Sakharov Prize-winner Malala Yousafazai Calls on US Gov’t to Conduct talks with Taliban (Queally)

Malala Yousafzai has won the Sakharov Prize for free speech and human rights.

Jon Queally writes at

” Malala Yousafzai, the sixteen-year-old girl shot in the head by Taliban members in her native Pakistan for speaking out for women's right to education, is calling out the U.S. government and her own for refusing to do what seems obvious to her: hold peace talks.

Now living in the UK following surgeries for her wounds and ongoing rehabilitation, Yousafzai gave an interview to the BBC in which she called on the U.S to make efforts to end the war taking place in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"The best way to solve problems and to fight against war is through dialogue," she told the BBC. "That's not an issue for me, that's the job of the government… and that's also the job of America."

Karzai bucks BSA

Meanwhile, as the possibility of talks between the Afghan Taliban have stalled once again ahead of next year's deadline set by President Obama, a negotiated peace seems as far away as ever.

At a press conference on Monday, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said he is not sure the U.S.—now in its thirteenth year of occupying the Central Asian country—can be trusted to respect Afghan sovereignty after 2014. And once again, Karzai is threatening not to sign a military agreement, called the Bilateral Security Agreement (BSA), designed to establish the ground rules for ongoing U.S. and NATO involvement in the country.

Karzai said he is unsatisfied with the behavior of the U.S. government, specifically citing the continued death of Aghan civilians by U.S. troops, aerial bombings by ISAF forces, and continued drone attacks.

Referring to the U.S and NATO leaders, Karzai said, "They want us to keep silent when civilians are killed. We will not, we cannot."

"The United States and Nato have not respected our sovereignty. Whenever they find it suitable to them, they have acted against it. This has been a serious point of contention between us and that is why we are taking issue of the BSA strenuously in the negotiations right now," Karzai said.

"They commit their violations against our sovereignty and conduct raids against our people, air raids and other attacks in the name of the fight on terrorism and in the name of the resolutions of the United Nations. This is against our wishes and repeatedly against our wishes," he continued.

Earlier this year, the Taliban opened an office in Qatar in order to pave the way for negotiations. So far, however, little or no progress has been made.

The 'forgotten war' and the years ahead

According to author Ann Jones, who recently wrote about the war in Afghanistan—officially America's longest—argued there is little comfort to be found as 2014 approaches. As in Iraq, she says, the destruction and hardships born of U.S. war will continue for decades.

"Even when the war 'ends' and Americans have forgotten it altogether, it won’t be over in Afghanistan," Jones writes. In fact, she adds, "It won’t be over in the U.S. either." She explains:

In Afghanistan, […] as the end of a longer war supposedly draws near, the rate at which civilians are being killed has actually picked up, and the numbers of women and children among the civilian dead have risen dramatically.  This week, as the Nation magazine devotes a special issue to a comprehensive study of the civilian death toll in Afghanistan — the painstaking work of Bob Dreyfuss and Nick Turse — the pace of civilian death seems only to be gaining momentum as if in some morbid race to the finish.

Like Iraqis, Afghans, too, are in flight — fearing the unknown end game to come.  The number of Afghans filing applications for asylum in other countries, rising sharply since 2010, reached 30,000 in 2012. Undocumented thousands flee the country illegally in all sorts of dangerous ways.  Their desperate journeys by land and sea spark controversy in countries they’re aiming for.  It was Afghan boat people who roused the anti-immigrant rhetoric of candidates in the recent Australian elections, revealing a dark side of the national character even as Afghans and others drowned off their shores.  War reverberates, even where you least expect it.”


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20 Responses

  1. Malala Yousafzai was on Jon Stewart’s show; what an absolutely amazing young woman. Sixteen going on 60. I have a lot of trouble wrapping my mind around the wisdom and savvy of the child-woman, sixteen years old.
    The whole world needs to listen to this sage.

  2. It is always a tragedy when a child or very young person is injured and maimed in war, but the fawning over this girl who is in my Country stinks of a massive PR job which demeans this young girls honest out pourings about the situation in Pakistan. There are hundreds of children who have hideous injuries and are maimed and disfigured for life as a result of American drones. They are of course, kept well in the background as they are in Afghanistan following attacks on them from we British and American bombs. Those kids who are harmed by the Taliban are ripe for exploitation by the media and the governments war machine. The ones we have so brutally damaged remain in the shadows and well out of the public eye. The notion that this girl would get the peace prize just shows what a superb job the PR people are capable of and how stupid are we the public to believe in this charade.

    • The notion that this girl would get the peace prize just …shows what a superb job the PR people are capable of and how stupid are we the public to believe in this charade.
      Yours is an interesting, if cynically sad, comment.
      To listen to this 16 year old school girl is all one needs to hear, IMO.
      I couldn’t give a toss about PR and MSM’s exhortations; just listen to the person. Open your ears.
      This is a very special child and may in fact start the very process you don’t see happening.

      • Mr Varnold: I feel sorry for what this girls is going through. She is a child of Pakistan. But this PR campaign is for your consumption.

    • Your point is valid, but the way it was framed was unfortunate. Instead, of positioning Malala on one side and all the other maimed and killed children on the other it would be better to make her representative of the latter and also bring international attention to them.

    • as a conspiracy theorist, I ask myself who is paying for the PR campaign surrounding this girl ?

    • This is like repeating most right-wing Pakistanis talking points who are more steeped in denial, conspiracy and resentment of how the West reacts positively to her than acknowledging her brave and noble act, being a lucky survivor, or the crisis of local extremism.

      It’s correct that there are millions of children worldwide who are maimed and disfigured and killed, and of course you focused on the drones and not on the terrorist attacks, because one has an American and British label, while the other does not. So what makes her different?

      It starts with a popular diary blog she bravely documented for the BBC, and yes she got the opportunity and exposure due to her educated father’s connections that most other unfortunate Pakistani children do not have, during the takeover of Swat by extremist Taliban (which is a different reality than the drones and are the instigators who have prompted this type of warfare), a settled area of Pakistan. She became locally famous later on, receiving even govt recognition, as her cute school girl grace impressed those who were lucky enough to view her through their living room TVs outside of Swat, though not much interest in the general public except after the attack on her.

      Ironically what rocketed her to the top was the fact that she, a school girl who spoke for education and against extremism including the Taliban, was targeted for an assassination by the TTP, who have no short supply of local excusers, sympathizers and apologists who do not take extremism or education seriously, but too were taken aback by the depravity of the TTP who openly targeted, SPECIFICALLY (which I’m sure drone strikes do not do), a school girl (as opposed to politicians and security officials and their families, or minorities, etc), rather than just simply bombing a public place full of faceless random schools or school children as before (a yawn for the Pakistani public).

      I would hope folks would realize the symbolic significance of the attack itself and what it highlighted and not get distracted, obsessed and focused on what they perceive is the hypocrisy of the host nations, ignoring the honest brutal realities of a lack of education and rising extremism in Pakistan, if not globally, which seems to be so easily ignored. There are many worthy candidates and heroes and heroines. But this mattered a lot, especially for a nation that is literally losing and in denial, and not surprising the hateful backlash.

  3. This is all bluster for internal consumption. Karzai simply wants to establish himself as a separate force as he leaves office next year. He can’t do that if he is seen as a weak figure in the power calculation to come.

  4. The best and fastest way to rid ourselves of virulent Islam is to let them govern. After a generation (or less), their youth will reject them. As long as we resist Islam it holds up the anti-colonial banner and marches on.

    The Soviet Union collapsed, the American Republic holding on by a thread, but Islam marches on in Afghanistan.

    Is it time to ban Harvard and Yale graduates from government? Their fingerprints are all over these debacles!

    • I am a little at a loss to understand the meaning of your post.

      Are you of the opinion that if Muslims leave Islam they will suddenly embrace enlightenment? As Islam is the most tenacious belief system in all history (there hasn’t been a single instance where a people, once become Muslim, has ever abandoned the faith), it has never been defeated except by outright ethnic cleansing (such as Spain, Bulgaria, Portugal, Serbia, Myanmar).

      Since Islamic civilization once flourished, I don’t think it’s accurate to blame the current backwardness of Muslims on Islam. I think the mass murder of Muslims by the Mongols, the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, the baleful influence of oil (resource curse/Dutch disease) and interference by Westerners are more important factors.

      As for Afghanistan, it was moving towards a modernized society (that embraced both Islam and modernity) up until the soviet backed PDPA killed and replaced Daoud Khan. It’s America and USSR that created this Afghan horror. After 35 years of interference, we have a corrupt puppet kicking sand in the eyes of his puppet masters.

    • “Is it time to ban Harvard and Yale graduates from government? Their fingerprints are all over these debacles!”

      The problem begins before students enter Harvard and Yale and other so-called elite schools that provide these immoral and corrupt leaders. It begins in early childhood and in their youthful years when our culture and education system fails to teach young people what is moral and what is not. Instead, they are encouraged to seek power and wealth above all, and these institutions of supposed higher learning are among the most efficient means of reaching their goals.

  5. Malala has triggered a bitter controversy in Pakistan. She would have been an ordinary girl studying in her school in Swat like thousands still do in that part of the world. Had the taliban not ordered the girls schools to be closed the world not have heard of Malala. Again if taliban had not brutally shot her the nomination for noble prize would have been a distant dream. She must be thankful to taliban for elevating her to the unbelievable status of an international celebrity. Whatever motives underlies in the background of projection of Malala at international stage, the fact remains that girls have every right to have an unimpeded access to education. Malala campaign for education is consistent with worldwide consensus on the importance of education as a catalyst for breaking the vicious circles of poverty and ignorance. Playing politics is irresistible particularly when emotional issues are involved. The temptation to invoke ideological narrative has divided the country which is unfortunate. These scores should be settled elsewhere. Let Malala pursue her own studies and avail this Godsend opportunity to make her own future and the future of others if she could. The Drone issue though per se i believe is least related to Malala and should be raised at proper forum and justice be sought for those affected.

    • Munir,

      Interesting how the blame-the-victim narrative has reached fever pitch in Pakistan, much of it expressing itself in nonsensical and illogical ways. You’re participating in this, sadly.

      I am pretty sure Malala is not “grateful” to the Taliban for ANYTHING, and for you to say this reveals you do not have the empathy to understand what it must be like to have a hole blown in your head and to lie near death for weeks. I am sure that Malala would trade it all to have her health back and her body whole again. I know I would. And don’t imagine that she is healed– you can see that she is somewhat disfigured and is going to be fragile for the rest of her life.

      The rest of your comment is not very intelligible. You state that it is a “fact” that girls have an “unimpeded” access to education– well it is not a fact in Pakistan, where many girls are not in school, nor is it a fact in the minds of the Taliban, who have bombed hundreds of schools– iow you sound like you are trying to say Malala’s point is not important but clearly it is a very urgent issue in Pakistan presently. UNESCO claims that only 12% to 26% of women and girls are literate.

      I am not sure what is driving all the resentment of Malala in Pakistan but frankly many of the comments sound like envy to me. It is hard to imagine that so many people are angry at a young woman for attention she has done nothing to bring on herself, and seems to be handling with great maturity. Yes, the Western audiences are enthusiastic about her story. What is there in that to make you so angry? I am genuinely curious.

    • Malala is being cunningly exploited to undermine support for the local Taliban. The campaign is rooted in Western values, which seem to be projected onto Pakistanis out in the FATAs.

      You and I know who is engineering this, and why, but to say who marks me as a conspiracy nut.

    • I suppose if there was no apartheid, we wouldn’t have ‘unfortunately’ heard of Nelson Mandela winning a Nobel…grumble. Whoever are behind in rightly raising her status as a heroine (luckily for her BBC, UK), are clearly more grateful than her very own petty countrymen.

      The controversy is among the right wing religious nationalist Pakistani mindsets, who are more embarrassed and resentful about her fame and the West praising her, and come out looking like sympathizers to the Taliban (which sadly more than half are) because they refuse to acknowledge and remain in denial of a symbolic moment, simply out of spite.

      And that is it…the Taliban DID take over a settled area of Pakistan, that is Swat valley, as Pakistan looked on, and hence we heard of Malala. The Pakistani govt and public did not take this extremist threat to education seriously, and continues to not do so, even more evident by the lack of expenditure on education, and instead of acknowledging these failures resort to deflective conspiracies and ridiculous rhetoric whose priorities seem to be focused on disliking anything and everything but the issue of extremists, highlighting a mental disconnect between reality and perception.

      If there was consensus on the issue on education, then Pak wouldn’t have cut a deal with the Talibs in the first place and let them walk in Swat, which indeed was a huge catastrophic event and not merely ‘politics’ in speaking out against it.

      Should Pakistan be thankful for the Taliban for making it famous and notorious as the epicenter of global terrorism? She was already famous before the Taliban despicably shot her and made her even more famous. Instead of resenting it and dismissing it, being emotional, perhaps energy is better spent in introspecting on what’s so wrong with Pak where such ideological backwardness is becoming easily excused by its population.

  6. This is what John William Kaye, a British military historian, wrote about Shah Shujah Durrani, Afghanistan’s Emir.

    “It was obviously his policy to appear all things to all people. He could not venture to take any decided course… Perhaps, I should not err if I were to say that he was true neither to his own countrymen nor to his British allies. He was prepared to side with either the one or the other, according to the direction in which the tide of success might be seen to flow. He had no affection for the English; but he dearly loved British money…He wanted the prestige of British support without the incumbrance of British control. To retain our friendship, and yet to rid himself of our presence, was unquestionably the desire of the Shah.”

    From “History of the War in Afghanistan” (1851), Volume 2

    The same applies to Karzai today.

  7. Having served as a medical corpsman in Vietnam, I feel I am experiencing in the aftermath of two military misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq, what Yogi Berra once said to sports reporters, after losing again the second game in a Sunday double-header, “Guys, it’s deja vu all over again.”
    After the fall of Saigon, Americans went through the shock of the worst foreign policy debacle in their nation’s history, and they then went into a state of collective amnesia when it came to any news from Southeast Asia. They had their eyes wide shut to the Cambodian Holocaust, which was caused in part by the secret bombing campaign of President Richard Nixon, that destabilized the country and brought about the rise of the Khmer Rouge. So trying to erase the war in Afghanistan from their consciousness seems par for the course, especially, since they have had an epiphany of Biblical proportions on the road to Damascus. They have just had it with war – period. They know they were conned. But even marks wise up sooner or later.
    It’s very painful for average Americans to deal with failure of any kind. This is the land founded upon the endless and wonderful pursuit of happiness. That’s our real national religion next to professional football. And we are always reading on the op-ed pages and hearing from the talking heads on TV of that strange creature called American exceptionalism. By the way, these opinions expressed about American exceptionalism are by and large by civilians who have never seen the beast of war up close and personal.
    We are Americans. We love winners. And these opinion makers avoid disturbing references or unpleasant truths from the usual suspects: Professor Chomsky, the late Gore Vidal or Chris Hedges in their op-eds. They’re on the fringe. exiled from the MSM and are usually labeled as malcontents of the American dream and, worse of all, deeply suspect because they are intellectuals. Their moral compasses are out of whack to the MSM.
    After all, we award the Vince Lombardi Award to the football team who wins the Super Bowl rather than the one who shows really good sportsmanship and knows how to lose with grace. And to many in a sports-obsessed culture, war’s just an away game on the high school football schedule. It was termed as a “cakewalk” as Ken Adeleman, a neocon who worked for Rumsfeld at the Pentagon ginning up the specious intelligence for the war in Iraq. Forty-three months later after his falling out with Rummy, he called it “the debacle that was Iraq.”
    And as JFK observed after the fiasco at the Bay of Pigs victory has many fathers but defeat is an orphan. Well, I don’t see any of the politicians on both sides of the aisle in Congress, who voted for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, offering to take a paternity test and accept those two orphans into their tender, loving care and parental custody. And it led to that sad charade of politicians finger-pointing at each other when it was reported the death benefits to family members for our fallen soldiers from Afghanistan would be temporarily suspended due to the federal shutdown.
    It was a very painful experience for me as a naive and young man to witness war. That’s probably way I am so sensitive to this issue and was so leery of the collective war hysteria used by the Bush administration and liberal hawks in the Democratic Party after the 9/11 attacks. I mean, I don’t exactly qualify to be a member of the Mensa Society. But from my experiences as a medical corpsman, I assure you I definitely know the pain and disillusionment I went through during my tour of duty. But being a Vietnam veteran in this country is just ancient history. I might as well be talking about the Pelopennesian War between Athens and Sparta. History offers no lessons to us any more to learn from our past mistakes. Besides, it sinks of intellectualism and we all know where that leads. The road to perdition. But Gore Vidal has said all this before and much better than I could ever do.
    But we seem to be sinking once again into this collective state of amnesia because we are all so war-weary. That’s a bad omen.

  8. Tinwoman
    Perhaps i could not have made my points very elaborate. Let me make it clear that what i had in mind was that her ascendancy to prominence was ironically the unintended consequence of brutal attack on her. I totally agree with you that she would never ever have traded her priceless health for such a fanfare but what i was pointing out was that ultimately it turned to be a blessing in disguise. So many girls have been injured, maimed for life and killed but no one have ever heard of them. Judging from this perspective Malala turned out to be fortunate.
    Regarding girls education you probably have not read properly as i have asserted that the girls should have unimpeded access which implies it is not the case in our part of the world. The taliban are against all education except religious one, let alone girls education. To be very honest these holy-men are the product of Jihad which the American waged against Soviet Union in 80s. These assets and darlings of the west are the ones who are out there now blasting the schools, exploding themselves and innocents in suicide attacks, destabilizing whole region and the world. Had the west contributed to the cause of education instead of stoking militancy no school would have been destroyed and no Malala had been attacked. Malala is resented by those who were doing the American bidding then.

  9. Exceptionally well said, George.

    “Well, I don’t see any of the politicians on both sides of the aisle in Congress, who voted for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, offering to take a paternity test and accept those two orphans into their tender, loving care and parental custody.”

    What is bizarre and possibly psychotic and worse is that majorities of American voters returned these politicians who endorsed the war to Congress where they could make similar grave errors of judgement again. One senator was elevated to vice president and two others became secretaries of state. Similarly, many of the same pundits on television and print media are still employed promoting more wars and violation of international laws and civilized behavior.

    “It was a very painful experience for me as a naive and young man to witness war.”

    You can thank the lies you were fed by our education system and the various forms of media for that.

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