Nobel Peace Prize winner: The little girl who was cut out for greatness

Published: October 11, 2014
Holding a backpack in Birmingham, England before returning to school for the first time in March 2013. PHOTO: AFP

Holding a backpack in Birmingham, England before returning to school for the first time in March 2013. PHOTO: AFP

As the world celebrates Malala, her former teacher reflects on her journey . Holding a backpack in Birmingham, England before returning to school for the first time in March 2013. PHOTO: AFP At a prize-giving ceremony at Malala’s school in Mingora. PHOTO: FAZAL KHALIQ

As the world and Pakistan celebrated Malala Yousafazai’s Nobel Peace Prize award on Friday, I recollected moments from her school life and how this little girl inspired her teachers and fellow friends.

As her teachers, we always felt that she was very talented not only in her studies but also in co-curricular activities. She was always the subject of teachers’ conversations and, despite her youth, left us surprised by her quick-witted approach to every topic.

I still remember when she was in the fifth grade and a team from a regional TV channel came to interview her about the importance of the mother tongue on the occasion of International Mother Tongue Day. To our surprise, little Malala spoke fluently and confidently, perhaps better than any of the adults.

In February 2012, Malala was invited to a foundation laying ceremony at the very last minute. She was brought to the event in the middle of the ceremony and the host invited her to say a few words. I felt nervous for her and wondered how she would talk on issues of archaeology and culture – the topic at hand. However, her confidence stood her in good stead and she did an admirable job.

At the age of nine, Malala participated in a debate. She blew the audience away with her level of confidence and logical train of thought. Even at that age, she had a knack for motivating her peers and opponents. She ultimately won the coveted trophy and medal at that debate competition and this first achievement proved to be the first of many. Now every tomorrow found her further from today.

Soon, she won provincial-level debates and speech competitions. I believe she has inherited oratory and rhetoric skills from her father.

The three years of extremism in Swat Valley were particularly difficult for women and children. They witnessed some of the most brutal and traumatizing acts, and many still struggle with the psychological effects of living through that time.

The world saw children and women here made vulnerable to abuse, exploitation, discrimination and other forms of violence. As a girl and student herself, young but blessed with the power of acute observation, Malala strongly felt the miseries of women around her. She strengthened herself up to speak of these hard times through her pen and thus inspired young children to be brave.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 11th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (4)

  • Pakistani
    Oct 11, 2014 - 4:12PM

    Well done Malala, you are a great Pakistani
    We are proud of you


  • Unknown
    Oct 11, 2014 - 7:25PM

    Malala case is the true example of the phrase that whole world is saying “Sun rises from the west”


  • Naeem Khan
    Oct 11, 2014 - 7:28PM

    Thank you Mr. Fazal Khaliq for such a heart warming memories about Malala. We are so proud of her and she helped us hold our heads high in the world community after so much wrong has been going on in the country. As a Pukhtun living far away from home, it is such a pride for us here and shows to the world that Pukhtuns as whole are progressive people like most of the Pakistanis when given the chance. We as a Pakistanis could compete and excel anywhere and with anyone in the world when we put our minds to it. Thank you Malala and all those who has supported her.


  • Farrukh
    Oct 11, 2014 - 10:02PM

    Pakistani nation should have burst into a thunderous applause for Malala – the youngest Noble Laureate ever. Unfortunately, this has not happened and once again her rise to world fame is being linked to an international conspiracy to belittle Pakistan. One wonders how this is a conspiracy when she is doing exactly what our army is doing through Zarb-Azb and at a much lower cost. A brave girl turned her own mutilation into a cause for her people and yet we try to see ulterior motives in this 17-year old’s efforts to lead the way. Most of all, the war that our army has started fighting today was initiated by her on the day when she was shot by the coward Taliban. Congratulations, Malala, we are with you.


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