'I am Malala', the book review and what should you know about the region Talibans and she come from.

Shepherd girls in Pakistan.
Shepherd girls in Pakistan. | Source
Cycling in Kaghan Valley
Cycling in Kaghan Valley | Source
The book.
The book. | Source

My younger brother, sister and I squeezed ourselves towards the high wall of the mountain as we saw a huge herd of sheep approaching on the narrow trail. The sheep were accompanied by few livestock guardian dogs and the two herding girls acting as a sweeper at the rear. We forced the poor sheep and the dogs to walk almost on the slopes of the ravine. A slip would have taken anyone of those poor animals hundreds of feet down into gushing waters of the river.

We were hiking in one of the northernmost valleys of Swat district - Mohodand - and these being the last months of the summer before treacherous winter sat in with its snows, the Gujjar nomads were migrating from the higher ranges towards the lower open planes of the district.

As we hiked on, we saw hundreds of sheep herds coming down the trail from the upper valleys. It seemed like a serpent was wiggling through the mountains.

I am sure Malala and her family picnicked and pleasure hiked on the trails here several years after we did before the monster of Talibans swallowed the area.

I wanted to walk you through this beautiful touristic valley, but first let me outline my thoughts on the book 'I am Malala'. My review has come late, but then better late than never.

Book review: 'I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban'.

I grew up in the same region, in a much more advanced and developed Nowshera district of Khyber Pukhtoonkhwa (KPK for short) province just 60 kms south of Swat district, where Malala comes from. I was able to relate to the cultural and religious nuances and many of the events described graphically in the book.

PTI women's rally. PTI is the sitting provincial government in the province.
PTI women's rally. PTI is the sitting provincial government in the province.
PTI came on the vision for change and corruption free Pakistan.
PTI came on the vision for change and corruption free Pakistan. | Source
Although Malala's camp and PTI come from two different schools of thought, she has been a trailblazer for the latter who bravely launched anti-polio drive in February against threats from the terrorists
Although Malala's camp and PTI come from two different schools of thought, she has been a trailblazer for the latter who bravely launched anti-polio drive in February against threats from the terrorists

I liked the content and the style of writing as it seemed to be clear, straight-forward, eyewitness account that is as honest as could come from a young person of a particular background (her father supports the nationalist, anti-military Awami National Party).

When it comes to narrating facts beyond grasp of her age, she attributes them to her father, which she does very often. However, she shares her feelings a number of times to bring an emotional touch.

Nobody can, in their right minds, deny the facts contained in the book and as narrated by a young lady, although the views expressed from an anti-establishment party's point of view hurt many a people, including me.

Pakistan, and especially its military and intelligence service, has earned heaps of criticism recently in the West and in India in its role of aiding the Taliban, exporting terrorism, and radicalization of its own masses. This book is an excellent attempt to bring respect back to innocent Pakistani citizens by clarifying that they have suffered heavily at the hands of benevolent military dictatorships, corrupt dictatorial politicians, terrorists, western and Indian media, and even huge relentless natural disasters. Malala, therefore, has tried her best to bring Pakistan back on the map of respectful countries that needs world's help.

Malala speaks at a forum.
Malala speaks at a forum. | Source
Malala after intense surgery in the UK.
Malala after intense surgery in the UK. | Source

However, I have some concerns in that Malala and her beautiful mission of educating Pakistani girls will be hard to accept by the people she most wants to help.

1. Due to her criticism of her own culture and showering accolades on western icons, she seems to have already been rejected by a majority of Pushtoons.

2. It is co-authored by Christina Lamb, who is perceived to have a dislike for Pakistan. Although it appears that she hasn't written the book or any part of it, most of the material will not be and has not been assimilated happily by Pakistanis.

Malala's cause is for these school going kids.
Malala's cause is for these school going kids. | Source
Islamia College Peshawar. PTI's government is establishing a University City.
Islamia College Peshawar. PTI's government is establishing a University City. | Source

3. The way this book is written and the topics it touches and the way it touches them seem to prove to many critics that Malala has been used as a tool for marketing the product, i.e. it is a book written by Ziauddin Yusafzai in the guise of his daughter Malala Yusafzai, via assistance of Christina Lamb.

4. Malala has been very ungrateful to the military and many people who helped the family in times of their greatest need. Her views expressed on the Pakistan military are typical of Awami National Party that was resoundingly beaten in the 2013 elections by emerging Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.

Mobile courts have been launched by the sitting provincial government. These are expected tp provide speedy justice.
Mobile courts have been launched by the sitting provincial government. These are expected tp provide speedy justice. | Source

As far as I am concerned, I am totally bought in by the book and have resolved to generously donate to Malala Fund. However, I do have one honest submission to make. I am utterly astonished at the fact that a girl hailing from such a backward district of KPK, had better English at age 14 to 16 than anybody in the same age group had in my generation, although we got educated at the best schools from much more advanced districts of the same province. It goes to prove that Malala is truly a blessed child from Pakistan who ensured that she overcomes the adversities of the worst nature to accomplish her dream.

A pop song showing Kalash people and dance

Journey through the province - Chitral - The mountain, the Kalash, and the Festival

Chitral is the most northwestern district of the province and of the country and borders with Afghanistan. It is separated from the central Asian republic of Kyrgyzstan by a narrow stretch of land 10 kms wide, belonging to Afghan territory of its Nooristan province.

Kalash are non-Muslim people in the land of Muslims that are a popular destination for foreign tourists. Their cousins in Afghanistan were converted to Islam long time ago, giving their land in that country the name of Nooristan (meaning land of light), but were allowed to freely practice their faith in Chitral. We had lot of friends from Nooristan throughout 80s. From their facial expressions and languages/dialects, they were similar to the Kalash of Chitral.

Mount Tirich Mir, as seen from Chitral.
Mount Tirich Mir, as seen from Chitral. | Source

Mount Tirichmir is the highest mountain of the province, ranked 33rd in the list of highest mountains of the world. It is 7,708 meters (25,300 ft) high and belongs to the Hindu Kush range of mountains. It is the highest summit of this range as well. In order to get an idea of its height, compare it with Mount McKinley, the tallest summit in North America located in Alaska, at 6,168 meters (20,236 ft).

If I have another dog, in addition to K2 that is, I will surely named him/her after this mountain.

Traditional dance during the polo festival.
Traditional dance during the polo festival. | Source

Shandur Polo Festival invites visitors to experience a traditional polo tournament which is held between Chitral and Gilgit teams every year since 1936. The tournament is held on Shandur Top, the highest polo ground in the world at 3,700 meters (the pass itself is at 3,800 meters). The festival also includes folk music, dancing and a camping village is temporarily set up for the occasion.


Engraving of Buddha
Engraving of Buddha | Source
UNESCO's Heritage Site at Takht Bhai. The site has Buddhist remains of what was a monastery.
UNESCO's Heritage Site at Takht Bhai. The site has Buddhist remains of what was a monastery. | Source

Buddhist sites in Swat

When we used to visit Swat, the first place we used to make a stopover was Marghazar. The journey from Nowshera was only 60 km, but it took ages due to narrow mountainous roads, asking for a well-deserved break before driving onward to higher valleys.

Near this town, among other archaeological relics, you can still find a giant statue of fasting Buddha engraved on a rock of limestone. Marghazar, with a royal palace, also wears the same white color.

Buddhist civilization flourished in parts of both Afghanistan and Pakistan. Swat Valley still boasts of several sites, especially at its southern entrance near capital Saidu Shareef. All of the sites are still intact due mainly to the peaceful nature of swat's inhabitants.


A shepherd girl confidently leading her herd of local breed of sheep.
A shepherd girl confidently leading her herd of local breed of sheep. | Source
A Koochi girls keeps a watch of her resting sheep.
A Koochi girls keeps a watch of her resting sheep. | Source
The muddy waters of Kabul River merge with clear waters of Indus about 21 kms southeast of Nowshera.
The muddy waters of Kabul River merge with clear waters of Indus about 21 kms southeast of Nowshera. | Source

The planes of Peshawar and Nowshera

My formative years were spent in the planes of this province. I went to school in Nowshera, which is a gateway to the province from the Punjab province. The neighbouring districts of Peshawar and Mardan (South of Sway Valley) were my backyard.

Most of my time was spent exploring the wilderness of Nowshera alone. The province was thinly populated in the 70s and anywhere we went we were accompanied by loneliness of nature. Some spots were temporarily taken over by the Koochi nomads, practicing transhumance with their herds of camels and sheep and large Koochi dogs (a livestock guardian dog resembling central Asian Ovcharka). We didn't know anything about those broad muzzled dogs and were very scared of them.

Needless to mention, lot of time was spent walking our dogs with some school friends, exploring the wild Kabul river that flowed through the town and its path as it vigorously flowed to have a confluence with Indus river 21 kms east of Nowshera, offering boulders and rock pools to have picnics nearby, and driving to the tallest peak of our district known as Cherat, a military town, at an elevation of 1400 meters (4,500 ft).

Today, the planes of the province offer exploration of cities like Peshawar, river rafting, and passage to the higher valleys of Chitral and Swat.

Ayubia National Park.
Ayubia National Park. | Source
A snow leopard in Chitral valley. If you are lucky, you can see these beautiful in Gol Nallah National Park.
A snow leopard in Chitral valley. If you are lucky, you can see these beautiful in Gol Nallah National Park. | Source
Western Tragopan pheasants can be seen inLulusar-Dodipat National Park in the Kaghan Valley.
Western Tragopan pheasants can be seen inLulusar-Dodipat National Park in the Kaghan Valley. | Source

National Parks

My youngest brother and I have hiked through Ayubia National Park. That is a lifetime memory. We hiked on the trail in dense dark clouds when the visibility was almost zero. On several occasions, what we thought was trail, turned out to be clouds covering deep ravines. Any mistake could have been fatal.

The province has 6 national parks. Three of them, Gol Nallah National Park in Chitral District, Ayub National Park in Abbottabad district, and Saiful Malook & Lulusar-Dodipat National Park, in Mansehra.district are for the protection of snow leopards and Asiatic leopards.

If you are lucky, you may be able to see in these national parks western Tragopans, koklass, kaleej and cheer pheasants, snow leopard, Asiatic leopard, black bear, yellow throated Marten, Kashmir hill fox, red flying squirrel, Himalayan palm civet, masked civet and Rhesus Macaque. Birds in the park include golden eagle, Himalayan griffon vulture, honey buzzard, Peregrine falcon, kestrel, Indian sparrow hawk, hill pigeon, spotted dove and collared dove.

The current provincial government is planning to increase the number of national parks to 12 and to ban timber cutting as a countermeasure to the notorious timber mafia that is cutting trees hysterically causing floods and landslides.

A classical picture showing British open Greats Jahangir Khan (10 times champion), Geoff Hunt (8), Hashim Khan (7), Jonah Barrington (6), Azam Khan (4), Roshan Khan and Qamar Zaman (1 each).
A classical picture showing British open Greats Jahangir Khan (10 times champion), Geoff Hunt (8), Hashim Khan (7), Jonah Barrington (6), Azam Khan (4), Roshan Khan and Qamar Zaman (1 each). | Source
The three-day Shandur polo festival is held at the world’s highest polo ground located at a height of 3,734 metres above sea level.
The three-day Shandur polo festival is held at the world’s highest polo ground located at a height of 3,734 metres above sea level. | Source

Sports

The province has historically produced the best squash players in the world. At one time, its sons created and ruled the squash world like a dynasty. Some of the well known squash players with their wins in the British Open, the most prestigious tournament, are as follows:

Hashim Khan: 7 times from 1951 to 1958

Qamar Zaman: 1 time in 1975

Jahangir Khan: Record 10 times from 1982 to 1991

Jansher Khan: 6 times from 1992 to 1997

Besides squash, province has contributed in cricket and field hockey. It is reported that most cricket is played in this province in the entire of Pakistan.

Map of the province and languages spoken.
Map of the province and languages spoken. | Source

Location and languages

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), formerly called North-West Frontier Province, is located in the north-west of the country. It borders the Federally Administered Tribal Areas to the west and south, Gilgit–Baltistan (Northern Areas) to the north-east, Azad Kashmir to the east, Punjab and the Islamabad Capital Territory to the south-east, and Afghanistan to the north-west. The province of Balochistan is located southwards. The provincial capital and largest city is Peshawar.

The languages spoken include Urdu (Lingua Franca), Pukhto (or Pushto), Hindko (it is the second major language after Pushto), Seraiki, Khowar, and Kohistani.

Serena Hotel of Swat
Serena Hotel of Swat | Source

Where to go and stay?

Record number of tourists have visited the province during the year 2015-16 as the security conditions have become much better.

Swat Valley can be a treasure for its relics relating to Buddhism, Peshawar for its history, culinary experience, and being a gateway to the wild west of Pakistan (the tribal areas), Kaghan Valley for white water rafting, and the Galliyat region (e.g. Ayubia National Park) for observing wildlife.

There are a number of reasonably priced hotels of good standards in all these areas.

More by this Author


Comments 26 comments

Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 18 months ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you, Stella, for kind remarks.


ladyguitarpicker profile image

ladyguitarpicker 18 months ago from 3460NW 50 St Bell, Fl32619

Very interesting article on Pakistan. Malalas deserves all the attention. Thanks for sharing a wonderful hub.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

While at it, Zaid, I have couple of more articles on the country. One is in general on media bias against Pakistan and the other is on its wildlife. Please have a look if you feel interested and let me know what you think about those.


Zaid Hameed profile image

Zaid Hameed 2 years ago

Of course everyone has an analysis and a point of view based based on that but the important part is to think about both sides.

Best of luck to you as well.

Thanks


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

In this case, Zaid, we can agree to disagree.

I wish you the best.


Zaid Hameed profile image

Zaid Hameed 2 years ago

Suhail,

Ok. So she talked about the drones, then what? She takes 1 step forward and 2 steps backwards. And if she is so concerned she should talk about it more like she talks about the Taliban.

All the points in this article are what every other person would think like. There is nothing out standing or something different she did or thought about. And the article is made to sound extremely exaggerated by using words like she stormed the UN. Trust me there was nothing big she did there. I also heard her speech, it did not have any rich material.

Other than that she doesn't have the mind to make big decisions, she is a kid. She might be doing what her father tells her to do. But she is being treated like she is doing everything.

And its not for me to accept Malalas prize, that was on her and she accepted it. Happy for her


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Zaid,

My suggestion is then that accept Malala's prize and her even if you don't agree with the motive behind the prize being given. We can be selfish about that, can't we? And then start projecting Nabeela and Mr. Edhi too for Nobel Prize to them as well. The more the better. I don't see any Pakistani running campaign for Nabeela and Edhi on the social media.

As regards your objection that she didn't speak on drones, please read this link below. One of the reasons why she is considered a hero is that she confronted Obama on drone attacks.

http://mic.com/articles/77971/12-reasons-why-malal...


Zaid Hameed profile image

Zaid Hameed 2 years ago

Our Country has a lot of talent which should be highlighted rather than a girl being highlighted for getting hit by a bullet in her head. Pakistan is not just about Taliban, in fact there is still a question mark on the existence the real Taliban within Pakistan.

If something is to be highlighted than it should be the root cause of Taliban which is that they were created and trained by the CIA. If Malala is so brave she should talk about these things as well as it is unfortunately what becomes the root cause for her being shot in the head.

As for being shot in the head, do you know her skull was operated and re-structured without her head being shaved, which is a big question mark in my mind.

As for standing up for education, her father ran a school which was shut down after which she stood up.

I see there is Malala on one side and a girl Nabeela on the other who's Grandmother died due to drones and for which she traveled to DC to complain about it, but then what? No one even knows about her. Why doesn't Malala talk about that?

Malala getting all the attention is somewhat abnormal and people like Mr. Edhi who have served and dedicated their life for the poor in Pakistan deserve the Noble Prize but once again, no one knows about him outside Pakistan.

My question is, why Malala?


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thanks for the comments Zaid.

Can you please elaborate what concerns you in my review of her book, given that I have spent considerable time to explain the negatives as well?

In any case, she has won the Nobel Prize and she is your countrywomen. Credit goes to your country that nurtures talent like her, even if you agree with her viewpoint or not.


Zaid Hameed profile image

Zaid Hameed 2 years ago

Your analysis is one sided. You have just talked about Malala's book and her point of view. Nothing neutral about your hub.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi VioletteRose,

I just noted a comment from you on this article. First of all, my apologies for missing it. Second, I appreciate your nice comment. Malala is indeed a very brave girl, hard to find in this day and age.


VioletteRose profile image

VioletteRose 2 years ago from Chicago

Malala really is a brave girl, may god bless her. Thanks for sharing this great hub!


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Yes they do and they make us what we are.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Of coursed not, Suhail. Good memories belong in the heart--Inshallah.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

I am honoured to read this Deb. This means I haven't done anything wrong by holding on to the sweet memories of my childhood.


aviannovice profile image

aviannovice 2 years ago from Stillwater, OK

Suhail, thanks so much for sharing. While you traversed your wild lands in PK, I traversed mine in Maine. We both learned from and discovered what was ours, so I hold a kinship with you in some ways.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Malala has only written one book. She is just a kid, but a great book it is.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Please do read the book and let me know how you find it.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

A great hub and I will certainly be reading more of this writer. Thank you for sharing and enjoy your day.

Eddy.


uzma shaheen profile image

uzma shaheen 2 years ago from Lahore,Pakistan

Khyber Pakhtunkhawah is such a beautiful part of Pakistan, you grasped it's beauty in words very well. Pictures are complimenting your words. Great way to tell world how amazing is this place. I wish and pray for peace in this region as well as in whole Pakistan.

I have not read the book of Malala yet, but it faced a lot of criticism here. I don't doubt her attentions but her father's political attachments may have influenced her thoughts. I will make my final opinion after reading her book.

great hub. thoroughly enjoyed.sharing it.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Thank you Binte Amim. Personal memories are what made this article.


Binte Amim 2 years ago

This is the most beautiful and comprehensive blog on KPK. But I love it mostly because the blogger has given such an emotional touch to it by giving his personal accounts.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

Hi flourish Anyway,

I have lots of memories from that part of the country. I left it in the early 80s, have been there off and on, but I am shocked at the way it has changed over that period of time.


FlourishAnyway profile image

FlourishAnyway 2 years ago from USA

I have not read her work but was intrigued by your analysis. You provide a lovely overview of sociocultural and natural aspects of your country, and I enjoyed reading.


Suhail and my dog profile image

Suhail and my dog 2 years ago from Mississauga, ON Author

I agree.


propertyconsult profile image

propertyconsult 2 years ago from Bhubaneswar, India

Much more appreciative work done by this big lady Malala.

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