“Haan main Malala hoon! Haan main Malala hoon!” (Yes I am Malala! Yes I am Malala!). Outside the Sindh Assembly building, children displaced by floods shouted. Many of them were even unaware of who the girl was, but still joined the commemoration.
They were among a number of renowned figures who had gathered for a rally organised by the South Asian Women in Media (SAWM) in support of “Education for All and Peace for the Region” on Saturday, November 10, declared “Malala Day” across the world by the United Nations.
On 9 October, Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head in an assassination attempt claimed by the Taliban in the scenic Swat valley. She was critically injured in the attack and remained unconscious for days. After a successful surgery, the 15-year-old girls’ education campaigner regained consciousness in a hospital in the United Kingdom, where she was sent for intensive rehabilitation.
“Thousands of Malalas are needed to lead the country to progress,” remarked Sindh Assembly speaker, Nisar Khuhro, while addressing the participants. “We established a girls school so that each one of them can turn out to be a Malala.”
“She risked her life for the sake of education. Her attackers are the enemies of humanity,” he said hinting to the Taliban, who claimed responsibility for the attack. SAWM’s Fouzia Naeem Khan applauded the masses for speaking out against the attack on Malala.
Now the government would become serious about the state of education and improve conditions at government schools, the women activist hoped, saying there should not be a single day to celebrate Malala’s bravery but everyday should be remembered for how the teenage girl defied the Taliban to go to school.
Ameena Saiyid, the managing director of Oxford University Press, announced that the blogs written by the girls’ education campaigner would be soon published in the form of a book. Of the 60 million children in Pakistan, only 40 million go to school, she added.
Students from different schools had also come to attend the event, said they had been praying for Malala at their schools. From a school in Lyari, Arfa Mohammad, who performed Allama Iqbal’s “Lab pay aati hai duaa”, said: “My teacher told me about her and we all prayed that she gets well soon.”
A group of students from the Happy Home School also performed a small play, narrating the story of Malala and her attack. “Extremist elements in the country want to destroy it by bombarding schools and attacking students,” said a Szabist student, Mohammad Murad.
Published in The Express Tribune, November 11th, 2012.