She is just 14 years old, and brave enough to face the bullet. The courageous Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan reminds me of Anne Frank. No, Anne, who was a Jew, was not an activist but her writings were a testimony to the atrocities of the Nazis. Anne’s diary documented her experiences while hiding during the German occupation of the Netherlands in Second World War. The young girl, however, did not pen the incidents to evoke any action against Nazis. But here is Malala, who is audacious enough to write a blog about life under the Pakistan Taliban when they controlled the Swat Valley.
On October 09, Malala suffered a bullet injury when the gutsy Taliban fired at her in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province while she was on her way home from school. Doctors have successfully removed the bullet lodged in the head of the young activist. But the image of Pakistan has been left wounded yet again.
"I was afraid of going to school because the Taliban had issued an edict
banning all girls from attending schools," Malala had written in her diary in 2009. The statement gives a glimpse of fear and terror of Taliban faced by public in the Swat Valley then.
At a time when the South Asian country is reeling under extremism and even the government has failed to take a stern stance against Islamist fundamentalists, here is a girl who dreams of secularism and speaks against the cruelty of the Taliban. She dares to rise against brutality and campaigns for literacy amongst females.
Nominated in 2011 for the International Children`s Peace Prize, Malala has also won the National Peace Prize in Pakistan. Her diary under pseudonym, Gul Makai, was also broadcast on the BBC three years ago.
Malala is an inspiration, a ray of hope for a country like Pakistan, whose Army is either unable to or unwilling to face Taliban. I salute her family, who backed the young girl in her determination to ward off the evil Taliban. “We will focus on our work with more strength…If all of us die fighting, we will still not leave this work,” Malala’s father Ziauddin told a news agency. I wish the Pakistani Army had this zeal.
The incident has drawn the attention of not only the international community, but also thankfully sparked anger amongst the Pakistani public. Rallies have been taken out on the streets in support of the child peace campaigner. But is this enough? Will the Pakistani authorities wake up now?
“No matter where the terrorists may escape, we will bring them to justice,” said Interior Minister Rehman Malik. “We have identified the gang which carried out the attack (on Malala Yousafzai) … and we also know when the terrorists arrived in Swat.” What a great intelligence system Pakistan has? It gets information on all the attacks, but just forgets to thwart them.
Whether it is the Mukhtaran Mai case, innumerable accounts of acid attacks, blasphemy rows, assassinations in the name of religion and castes, Pakistan has always failed to take a step against the guilty. The statement by the authorities promising justice sounds no more than a sham. The Pakistan Taliban are daring enough to reissue the threat and shamelessly announce that Malala deserves to die and that they would target her again if she survives.
The beacon of hope that inspires humanity is fighting for her life and a lot is expected from Pakistan today. While the case has sparked outrage amongst Pakistanis and the international community, it remains to be seen whether the Pakistani establishment will set an example by warding off Taliban and safeguarding thousands of Malalas.
(The views expressed by the author are personal)