Did Malala deserve the Nobel Peace Prize?

Published: November 29, 2014
The writer is a physicist and a cosmologist currently teaching at NUST. He received the Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 2008

The writer is a physicist and a cosmologist currently teaching at NUST. He received the Hilal-e-Imtiaz in 2008

In the issue of The Express Tribune of November 1, there was an article by Razya Siddiqui entitled “Maligning Malala — the sound and the fury”. She said no more than what I had been saying. However, she said it a lot better and, more importantly, she published it. The article shamed me into realising that this is a time to stand up and be counted. If a little girl who desperately wanted education, can stand up for education for girls in a conservative society, how can an educated old man stay silent — especially when the said man is an educator who fervently believes in the equality of men and women in intellectual activities? Let me add my two pennies’ worth.

It is an honour for Pakistan that a teenage Pakistani girl has been given this most prestigious award. Why wouldn’t Pakistanis be delighted with this honour? As Siddiqui pointed out, people ask what she has actually done to achieve this recognition. Everyone has a favourite candidate who, it is claimed, deserved this award more than Malala. I, myself, had thought that Abdul Sattar Edhi might have deserved it more. However, I realised that Edhi’s work, however selfless, useful and significant for Pakistan, does not merit international recognition. What impact has it had outside Pakistan? Malala, on the other hand, has had an immediate and dramatic impact the world over.

Apart from denigrating her contribution, there is active opposition to Malala. That partly speaks of sympathy with those who shot her. Those are, in any case, enemies of the state and there is little point in giving arguments in response to those who speak with bullets. Of greater concern are the apologists, who argue that she has spoken against Pakistan. Of course, a girl who was shot in the head and miraculously survived may be forgiven for being bitter at the lack of support provided by the state when she really needed it. However, I feel she has not spoken against Pakistan. She has criticised those of us who condone militants who try to stop education for girls and blow up their schools. She should criticise them! I should condemn them. You should condemn them. We, as a society, should condemn them. Injustice has to be opposed at all costs. The child, Malala, put her life on the line. Can we, adults, do less?

People criticise her for not living in and working for Pakistan. Given that her life is in danger here and the state is not ready to provide adequate protection, she could be forgiven for that. It is, perhaps, relevant to draw a parallel here between our two Nobel laureates. When Abdus Salam was offered a position as professor at Imperial College, his father wanted him to stay on in Pakistan and serve here. The vice-chancellor of the Punjab University at the time, Mian Afzal Hussain, called him and said to him, “Your son does not belong to you or to Pakistan, he belongs to the world.” Malala, too, should be viewed as one of those people who now belong to the world, and we can take pride in the fact that she is a daughter of our soil, as we can at the fact that Salam was a son of our soil. Salam criticised society for the type of education it provided to its children. Malala criticises society for allowing male injustice against females. Salam was a member of an oppressed minority that has repeatedly faced threats. Malala is a member of an oppressed majority that repeatedly faces threats of life, safety, liberty and the right to education — on account of their sex! Salam did more for us while sitting abroad than he could have done sitting in Pakistan. I hope that Malala, too, will prove more useful abroad than she could have been here.

It is time to stand up and be counted. I stand up for Malala and the women and girls of Pakistan. I stand up for Salam and the minorities in Pakistan. I stand up for the right of all children to education. I stand up for the right of all Pakistanis to practise their religious beliefs. Join hands with me and stand up — it is time.

Published in The Express Tribune, November 29th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • Shahid
    Nov 29, 2014 - 1:48AM

    Edhi deserves the Nobel prize for the years of work he has done. Malala is supported by the liberals in Pakistan for their secular plan. Some day may be after 2 or 3 decades the real story of Malala will be revealed may be another Snowden by that time may appear.


  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Nov 29, 2014 - 2:49AM

    Mala deserved Noble Peace Prize and she got it. We are extremely happy and hope she lives a long meaningful life and never undermines sanctity of this prestigious prize. However, more important question is who deserves next years Noble Peace Prize. In my opinion our Polio Vaccination Teams deserve more than anyone in the world. They are the bravest men and women who are doing a thankless job in harshest environment where our security forces, government, political leaders, Mullahs and above all stupid parents are unable to protect them. No group of people has served a nation more than these helpless people.


  • Kolsat
    Nov 29, 2014 - 2:51AM

    The author is to be congratulated for his forthright views. I am saddened by silence echoing here.


  • AK
    Nov 29, 2014 - 3:43AM

    Can I sit down. My legs. Are aching after all the standing that I have been doing.


  • MA
    Nov 29, 2014 - 5:07AM

    The haters will hate and burn in the fire of their hatred. Malala will win and so will Pakistan.


  • Riya
    Nov 29, 2014 - 9:14AM

    People like you hold promise and hope for our deeply divided and disturbed societies.


  • numbersnumbers
    Nov 29, 2014 - 10:12AM

    Why do we all have to wait for the “real story” you allude to???
    Why can’t you tell us the real story now that you claim to know???


  • vinsin
    Nov 29, 2014 - 12:01PM

    Is Malala a spy? What is the real story, please provide the link or write up with facts? Who are Pakistani liberals and what is secular plan? What liberals and secularism has to do with Malala? Noble prize is given by noble prize committee, are you member of it? Why do you think Edhi deserves noble prize? How many people got support from his work and what is the global impact of his work?


  • M. Ahmed
    Nov 29, 2014 - 12:04PM

    Yes you are right, we should stand up for the cause of Salam & Malala to educate the uneducated world.


  • Parvez
    Nov 29, 2014 - 1:35PM

    Have always supported Malala…..and glad to see that you do too.


  • Khan Gul
    Nov 29, 2014 - 3:22PM

    @Shahid: Just how on earth can you know the “real story” if it is to be revealed in 2034 or 2044 by another snowden?


  • Parvez
    Nov 29, 2014 - 4:41PM

    @Shahid: sir, do you know the meaning of secular…….Kindly look it up in a good dictionary and don’t believe what others tell you.


  • fair
    Nov 29, 2014 - 5:07PM

    peoples opposing the award are also Pakistani,they are also citizen of Pakistani, they carry freedom of expression, should not be criticized especially by peoples claimed to have liberals and acknowledging the success,but who don’t acknowledge it is their will don’t enforce like talibanization to be acknowledged in any case,,,,,,,


  • harkol
    Nov 30, 2014 - 7:50AM

    It is ridiculous that people question Malala’s nobel peace prize.

    Nobel peace prize criteria is clear. Per Alfred Nobel’s will – It is to be given to an individual/entity which did the best work to create international unity/brotherhood or promoted disarmament.

    If Malala’s efforts didn’t create an international unity/fraternity/brotherhood by way of forging a consensus about the need for women’s rights, I don’t know what else did in the past few years! Similarly Satyarthi’s work transcended borders and created awareness of children’s right to education and labor. Nobel did well to recognize this.

    Nobel isn’t given for getting shot in the head. It isn’t given for bravery. It isn’t given to individuals who have done most charity.

    It is all about – IMPACT of one’s work on creating better international fraternity (consensus).


  • Milind
    Nov 30, 2014 - 9:39AM

    Now this is a real writeup… No ifs and buts…. No prevaricating…. Clear & concise stand on supposedly ‘controversial issue’…

    Thanks for this great article.


  • Kamran
    Dec 1, 2014 - 12:30AM

    To all who oppose Malala how many more bullets do you suggest she should have received to get noble prize.Her noble peace prize stands for her bravery against the biggest tyrans of the time who most of Malalas opponents fear and cant raise their voice.


  • Vikram
    Dec 1, 2014 - 1:24AM

    Malala should be thankful to Taliban for the Nobel prize. If there were no Taliban she will be study in Pakistan and enjoying Islamic way of life. Half of prize money should go to ISI for creating Taliban.


  • sajal tariq
    Dec 30, 2014 - 4:53PM

    Malala does not deserve nobel peace prize.She has done nothing worthy of the prize except for making speeches and statements.in the recent nobel peace prize,it seems that this prize is awarded to someone because of what they represent and symbolize rather than for their actual work done for peace or achievements.if obama has recieved nobel prize then i have no reason to say why malala is awarded nobel peace prize.in every news story i have seen that malala gets top billing while Satyarthi always gets subheadline sometimes not even getting a picture.Yet his organization has helped,saved hundreds of children and educated them.this is the work worthy of the prize on the other hand malala has done nothing except for making speeches and completing books.the standard of nobel prize is not really appropriate for a girl like her.


  • Mansoor Ahmed Zafar
    Jan 29, 2015 - 3:03PM

    I she did not deserve it. EDHI sb and many more among us deserve more than mala whom struggle their whole life for the good of the humanity. and now she had it. than she should donate this award to APC school survivors.


  • Jan 29, 2015 - 4:56PM

    malala was given the Nobel Peace Prize for speaking against Pakistan, whoever speaks against Pakistan and muslims they get the Nobel Peace Prize, like the black Monkey from USA, Barack Obama got the Nobel Peace Prize for killing muslims in middle east as well as Afghanistan, as far as Abdul Sattar Edhi is Concerned, he was given The Ahmadiyya Muslim Peace Prize for Advancement of Peace, in 2010


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