I read the ‘Diary of a Pakistani Schoolgirl’ on the BBC Website yesterday. The obvious motive behind that was to know more about Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year old girl who was shot by the Taliban on 9th October 2012. There is a background to this entire incident: the story of Malala and the consequences of the shooting. In January 2009, the Taliban ordered the private schools in the Swat district of the North Western Frontier Province (NWFP) of Pakistan to put a ban on the girls’ education. The Taliban introduced this ban as a result of their stringent interpretation of the Sharia Law (Islamic law) and the militants destroyed more than 150 schools to make their ban more effective and to terrorize the people of the district. Girls were forced to wear burqas and were not permitted to go to the market. Many people were slaughtered and killed on the streets. Malala championed the cause of female education by writing a diary for the BBC Online (Urdu) under a pseudo name of Gul Makai. She highlighted how the prohibition had affected her and her classmates.
Malala was recognized as a child activist who was pro-west and had the nerve to speak against the Taliban and their imprudent laws against the women of her region. She was awarded the first National Peace Award by the Pakistani Government in Dec, 2011 for her courageous and exceptional services for the promotion of peace even in the most intimidating conditions. In addition, she became the first Pakistani girl to be nominated for the International Children’s peace prize by the KidsRight Foundation. She wanted to form her own political party wherein the members would work for the cause of education. Her ideal leader is the American President, Barrack Obama as reported in the Reuters. The Sindh Education Department (Pakistan) renamed a school after Malala. In August 2011, she again told the BBC how life had changed in Swat after years of Taliban militant rule. A documentary film called – ‘A Schoolgirl’s Odyssey’ by Adam B. Ellick follows Malala and depicts her story during the six terrifying months as she lost her education at the hands of the Taliban.
The Taliban loathed her because she had the guts to challenge their rules and was promoting western culture in their areas. Certain reports state that she was on the hit-list of Taliban since some time. This led to the incident that took place two days back jolting the nation. On Tuesday, 9th October, Malala sat in her school bus after the morning classes to be driven back to her home. A bearded man approached the bus and asked one of the girls to identify Malala. When she did so, the man shot both Malala and the girl who spotted her before running off from the scene. She had to undergo a complicated surgery to have the bullet removed from her head. Fortunately, she survived the deadly attack and is said to be in a stable condition now. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility for the attack on behalf of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). Leaders of all the parties have condemned the attack and several Pakistanis have been carrying out anti-Taliban protests to express their indignation. In an alarming proclamation that Ehsanullah Ehsan (Taliban spokesman) gave to the BBC (Urdu), the Taliban conceitedly asserts that Malala is a symbol of obscenity and her life would not be spared even if she endured the recent attack.
People all around the world have been taken aback by the shooting of a little girl who did not care for her life to provide others with a desired and free existence in a society governed by the disgust for women. Pakistani officials have offered a reward to anyone who finds out the gunmen involved in the shooting. US President Obama and the United Nations Chief Ban-Ki-Moon expressed revulsion at the attack and called it a barbaric and spineless act directing violence at children. The prevalent realization that nudges me in such incidents is the way someone’s daring is attacked with cowardice, bravery is subdued with weakness. However, it teaches us several lessons for life; people like Malala show us how it is imperative to stand up against injustice and fight for our right to life and the entitlement to a liberated and absolute existence. Do not let brutality suppress your spirit, in fact let it make you stronger and more dedicated towards the obligation to serve humanity, to do every plausible thing to bring about a transformation. Yes, we are in this struggle together; the fight against bloodshed; the fight against discrimination; the fight against oppression. This is our world and we ought to make it a better place to live in, for ourselves and for everyone else who deserves to breathe freely.
I pray for Malala and wish for her well-being. Let’s salute her efforts for doing what most of us could not dare to.
References: The Guardian, BBC, Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal, TrustInEducation, Pakeezahs, Hindustan Times, Wikipedia, The Dawn, New York Times etc