Why did she come back now?
By MA Siddiqi
Malala Yousufzai has star power.
The international world sees her as a wronged Nobel laureate who is a symbol of resistance to extremist thinking (read: the Taliban).
She clearly has a bright future in Pakistan—but what path will she take?
We know by now that the “Security Establishment” brought her back. That is a fancy word for important people very high up on the food chain.
It would have been impossible for Malala to return without extremely high-level security. And you know who is capable of giving her that.
Bringing Malala back would have one effect. It would give the world a soft image of Pakistan. This is one of the things that Army Chief Qamar Javed Bajwa wants. It is part of what we are now calling the Bajwa Doctrine. This is his formula. (Every army chief has one). He wants to promote peace in Pakistan. Malala is a symbol of peace. She can also be an incredible political force.
It is being said that the army chief will take Malala to Swat. Let’s see if this pans out. It would certainly be sad if she came to Pakistan but did not see her home. It could send the wrong message, that Swat is still not safe for her. If they do go, it will most likely be April 1.
The odd part
Malala was warmly welcomed by Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at a big event. This was interesting as his ruling party, the PML-N, is an ally of the conservative and orthodox JUI-F.
The JUI-F is a strong party in some settled parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Its dominance has to be broken there through Imran Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf.
Malala may want to stay aloof from politics. She may want to only be seen as an independent celebrity. But she has political leanings and a political platform. She could help bring about long-term change. Many people believe this.
She and her politically smart father have come to measure their chances up.
She may come back just before the elections and then decide if she wants to join a political party.
The security establishment is undecided about Imran Khan. But if it decides to go for him, then Malala could join the PTI.
If the security establishment favours Shehbaz Sharif, then she could join his party.
One argument is that Malala might want to join mainstream politics and pursue her agenda of education for girls through her fund that has a lot of money.