A tribute to Malala

Published: January 27, 2013
We may call Malala a hero, but the truth is that we as a country do not deserve her. PHOTO: FILE

We may call Malala a hero, but the truth is that we as a country do not deserve her. PHOTO: FILE

At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Malala Yousufzai, who was shot and wounded by the Taliban for her efforts on behalf of girls’ education in Swat, was cited by multiple well-known individuals as an inspirational figure to children worldwide. Among those toasting her influence were former British prime minister and current UN special education envoy Gordon Brown as well as Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt. It is heartening to see how Malala’s message has spread and is a tribute to her courage and bravery. Few adults would be willing to risk their lives to fight for freedom, let alone teenagers. Even now, Malala has refused to give up her fight, although no one would blame her for doing so after being targeted for assassination.

The one thing that should be clear is that Malala’s global celebrity status is a reflection only of her immense character and fortitude; it is not something we as a country should take pride in. When Malala was fighting her lonely battle in Swat, we did nothing to help her. Even the military operation that was eventually carried out against the Taliban was done so grudgingly. Before that, the ANP, which counts itself as a liberal party, was prepared to sign the Nizam-e-Adal with the Taliban. That Malala is still alive today is mainly due to luck, not the efforts of the state.

We may have read Malala’s heartbreaking diaries describing life under Taliban rule but we have not learned any lesson from them. There are countless other Malalas in the tribal areas, who have to put up with the same brutality, yet we still talk of peace deals and accepting the reality of the Taliban. There are those who still cling to the belief that Malala must have been targeted by Western spy agencies or that the attack was a fake one. Then there are others who accept the reality of the attack but do not want to do anything to punish the perpetrators. We may call Malala a hero, but the truth is that we as a country do not deserve her.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 27th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (6)

  • G. Din
    Jan 27, 2013 - 2:28AM

    “We may call Malala a hero, but the truth is that we as a country do not deserve her.”
    Shows that God cares enough about a beleaguered people to send one of His/Her angels in harm’s way, doesn’t it?


  • Jan 27, 2013 - 2:59AM

    Great piece – sharing this.


  • Jan 27, 2013 - 6:00AM

    fake or real, not sure what the truth is but this whole (Malala) episode makes me raise my eye brow – in a bizarre way.


  • pakiindi
    Jan 27, 2013 - 8:44AM

    The whole world recognizes the importance of Malala, but we still fail to. Is it any surprise that the people of the world laugh at us …. quietly?


  • toticalling
    Jan 27, 2013 - 10:26AM

    Those who think killing will scare people are not wrong, but crazy.


  • goggi
    Jan 27, 2013 - 5:39PM

    As muslim children of Cathedral High School, Lahore, we also read the New Testament, we read Shakespeare, we read from the sage Gautama Buddha, from Chandra Gupta Maurya, we learnt singing…….. and above all, we learnt a natural and human social interaction with females and non-muslims (I remember in our tenth class we were 14 boys and 14 girls)!

    That is what I call a liberal, progressive and unprejudiced education.

    As far as Malala is concerned, she and her modesty was a symbol of OUR cultural values, unlike the ugly, stone-age, repressive arab values or the ultra-modern western values.


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