As Malala Yousafzai’s 16th birthday was celebrated across the world with a unanimous call for global education and marked by a speech by Yousafzai herself at the UN Headquarters in New York on Friday, the day went by in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) like any other.
With the exception of a walk in Swat led by the Awami National Party, there were no public tributes to the teenager. Malala underwent tricky recovery after being shot by militants nine months ago in Swat as ‘punishment’ for her pursuit of education.
Political parties and organisations known for working towards children’s rights and universal education were surprisingly quiet about Malala Day.
“We appreciate Malala Yousafzai’s efforts to promote girls’ education,” maintained Ayesha Gulalai, MNA and Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) Senior Vice President (women wing). Gulalai added the provincial government declared an ‘education emergency’ because education topped PTI’s to-do list. However, she expressed surprise over why international and government organisations in the province “did not observe the day with zeal and fervour”.
“It’s our negligence as our organisation should have organised an activity on the day,” shared Aurat Foundation Resident Director Shabana. “We appreciate Malala’s struggle for peace and education.” Organisations working on education and child rights should have come up with a collective activity, added the resident director, terming such activities a “need of the hour”.
According to Shirkatgah Programme Officer Shagufta, the non-governmental organisation was unable to mark Malala Day because of “official activities and Ramazan”. Instead, she criticised the K-P government for holding no event to acknowledge the now global icon for girl’s education.
“Silence on the day was unfair as the girl put her life in danger and is still continuing with education,” argued Azra Nafees Yousafzai, the editor of Sahar, a magazine focusing on social and cultural issues in K-P and the tribal belt.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 14th, 2013.