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Chapters 17–18 Summary and Analysis

Chapter 17

Malala documents the injustices suffered by the citizens of the Swat Valley at the hands of the Pakistani army and the Taliban. Women particularly faced financial hardship when their men were caught in the crosshairs between the Pakistani army and the Taliban. They could not remarry unless their husbands were declared dead. Often, they had no means of legal redress when their husbands were taken by the Pakistani army. These missing men left their families destitute and in dire need. Muslim women were not the only ones who suffered. Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, currently sits on Pakistan's death row under the country's Blasphemy Law. Meanwhile, Salman Taseer (a former Muslim governor of Punjab who openly supported Bibi) was assassinated for opposing the Blasphemy Law. Ziauddin himself received death threats for speaking out against Fazlullah.

Meanwhile, the CIA's drone strikes troubled Malala, and ordinary Pakistanis questioned why the presence of American spies like Raymond Davis was tolerated in Pakistan. The highlight of this chapter is Malala's mention of Osama bin Laden's killing by US Navy SEALS in Abbottabad. Malala reports that many Pakistanis were horrified when they discovered that the Pakistani intelligence services had no prior knowledge of the stealth raid. Later in the chapter, we learn that Malala was nominated for the Amsterdam KidsRights international peace prize and awarded Pakistan's first National Peace Prize. With numerous award prizes, Malala and her family were able to pay for family necessities, renovate the Khushal School, and pioneer an education foundation for girls.

Chapter 18

Malala finds it ironic that Pakistan, a country that boasts a former female head of state and Muslim women in professional capacities, continues to make little progress in expanding women's rights. Despite her concerns, Malala is heartened by the results of her activist work. In January 2012, the Sindh government in Karachi renamed a girls' secondary school after Malala. The entire family flew to Karachi for the ceremony. While there, the Yousafzais visited numerous schools and Mohammad Ali Jinnah's mausoleum. The mausoleum contained a small museum where Malala's family were able to view Jinnah's historic speeches. In contemplating Jinnah's contribution to Pakistan, Malala theorized that Jinnah would have been saddened by the divisions in modern Pakistan. She wishes that Muslims in her country would address practical concerns instead of spending time fighting among themselves or making war against people of other religions. In this chapter, we also learn that a Pakistani journalist, Shehla Anjum, was instrumental in warning Ziauddin about threats to Malala's life. In response, the Swat Valley police offered bodyguards, but Ziauddin knew that this wouldn't deter the Taliban. Instead, he suggested that Malala attend boarding school in Abbottabad. Meanwhile, an army colonel warned that such a move could be counterproductive; his advice prompted Malala to stay put. The chapter ends with Malala contemplating her bittersweet decision. Although she relished the idea of staying, she was still disappointed that she came in second in the March exams.


In Chapter 17, Malala notes the precarious relationship between Washington and Islamabad. Malala's mention of CIA agent Raymond Davis is significant. In January 2011, Davis shot and killed two armed men in Lahore. He was rumored to have known the men, supposed militant operatives from the FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Area) region. Pakistan's ISI was said to have been monitoring Davis. The Obama administration heavily lobbied Pakistan for Davis's release. In the end, after a diyat payment (financial compensation to the victims' families), all charges were dropped against Davis. He was released, but the incident continues to affect Washington's relations with Islamabad.

To date, Pakistan has demanded the removal of all CIA operatives, but Washington shows little inclination...

(The entire section is 1,031 words.)