taliban, while we ignore Nabila and her family because their oppressors are us.