As the youngest Nobel Laureate of all time, Malala Yousafzai, tied the knot with Asser Malik early in November, a slew of differently-opinioned messages cropped up on a variety of media, as they always do.
While most across the globe wished the couple the best in their married life – from Bollywood stars like Sonam Kapoor to Apple CEO Tim Cook – Pakistanis – ever the dissenters when it comes to all things Malala – decided to eclipse the shining sun of their happiness. As, indeed, they always do.
"Why she did Nikkah..? (sic.) She was agree on partnership... So??" Demanded one angry twitterati, citing Malala's now-infamous Vogue interview in which she expressed her skepticism of the institute of marriage.
"Marriage ke papers hai ya partnership ke?" ("Is this a marriage agreement or partnership?") quipped another troll on Twitter, throwing shade on Malala's initial nod in favour of a 'partnership' over signing papers to officially tie the knot.
It should be noted that Malala has since further clarified her stance on marriage – for those who must insist on continuing to care about the matter – stating that her reservations were due to the cultural interpretations of the institute, which more often than not carry misogynistic and patriarchal imprints. She questions the ‘imbalance of power’ that follows the signing of the contract, not the act itself.
“Many girls I grew up with were married even before they had the opportunity to decide on a career for themselves,” writes Malala for the British Vogue (again). “One friend had a child when she was just 14-years-old. […] And so, when Sirin Kale asked me about relationships in my British Vogue cover story last July, I responded like I had so many times before. Knowing the dark reality many of my sisters face, I found it hard to think of the concept of marriage. I said what I had so often said before – that maybe it was possible that marriage was not for me.”
From a position of privilege – like many readers of the English language across the globe – it is easy to misunderstand where Malala’s earlier opinion on marriage came from.
When her interview first came out, Malala faced an unprecedented backlash from Pakistanis, with one twitter user going as far as to claim that it was a pity that the Taliban missed ‘a single perfect target’ – her head – hence sparing her life, leading Pakistanis to bear the ‘shame’ of her statement on marriage. The same interview reportedly brought her gang rape threats, indicating the level of intolerance within the Pakistani society.
It is rather amusing to observe that Pakistanis were angry back when Malala didn’t want to get married – and angry now that she has gotten married. Hafsa Lodi hits the nail on the ‘single perfect target’ when she asks for The Independent: ‘When exactly will she be good enough?’
The good news for the newly-wed couple, however, is that Malala is ‘good enough’ for Asser, and Asser seems to be ‘good enough’ for her.
In a recent interview with the Daily Mail, Malala has expressed her gratitude for finding a partner who did not conform to the traditional mould, thereby changing her radical views on marriage and leading her to exchanging the vows a week ago.
Malala’s husband, Asser Malik, on the other hand, holds his own in the cricketing world: he is the General Manager High Performance at the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), who has previously worked for the PSL team, Multan Sultans. How the couple managed to meet is still a mystery – one that us, perpetually unimpressed Pakistanis can always be trusted to be thoroughly interested in digging up.