This one’s for you if you’re interested in the reality of life in Pakistan, or how a teenager from Swat Valley became the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Malala’s book is easy to read and gives a fascinating first hand account of life in Pakistan over the last two decades. However much you read/watch/listen to the news, reading about life under the Taliban is shocking.

Malala is clearly an incredible young girl, whose courage and commitment to improving the lives of women in Pakistan is inspiring. But there are refreshing reminders that she is just like any other teenage girl and I loved her description of one girl stirring things up as “putting masala on the situation”.

“While most of us can’t live with our wives, he can’t live without his.”

On Pashtunwali code, “If a man in one family is killed or hurt by another man, revenge must be exacted to restore nang [honour]”.

“Our own intelligence service, ISI, virtually created the Taliban.”

“The Quran teaches us sabre- patience- but often it feels that we have forgotten the word and think Islam means women sitting at home in purdah or wearing burqas while men do jihad”

Speaking of the MMA, a group of 5 religious parties who were involved in training the Taliban, “it was as though they wanted to remove all traces of womankind from public life”

“First the taliban took our music, then our Buddhas, then our history”

“the girls of the Red Mosque madrasa…raided houses they claimed were being used as massage centres, they kidnapped women they said were prostitutes…When it suits the Taliban, women can be vocal and visible.”

Malala’s father “We are dependent on these mullahs to learn the Quaran. But you just use him to learn the literal meaning of the words; don’t follow his explanations and interpretation. Only learn what God says. His words are divine messages, which you are free and independent to interpret.”

“The Taliban could take our pens and books, but they couldn’t stop our minds from thinking.”

“When you are in the Taliban you have 100 per cent life security”

“Education is neither Eastern nor Western, it is human”

“Faqir [Mohammed] had a $200,000 bounty on his head  yet there he was sitting in a government offical’s house having dinner”

Why Malala’s father got involved in politics- “When half your leaders tell lies and the other half is negotiating with the Taliban, there is nowhere to go. One has to speak out.”

“As I found with my ear, no one knows how much power they have in their each and every organ until they lose one.”


I found Malala’s glossary helpful and thought I would include a few of the words here for anyone as ignorant as me.

jihad- holy war/internal struggle

purdah- segregation or seclusion of women, wearing a veil

madrasa- school for Islamic instruction

mullah- a derogatory term for an Islamic cleric- From Google.