JUBAIL, SAUDI ARABIA: The services of two of Swat’s residents need to be acknowledged by all Pakistanis. The first is Farman Ali Khan who lost his life after he had rescued several others during floods in Saudi Arabia in 2009. He was posthumously awarded the King Abdul Aziz Medal by the Saudi government and later the Pakistan government also conferred a gallantry medal on him.
The other star is Malala Yousufzai, who has been in the news for the past couple of days. She was selected as one of the five nominees for the ‘International Children’s Peace Prize’, which is given by an organisation based in the Netherlands. Malala is a student of class eight and has become the voice of thousands of others like her who were deprived of education during the Taliban’s reign of terror in 2009. That was the time when the militants were destroying girls’ schools and colleges all across Swat and other parts of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Fata. This was also a time when anyone who didn’t agree with the militants was lashed or even slaughtered and then hanged in Mingora’s infamous ‘Khooni Chowk’.
It was at this time that the young girl began writing a diary of daily events happening around her. She was able to pass on these stories of terror to the outside world when Pakistan’s own media was, by and large, not publishing such material. This was also the time that the government of Pakistan seemed to have caved in to the Taliban, accepting their rule in Swat.
Malala is a guiding star for many oppressed sections of society who are unable to raise their voices against the forces of fear and terror.
Bravo Farman Ali Khan and Malala Yousufzai!
Published in The Express Tribune, November 26th, 2011.