“The only way to power is politics, and the only way to politics is education,” repeated the girl from Mingora, Swat who was among thousands of others whose lives were threatened by the Taliban in 2009, merely for seeking education.
Today, Malala Yousafzai is a beacon of hope for thousands of other girls who dare to dream of education and ambition. At the 8th International Conference on Women Leadership held in Islamabad last week, Yousafzai was given the excellence award in the category of “The Future of Pakistan”.
“I could not believe when I heard them calling me the future of Pakistan. I am highly encouraged by this award. I need appreciation and encouragement to complete a long and tough journey that is ahead,” she said upon receiving the award.
The world looked at the miseries of Swat through this beautiful pair of eyes, and realised the pain through the words that came out of her which she penned under the name of ‘Gulmakai’. The innocence in her writing represented those bereavements which many adults were unable to describe. Gulmakai’s diary was first published on BBC Urdu’s website in 2009. Aged 15, Malala is now studying in the 9th grade.
“Swat is peaceful now. But I don’t understand the fact that why the government is not showing any interest in rehabilitating the people who suffered the displacement. They are not even building the schools for us. It’s just the Pakistan Army with the cooperation of UAE government, which is helping recover Swat from the horrific aftermath of Talibanisation,” she exclaims with a mix of sorrow and anger.
Accompanying Yousafzai at the conference, her parents believe that their daughter has a long way to go.
“Death is inevitable. Every person has to die at some point, whether there is terrorism or not. This does not mean that we should stop walking on the path of truth. My husband and my daughter both have proven that no terror can hinder the way of truth. She is making us proud since the day she was born,” her mother states.
Forty-three year old Ziauddin is the proud father of Yousafzai, who heads the Khushal Khan School and College in Swat (for boys and girls). He was the spokesman of the National Jirga in Swat at the time of Talibanisation when Abdul Hai Kakar, then a correspondent of BBC, reached out to him and asked him to find a female teacher in Swat who could write about the cruelties of Taliban. To his disappointment no one agreed to do so.
“My only daughter, Malala was just 11 years of age when I first asked her to write about Swat and the Talibanisation in 2008. She did it. Not for the sake of her father’s wish, but for the sake of the safety and peace of her land. No one was willing to write the inside stories, the cruelty, the terror and the sufferings of the people of Swat because of the life threats by Taliban. She used the pseudonym, and I remember the first time I saw someone print the diary, I could not tell them that it’s my daughter who has written this. Today, I am happy that the world knows who Gulmakai is!”
Yousafzai’s ambition doesn’t end with obtaining education. She wants to be a politician when she grows up.
“Democracy is the best rule. This country needs new leaders. I want to study the law and I dream of a country in which education prevails and no one sleeps hungry. That would be my kind of country.”
The conviction in her voice, truly matches the title awarded to her. One can see her sparkling eyes witnessing the bright future of Pakistan.