PESHAWAR: The positive global and local response has invigorated Malala Yousafzai with additional courage and she will continue her efforts for education, especially among girls, by setting up the Malala Education Foundation.
“Over 400 schools in Swat have been fully destroyed by militants and I would like to work for the rehabilitation of damaged schools,” said the 14-year-old, who has earned international fame and recognition for raising her voice against the Taliban.
Malala also plans to play active role in politics after completing her education.
“I want to become an honest and hard-working politician as our country badly needs committed political leaders.”
Responding to a question, Malala said she is impressed from the charismatic personality of Benazir Bhutto and politics of Bacha Khan.
“Even though I was a student of class five in 2009, I decided to convey the concerns of female students to the outer world. For this purpose, my father guided me to contribute diaries to BBC under the pen name of `Gul Makai’,” she said.
“I made contributions to BBC regularly and reflected the sentiments of my terrorised classmates and neighbours.”
She also expressed the suffering of displaced people after migrating to Shangla when the government launched a military operation for purging the plagued Swat from militants.
“I was scared enough to see pictures of bodies hanging in Swat. But the decision to ban girls from going to school was shocking for me and I decided to stand against the forces of backwardness,” she remarked.
“It very painful for me and my classmates to hear that our school may be closed and we would not be allowed to get education,” she added.
Her courage and bravery to risk her life to highlight the real face of militants ultimately paid off when she was nominated for an international peace prize. She beat 93 contestants from 42 countries to be nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize 2011.
“The news about nomination for an international peace award was very exciting for me and my family because I earned a good name for my country,” she said.
Though the prize was won by a 17-year-old South African girl, the Government of Pakistan decided to encourage the girl and awarded her with a National Peace Prize, making her the first child to be honoured with the prestigious award.
In addition to that, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also announced a cash prize of Rs1 million for her bravery, while the governments of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Sindh also honoured her with cash prizes of Rs500,000 each. When asked about security concern, as she is now a public figure and role model for youth, Malala said she does not want security.
“I feel secure in my city and don’t want to be pointed out due to deployment of security officials around me.”
Ziauddin Yusafzai, her proud father, said, “I never imagined my little daughter would make us so proud and bring laurels to the country.”
Ziauddin, who runs a private school, said he fully supported Malala and never prohibited her to write against the Taliban for security purposes.
“I named her Malala after being inspired from Malala of Maiwand (Afghanistan), a brave lady who urged her countrymen to fight against intruders through her poetry,” he said
“She has fulfilled my dream and played the role of Malala in the true sense,” he remarked.
Published in The Express Tribune, January 16th, 2012.