Pakistan: A flag and a battle
Written by Jawed NaqviThursday, 04 April 2013
[image: Print] <http://www.marxist.com/a-flag-and-a-battle-plan/print.htm
We bring to the attention of our readers an article written in the
Pakistani newspaper Dawn about Malala Yousufzai and the work of the
Marxists in the Swat area in Pakistan.
*�Tere mathey pe ye aanchal bahot hi khoob hai lekin/*
*Tu is aanchal se ik parcham bana leti to achcha tha/*
(Your headscarf looks lovely, my dear, but yield!
Why not make a flag from it for the battlefield?)�
[image: SWAT Marxist school Malala
Yousufzai at the IMT Marxist Summer School in Swat last yearThe poem by
Majaaz Lucknavi belongs to the 1930s but it seems to echo an event in
distant Afghanistan half a century before.
Malalai of Maiwand died on the battlefield in July 1880 when she was 17
years old, engaging British and Indian troops in the Second Afghan War. It
is said that Malalai � also spelled and pronounced as Malala � actually
fashioned a flag from her veil to rally her Afghan compatriots in the
She was a much-loved poet too. Her exhortation, as she mustered support for
Ayub Khan, the charismatic Afghan commander and son of the deposed amir,
was recorded for posterity thus:
�Young love! If you don�t fall in the battle of Maiwand, By God, someone is
saving you as a symbol of shame!�
The historic battle saw a rout of the combined Indian and British troops,
their ranks depleted of seasoned warriors after 1857. The Maiwand battle
was a mandatory topic in the Senior Cambridge history course for years.
Was Majaaz, separated by decades from the battle of Maiwand, inspired by
the legend of Malalai to pen his clarion call to his beloved, and thereby
to all women? It is hard to tell.
But he did sway a generation of Indian women to crop their veils into flags
to fight foreign occupation. Maiwand�s battle cry has inspired generations
of Afghan women.
According to an interview Malala Yousufzai gave a couple of years ago, she
is a fan of Malalai of Maiwand and was named after her.
There was another Malala to inspire the 15-year-old heroine of Swat.
Stories of Malalai Joya�s fight against male barbarism abound in
contemporary Afghan lore.
Winning a parliament seat in 2005, Malalai Joya could have chosen an easy,
comfortable life. She decided instead to lend her powerful voice to fight
those among her fellow deputies she identified as regressive, anti-women
warlords. Her enemies charged her with being a communist and successfully
had her evicted from parliament.
Addressing an international peace conference in Australia last month,
Malalai Joya, already a celebrated author of a book on Afghan women, pulled
no punches to highlight international connivance in the tragedy that befell
�The black clouds of war are overshadowing our earth,� she told the Swan
Island Peace Convergence 2012. �The US, depending upon the dirtiest
fundamentalists forces such as Al Qaeda and its likes has pushed Libya,
Iraq and Afghanistan into disaster and deviated the uprisings against
fundamentalism and dictatorship by handing the leadership to its
fundamentalist lackeys; and they are now in the process of destroying Syria
Not only is Malalai Joya regarded as a role model by the Yousufzai scion,
there is evidence of a Marxist underpinning that runs the risk of being
overlooked in the teenaged girl�s ideological shaping.
A picture in which she is seen with a poster of Lenin and Trotsky should
indicate her proximity to some of the most ideologically groomed bunch of
men and women in Swat. They are members of the International Marxist
Tendency (IMT), which condemns religious extremism and imperialism equally.
We have been told of Malala�s blogs and interviews with global news groups,
but her involvement with the Marxists of Swat (of all the places) tends to
As an IMT release suggests, Malala Yousufzai attended its National Marxist
Youth School in Swat in July this year. Scores of participants came from
across distant provinces of Pakistan. The scale of their commitment is
heart-warming. The irony is stark. The spectacle of mighty politicians in
Islamabad, running scared of lurking assassins despite layers of security
jostles with the rising star (Imran Khan) on Pakistan�s political firmament
whose desire to visit the troubled areas becomes heavy weather.
And here we have a group of girls and boys, men and women, armed with
nothing more than unwavering dedication to bring change where the mighty
fear to tread. They go about their business without the fanfare a visit to
They remind me of the late communist activist Hriday Nath Wanchoo who stood
his ground in Srinagar with nothing but his zeal to fight for the human
rights of Hindus and Muslims when the rest of his fellow Kashmiri pandits
were fleeing the Valley.
Titled Red Flags in Taliban Territory, Imran Kamyana�s piece on IMT�s
website is instructive. Swat, he says, is known for religious extremism and
the Taliban. �Many comrades themselves became victims of this religious
terrorism including one comrade who was shot and had eight bullets in him
from a G-3 rifle. Only his willpower and hatred against the cruelty of the
state and the Taliban kept him alive.�
In another incident the Taliban killed 14 people in one village and hanged
their bodies from trees, declaring that nobody could touch them. Only two
dared to bury the bodies. Both became leading members of the IMT. Clearly,
Malala�s battle plan was pinned on a simple ground assault of an alternate
worldview. It had no room for inhuman drones or gun-toting fanatics.
Malala�s kindred spirits are legion.
One person she has a striking resemblance to, in my view, is Rachel Corrie,
the American girl who single-handedly unnerved the Israeli army by not
being afraid to be crushed by their bulldozers for a just cause. That was
also the battle plan of Maiwand�s heroine.
*The writer is Dawn�s correspondent in Delhi.*
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