The White House invited sixteen-year-old Pakistani women’s rights activist Malala Yousafzai to meet the President, First Lady, and their daughter Malia on Friday. The youngest-ever Nobel Peace Prize contender made the most of the photo opportunity, warning Obama that U.S. drone strikes were fueling terrorist attacks.
“I thanked President Obama for the United States’ work in supporting education in Pakistan and Afghanistan and for Syrian refugees,” she said in the statement. “I also expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact.”
The official White House statement about the meeting did not mention this comment, instead declaring that the U.S. “joins with the Pakistani people and so many around the world to celebrate Malala’s courage and her determination to promote the right of all girls to attend school and realize their dreams.”
Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by Taliban agents a year ago for speaking out against the ban on girls’ education, also gave an eloquent defense of nonviolent resistance and the power of peaceful dialogue on the Daily Show last week.
The evidence on whether or not civilian deaths from drone strikes lead to more terrorist action is mixed. However, terrorists do reportedly invoke U.S. drone strikes as a recruiting tool. The Obama administration recently decided to end drone strikes in Pakistan due to mounting public outrage.