More often than not, a heroic struggle has tragedy as its epicentre. Faced with these challenges, it is difficult to emerge from a quagmire without being forced to play the victim. However, Malala Yousafzai has steered clear from this stereotypical mould.
Be it a militant assault or trenchant criticism triggered from being in the global spotlight, the 17-year-old education rights activist has remained true to her cause without exaggerating her plight. It is only befitting that the Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize 2014 to Malala.
After a long time, Pakistan has been lauded for its positive contribution to the global community. Malala’s achievement depicts a proud moment for the country. She is the first Pakistani woman to receive the accolade and the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately, the spirit of celebration has been carelessly distorted by a wave of cynicism and doubt.
Sceptics have argued that Malala’s should not have received the award. Furthermore, the issue has been dressed up under the guise of a western agenda to thwart Pakistan. Her detractors have already billed her as a foreign agent who is being manipulated by the West to serve its own narrow interests. The award has been viewed as welcome proof that Malala is being exploiting for political motives.
It is difficult to accept these conspiracy theories as they create a false narrative of victimhood. Moreover, we stand the risk of relegating the importance of the prize and forgetting its symbolic value.
Malala’s Nobel win needs to be understood in the right context so as to prevent it from being blown out of proportion. The Nobel Peace Prize has been granted to Malala for her commitment to educate the girl-child. Since Malala has been previously nominated for the award, the decision is neither arbitrary nor unfair. On the contrary, it reflects the willingness to reward a noble deed.
A mixed response has been shown to her achievements. What is more, some people have undermined her contribution because she shares the prize with Kailash Satyarthi, a children’s rights activist in India. At this critical juncture, the nation should come together and thank Malala Yousafzai for her unflagging commitment to an important cause.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2014.