ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (ViaNews) – Malala Yousafzai is a human rights activist and the youngest Nobel Prize laureate. Despite her impressive curriculum at such an early age, 21 years old, her popularity among the Pakistan population is somewhat low. Let’s find out why.

She was born in the small village in the Swat District in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. This is the girl who was reportedly shot in the head by the Taliban for going to school and promoting girl’s education. She survived and has continued to promote girl’s education.

Why is Malala’s Popularity so low in her home country?

“Do you like Malala?”
We conducted an informal survey where we asked this simple question to a sample of dozens of Pakistani nationals among the top fifteen cities of Pakistan, including the federal capital. The results showed us that her popularity levels in Pakistan are low.

What exactly are people thinking about her?

We collected a few comments from different social media sources. Most people have great sympathy for Malala’s activism towards promoting girls education and for managing to survive the head injury after a reportedly Taliban attack on her school. However, some of the Pakistanis we talked to classified the incident as “a bit too dramatic” and that could be the root cause why some people distrust her.

Youtube video comment by Hammad Shahzad: "Malala and Pakistani Taliban are an agent of the United States and Israel against Pakistani people"
Youtube video comment by Hammad Shahzad: “Malala and Pakistani Taliban are an agent of the United States and Israel against Pakistani people”

Umair from Comsats University Wah says: “She is getting all the publicity because of the book in which she is trying to tell people that Pakistan is not safe. Plus, there were two other girls along with her when she was attacked by the Taliban. Why is no one talking about them?”

Instagram users call Malala a "drama queen". Photo by: Instagram.
Instagram users call Malala a “drama queen”. Photo by: Instagram.

Raza, a social activist from Islamabad says: “She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her bravery and promoting education. My question is where is the award for the school’s principal whose life was sacrificed for the education of kids, the same day when Malala was injured by the terrorist attack? Where is the award for the APS (Army Public School in Peshawar) students who were there that day with Malala and the went to school the day after the terrorist attack?”

This is a screenshot from the Instagram of Ali Khan Tareen, a social entrepreneur and the son of a famous political leader from Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) centrist political party.

An Instagram friend of Ali Khan Tareen warning his friends to "be cautious," when referring to Malala. Photo by: Instagram of Ali Khan Tareen.
An Instagram friend of Ali Khan Tareen warning his friends to “be cautious,” when referring to Malala. Photo by: Instagram of Ali Khan Tareen.

A lot of people appreciate her work promoting education but they still reportedly perceive the attack as too dramatic and suspicious.

Abdul Hameed from Rajanpur said he likes Malala because “at a very young age, she fought for her right and that’s very rare.”

Amna from Kamra said she didn’t like Malala because others like “Abdul Sattar Edhi, Arfa Karim, and others are heroes in Pakistan but were never awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.” Amna can’t also understand “why she can’t live in her own country.”

Marina Aapi from Peshawar said she likes Malala because “she fought for the girl’s rights to be educated” and that “she [Malala] requested leaders to provide free schooling.”

Maryam Iftikhar from Rawalpindi said she liked Malala for “her efforts towards equal education rights” but she fears she “will be used politically by external powers”.

Nimrah's comment about Malala. Photo by: Andleeb Shah.
Nimrah’s comment about Malala. Photo by: Andleeb Shah.

Nimrah Yousa from Islamabad said she didn’t like Malala “because she had shown a negative image of Pakistan all around the world. That Pakistanis don’t support education for girls.”

Umer from Quetta said “There are a few controversies around Malala Vousafzal but I do like her and I’m proud of her. She’s the only Noble Peace Prize winner from Pakistan. Everyone should be proud of her because she’s not defaming Pakistan but trying to promote girls education, a harsh reality which is quite bitter for us to swallow. Yes, there are many others who are suffering more than her and are quite
bold in facing those realities, but we Can‘t compare her with the rest. She has the right to live her life according to her wish. Much of the hatred against Malala is because most of us can‘t see, or don‘t want to see, her having success speaking against the cultural norms. Rather than cherishing her success, we try to pull her leg and defame her. Going against the norm isn’t an easy task but this girl, Malala, is doing it quite bravely.”

Why Pakistanis think she is a fraud?

Even after the reportedly head injury caused by the terror attack in her school and promoting education in her own country, how could someone dislike her?

The narrative behind such antagonism towards Malala, according to our informal survey, mostly goes back to the day she was attacked in her own school. People often wonder where and who are the two girls who were attacked together with Malala? Why no one knows their story?

Malala in the hospital on October 10, 2012. Photo by: Courtesy of Dawn.com.
Malala in the hospital on October 10, 2012. Photo by: Courtesy of Dawn.com.

Another common reason for distrust is the fact she was reportedly attacked on October 9 and a bullet hit her in the left side of her head. According to her bibliography, she was submitted to an operation where a part of her skull was removed to treat her swelling brain. However, in other photos, just 10 days after people reportedly see her with no scar, bandage, or signs of shaved hair on her head.

Malala at Queen Elizabeth Hospital on October 19, 2012. Photo by: Malala's website.
Malala at Queen Elizabeth Hospital on October 19, 2012. Photo by: Malala’s website.