I have a personal interest in Malala's case. In November 2009 I visited the beautiful Swat valley, where she and her family lived, and which had fallen prey to the Taliban. While there, I had a moving conversation with Malala's father, Ziauddin Yousafzai - a human-rights campaigner who ran an independent school for girls.
With its mountains and waterfalls, Swat had once been a tourist destination, a place where generations of Pakistanis went for their honeymoons. But in 2008, a vicious group of Taliban moved in from the adjacent tribal areas and virtually took over the valley.
They shut down girls' schools, including the one run by Yousafzai, cut off the heads of anyone who challenged them, and murdered women. At this time, 11-year-old Malala started writing an anonymous blog for the BBC about life under the Taliban.
The residents felt abandoned by their political leaders...
I sat in the garden of a local architect's home, talking with prominent Swat civic leaders, including Malala's father. He told me that even after the army supposedly vanquished the Taliban and he went to reopen his school, he was afraid the Taliban would kill him. He slept every night in a different house.
"We had terrorists in our valley," he told me. "They wanted to negate our right to culture and poetry, and they wanted to destroy the special musical heritage of our valley. They want to impose their culture on us."
Then Yousafzai got to the point that most disturbed him: Pakistan's political leaders were failing to tell their own people that the Taliban presented a mortal threat, and could only drag the country backward.
When it came to fighting the Taliban, he said, "Pakistan's religious parties, even Imran Khan [the famous cricket player turned politician], all say it's America's war, not my war. How can they say this if my children are being killed in Swat?"
This brave man was referring then to the girl students from his school who were at risk from the Taliban. Today it is his own daughter who is at death's door.
That puts a somewhat different complexion on the common trope of the West imposing its culture - as if there is no non-Western interest in poetry, music and the education of girls. But perhaps this is just one more of those bedtime stories and simplistic morality tales.