Chemical weapons, Malala and Hype: A Nobel Peace?

Those who spent days hyping up the Nobel Peace Prize are now saying it is a load of nonsense.

The reason is simple. 'Their' candidate did not get it. There goes all talk about a unified world.

Technically, this year's winner is the right choice, if we understand that the Nobel Peace is for disarmament. The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) was awarded the 2013 prize "for its extensive efforts to eliminate chemical weapons".

However, it is clearly a political decision. Despite its avowed independence, somebody is pulling the strings. What exactly is the definition of "champions of peace"? This year there were 259 contenders, and there is no peace in sight. Most parts of the world are in a state of constant disturbance, if not civil war.

Getting rid of chemical weapons is indeed necessary, and important. One cannot even dispute the topicality, for the Nobel Prize organisation has stated:

"OPCW inspectors are currently working in Damascus on a U.N.-backed disarmament mission to verify and destroy Syrian President Bashar Assad's arsenal of chemical weapons."

This is where one must pause. Does an organisation become relevant only after the chemical weapons have been used, or should it not be able to sniff them out and preempt any strike? Is it not valid to question other means that might push such abuse of weapons? How would OPCW respond to individual nations interfering in what is their work?

Fact is, it is not just their work. The United Nations has a history of taking bad calls, and people similar to those who sit in the U.N. also constitute the Nobel Commitee.

Syria is eyeball-grabbing in so many ways. A dictator, rebels depending on Big Brothers (yes, it is a 'plural'istic world in interesting ways), and then the self-righteous war against terror.

One can safely assume that the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to 'own' the Syrian construct, if not manufacture it.

This is probably one of those rare times when a message is being sent under public glare to these nations as to who is boss. Within the western world, it will also come across as a politically-correct decision.


Most Nobel Peace decisions are pleasers. There was not a chance in hell for Russian President Vladimir Putin to win it, forget Edward Snowden or Bradley (now Chelsea Manning). These are thorns in the way of how sanctified systems works, although Putin has his own system that is questionable.

The other politically-correct choice would have been Malala Yousafzai. In the run-up to the awards, she has appeared on primetime talk shows, received other awards, has released a book. She had most of Pakistan rooting for her, as also a number of people in the West.

It is easy to understand why. At 16, she would be the youngest. The West has saved her from the Taliban. She talks about pen against weapons (never mind that her audience uses drones). She even mentions little children in Syria.

If Malala were a country, some superpower would be trying to bring in democracy and park its forces and arms there.

A couple of articles even said that she does not need the Nobel, the Nobel needs her. With so much over-the-top basic acceptance, there would be little space for understanding nuances.

Those who rant against the 'Malala Haters' expose their need to be in control. They can do this only by toeing the line the West takes.

Pakistan is pretty much indebted to the West for almost everything politically. It cannot afford not to like what the West likes. The real problem is that the vocal segment of Pakistanis is uncomfortable that those raising questions do not have a problem with the young Malala and her fight for education, but with them and their stupor that prevents them from acting and choosing instead to ride on the fame of one who was targeted.

Reacting to the accusation that she is speaking for the West (this viewpoint is mainly from the Taliban, and the professional liberals are giving it importance only because they need to look good in comparison), the opinionators came up with the argument that she always talks about Swat and Pakistan. Naturally. Will anybody be interested or even tolerate her views on Haiti, let alone a government that had to shut down? It is like diaspora literature. It has to stick to its brief and not veer away from the exotic.

In a typical subcontinental response after the award was announced, the Nobel Peace Prize was questioned. Had Malala won, it would have been a perfectly legitimate award. Sherry Rehman was among those who said, "Whole of Mingora is praying for Malala to win the award." This was supposed to convey the sentiments as a 'proud Pakistani'. Indeed, an honour is a matter of pride, but why the double-speak then by the hype-pushers?

It included the chairman of the Pakistan People's Party, Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, who was depending on what the bookies said, that "Malala is the second favourite to win Nobel?! Who's beating her? Don't tell me they're giving it to Obama again?"

After the announcement he declared her prime minister: "Wazir-e-Azam Malala Yousafzai." His humour surfaces only when his party is not in power. Would he have said this if PPP was in the seat?

Simmering with discontent, they have now transformed her into a queen of hearts. It really has all along been about them.

© Farzana Versey


Also A Mirage Called Malala


  1. FV,

    Food for the gourmet's thought:

    They should give it to Narendra Modi. Because in Gujarat where, violent communal strife was the rule rather than an exception, he has ensured uninterrupted communal peace for more than a decade.


  2. F&F:

    I assume you are not saying this as a Modi supporter.

    The credit for there being no riots should go to the people of Gujarat, who did not rise in revolt despite many losing their homes and trades, and living in refugee camps.

    Has Modi visited those camps like he went to Uttarakhand to rescue flood victims of his state (and his men gave an inflated figure of 15,000)?

    Just asking...of course I know you are not his well-wisher!

  3. FV,

    You forgot the smiley. Anyway consider the following.

    1. No riots for 11 years. Muslims of Gujarat voting for BJP in droves. VHP criticising Modi in foul language for being "anti-Hindu". Muslim clerics of the state blessing his govt.

    2. Mulayam afraid to go to Muzaffarnagar. Mulayam pleading with Muslim audience of his speech not to punish him for mistakes of his ministers. UP govt flying a cleric booked for hate-speech in special plane to meet CM. UP govt selectively targetting govt officers with nothing but the spectre of loss of Muslim vote on their mind.

    3. Cong minister saying Muslims need not pay back govt loans. Cong PM saying Muslims have first right on nation's resources. Cong leaders visiting houses of Jihadis who opened fire on cops.

    4. Independent (!) journalists and NGOwallahs making careers attacking case 1 and utterly ignoring the others.

    I didn't mean you, of course not! Perish the thought.


  4. From time of inception its a political tool, a reward platform or that authenticity to something otherwise not authentic. Nothing beyond, and as good as how real a reality show is, but how the advertisement makes the reality show to sound like.

    Same authenticity is what Jansangh took from JayaPrakash Narayan in 1976, Modi is seeking with the US Visa, or BJP trys with its teams of neutral activists babas thinktanks experts journalists media.

    Not as bad as that blackcomedy post the otherday with earwaxDNA & twitterCIA
    Not as good as a walking therasa.
    Cos, as always, the saints live (or dead) unsung, uncared, unknown, unseen.

    Thanks. TC. Bye

  5. Coming back to the subject , the Nobel Prize should be towards recognizing persisting and solid contribution to peace in the world or a region , wherever . Seeing the Anantpour interview if Malala on CNN , I gauged an estimation of the child. She is to be commended for her steadfast stand on women's education , but from her limited expectation if what education can do , namely qualify as doctor or teacher , was left with the impression that Masala does not stand for anything more than the thousands of other girls who were similarly deprived and assaulted by the Taliban . So there was no uniqueness to merit a Nobel Prize.
    My apologies to @rabies who I had ridiculed on Twitter

  6. Bee:

    Yes, the saints, or the concerned, live unsung. We do not seem to have any space for those, until and unless we make the cause celebre.

    In rewarding a few, the plan is to ensure a reward for oneself.

  7. Sasu:

    The problem is to expect anything on a large scale at all from one who is now leading an even more protected life that she did under the Taliban.

    As usual, the fork tongues now talk about leaving her alone to live like a teenager. Seriously, they'll have to wait for another 'moment', and knowing how these things work it is likely to happen at regular intervals.

  8. F&F:

    It is nobody's case that other parties and politicians do misuse their power, and they are questioned. What do you think the Coalgate, 2G cases are about? Some continue to question the 1984 riots, and there has been an apology, although it is not enough. 

    What has Modi done? This business about Muslims voting in droves does not make a difference when he runs the show, has shown contempt by transferring officers. 

    As regards, NGOs and the media, smiley or no smiley, you dare not imply me in any of this nonsense. I do not tom-tom being an 'independent' anything. I know I am. 

    Now, let us just assume you are not speaking on behalf of or for anyone. No more on this here. 

  9. FV,

    Malala was writing a blog for girls on BBC Urdu back in 2007-8, and was interviewed by Hamid Mir of Geo News on live TV in Mingora in 2009 with the Taliban Commander standing by her side when she was 13 yrs old, and when asked if she would accept Taliban, she spoke right out that she would if they allowed girls' education. This was the time that they were blowing up girls' schools. The Taliban Commander said they would allow Malala to go to school. That was that.

    Then when she went on protesting re girls/women conditions in Swat, they put a bullet in her head.

    It's not about the Nobel. It's about leadership.

    This little girl is gifted, and destined for greatness. I have never seen such confidence and self-belief in anyone. She can make a difference if not sabotaged. May God help her.


  10. Zeemax:

    I do know she wrote a blog for the BBC. (I have linked an earlier piece at the bottom of the post.) Interesting that the Taliban chief was present during an interview. Recently, she told Jon Stewart about how she would react if she ever met the Taliban.

    She can make a difference if she contributes a chunk of her huge earnings on the book deal for the schools in Swat. I hear it is still a dismal situation. 

    {This little girl is gifted, and destined for greatness. I have never seen such confidence and self-belief in anyone. She can make a difference if not sabotaged. May God help her.}

    I would be surprised if she were the only self-assured young person in Pakistan. She has already been sabotaged and that has worked for her. Thus far. Till Gordon Brown decides that Edelman will not handle her PR anymore. 

    PS: Have the Libs co-opted you, too?!


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