Malala Yousafzai – photo by writer

“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.

Nukhbat Malik is an Islamabad based journalist/documentary filmmaker/social media campaigner. She can be reached on twitter @nukemalik and

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Comments (86)

July 11, 2012 1:43 pm
Jinnah’s Pakistan coming back to life.
July 11, 2012 3:12 pm
I agree, despite all the thumbs-down.
July 11, 2012 1:47 pm
MashaAllah! Keep it up and all the best in ur future endeavours, aMEEN!
July 12, 2012 1:28 am
Well spoken. Rise, human freedom, rise. Please, sooner rather than later. Taliban don't understand the basic message: True devotion to one's religion comes when it can be learned within personal freedom and inspiration, in growing care and love -- not from being beaten.
July 11, 2012 12:45 pm
"the only way to politics is education" ...yeah right...
July 11, 2012 1:01 pm
Lass not the less Malala Yousafzai is an excellent example to the entire world that the Pakistan believe in independence of the women, and it is also an example particularly the enemy of our motherland that they will not be allowed to ruin real talent of the country. God Bless Pakistan.
July 11, 2012 11:39 pm
You guy don't believe in women stepping forward and forging their own destiny.......pity!!
Tariq K Sami
July 15, 2012 6:00 pm
If it were not for El Cid Paris would be like Jeddah today. Can one person change the course of human history? It is possible. Go on Gulmaki.Best of Luck.
Faisal Taquie
July 11, 2012 10:52 pm
Good point, it is a cultural issue. The wife of the prophet (PBUH), Ayehsa (May Allah be pleased with her) is among the most narrated and notable scholars of Islam.
Amar Khan
July 11, 2012 10:42 pm
Dear Malalai I wish you all the best because on a human level, girls like you are the hope of girls in Pakistan and especially Pathan girls. I am not sure you can fit in, in the type of politics, the current politicians are involved in it, be the PPP, PML N, Q, MQM, ANP, JUI F or even Imran's party and the politicians like Mehmood Qureshi in it but if politics is your choice of helping others, May Allah swt help you be successful in it. Please concentrate on your education first because it will be your higher education and your modesty as a Pathan girl which will make you help those who need your help (all poor and uneducated girls in Pakistan). Amar Khan, President - ISI Inc. and Member - Board of Directors ICB, Brisbane Australia.
July 11, 2012 9:18 pm
All the best to Malala. In Pakistan if you are a wadera it is easy to get into politics rather then education.The politicians are not taking interest in Swat nor are they taking interest in any other area as they are busy making money and trying to enter into alliances with other parties so they can come back and rule the country again after the next elections.
July 11, 2012 9:37 pm
Yes! you are indeed right when you say that boys will benefit who will have mothers like Gulmakai. May we be blessed with many more Gulmakais
July 11, 2012 9:34 pm
"GULMAKAI" I stand in salute to you and first of all to the courageous, enlightened and fearless parents you have, if all parents were the like of yours, today Pakistan would be free of the third grade politicians who only serve the people to LOOT them. God bless you,your parents and proud to be a Pakistani
R. Varghese
July 11, 2012 8:58 pm
We need more girls to follow your footstep. I am hoping and praying that very soon Pakistan would be a peaceful and vibrant country. It is only education that will bring Pakistan out of the current mess it is in.
r.k.bhama, M.D.
July 12, 2012 10:45 am
This girl deserves the appreciation and of the world and Pakistan at large and her community in particular. She correctly fears rape and/or/both acid mutilation.World need to protect her. Do you agree?
July 15, 2012 10:51 am
i agree your views and thoughts....and i wish you best of luck....!
ravi datt sharma
July 11, 2012 12:40 pm
My dear Gulmakai, God Bless you and your parents, May the almighty bless you all (long and healthy life) which you need to lead the humanity. I wish you send me your date of birth so that we can send you the birthday message. I am a retired scientist living in Brazil. Best of luck, Ravi Datt Sharma
July 12, 2012 9:05 am
Pakistan should learn lesson from this girl's courage & unite aginst Taliban otherwise the whole nation may suffer from the same oppression if Taliban takesover Pakistan .
Dr. Imran Wazir
July 11, 2012 1:43 pm
I wish that all parents becomes like Mlalai parents ... It is very difficult for a father to ask for such a difficult task from his daughter. It's all depends upon upbringing the child. Shabash to the whole family ... you deserve many such awards.
July 12, 2012 3:01 am
GULMAKAI you have full support.
July 12, 2012 4:18 am
Really you are our future. My sincere wishes are with you. God Bless You Beta
Muzaffar Qureshi
July 11, 2012 3:32 pm
Against many words of despair there is always a single word of hope and encouragement which brightens your life and that of your country; indeed that of many people around the world. Don't despair. Sure, there will be stumbling blocks but success belongs to those who overcome these hurdles in life with conviction a nd determination. It is not only the girls who will benefit from your example but also the boys who will have mothers like you. My sincerest good wishes for you "GULMAKAI". May your dreams come true. Muzaffar Qureshi - an 81 year old well-wisher.
July 12, 2012 4:22 am
God bless her.Gud luck
Muzaffar Qureshi
July 11, 2012 3:30 pm
Against many words of despair there is always a single word of hope which encourages you and brightens your life; indeed that of people around the world. Don't despair. Sure, there will be stumbling blocks but success belongs to those who overcome the hurdles in life with conviction and determination. It is not only the girls who will benefit from you example but also the boys who will have mothers like you. My sincerest good wishes for you "GULMAKAI".
July 11, 2012 10:07 am
good luck Gulmukai for your future aims. God bless you.
July 12, 2012 5:17 am
she is beacon of light for Pakistani women
ainuddin khilji
July 12, 2012 5:13 am
She is a role model for girls of this era.
July 12, 2012 3:49 am
which girl's right? the right of a nine year old girl to marry a man? is that a right?
July 12, 2012 3:42 am
Good Luck! u are really an icon and beacon in the darkness. Keep it up Gulmakai!
July 14, 2012 10:33 am
Baby girls are not aborted or killed in India. Its a wrong information.
July 15, 2012 1:38 pm
Why should we question what is told us. That would require critical thinking.
July 11, 2012 1:11 pm
July 11, 2012 2:07 pm
You are right, it is not in the religion but gender inequality. A fear instilled in men of the region that women will do better than men and their power over them will be taken away. Gender inequality exists everywhere since the stone age. IN western countries it is now reversed while in China and Vietnam women are not given share form their parents properties. Also baby girls being aborted or killed in India and China at a higher rate and some maybe in other countries. One thing for sure that the girls rights were first described in Islam.
July 11, 2012 12:58 pm
In pakistan politics and education are two different things,you can see uneducated politicians on the most high post and many have been relieve by the SC.In pakistan to get some post you have to get the sympathy of the US project from where you are talking.
Rana Khan
July 11, 2012 7:57 pm
July 11, 2012 7:49 pm
your face is sarcastic..
July 11, 2012 7:34 pm
You are great Gulmakai. And your pseudonym is beautiful. I wish you success in achieving the goal you have set yourself. Farman. I am 86. I wish you to live at least a hundred and fufty years.
July 11, 2012 7:06 pm
A heart rendering story of determination to succeed. Persistence and hard work, Allah does Inshallah reward!
July 11, 2012 6:49 pm
Pakistanis are living in the stone ages still depending on emotions only which is evident from everything they have or do. emotions are no more weapon or means of success in any field of life. The word emotion itself has become meaningless. It's knowledge, wisdom and honesty that has taken over everything long before but the sleeping dogs in Pakistan are only there to rely on the meaningless emotions only.
Nader Martens
July 11, 2012 6:25 pm
I believe in Pakistan and its extremely talented people. She is destined to rise and be a beacon of light for muslims all over the world.
July 11, 2012 5:56 pm
Love it. Keep it up.
July 11, 2012 12:08 pm
God bless you and may your dreams come true
July 11, 2012 11:29 am
Education and tolerance are must. I have question for those against Education for girls, How can they even think that education for girls are against Islam? Our religion clearly encourage education without gender discrimination. Bravo to this young girl for taking a stand. Young people like you makes me believe on Pakistan again.
July 11, 2012 11:23 am
God is with you-Gulmakai-keep it up, success is waiting for you.
July 12, 2012 8:57 am
you proved that fear is nothing but only in ur thoughts.
July 11, 2012 11:21 am
July 11, 2012 11:18 am
Wish you best of luck. Keep it up.
Azhar Hussain
July 11, 2012 11:15 am
I pray and wish the whole nation will learn a leson from this young lady and start standing up to these corrupt leaders. Rise Punjab against these feudal mindset; rise Sindh against these wedera system; rise BAlouchistan and KP against the tribal system and above all rise Karachi against the so called bhatta chore intellectual party.
July 11, 2012 11:06 am
I salute you, "Gulmakai". I wish Pakistan had more of you....!!
Dr.Farooq Ahmad
July 11, 2012 11:04 am
Good luck......
Zahida R. Jatt
July 11, 2012 11:02 am
The audacity of this girl inspite of the atrocities of Taliban is amazing . I wish that , evey daughter of nation should be so courageous to stand firmly against oppression and exploitation .
July 11, 2012 10:50 am
We pray for you Gulmaki, Good luck and keep up good work.
July 11, 2012 10:48 am
What a fantastic and remarkable story.....We are proud of this young lady.
Umesh Bhagwat
July 11, 2012 10:43 am
It is girls like Gulmukai who will build a modern Pakistan!
July 11, 2012 10:42 am
July 11, 2012 10:03 am
malala is simply great ! may god give her the strength and protection. she is the hope that pakistan should encourage
Arshad Patel,Ohio US
July 13, 2012 5:40 pm
Very True. Talibans and other terrorists in KP, but what about other provinces ? Are all the other three are safe places to live ? Karachi is worst than the most trouble areas in the whole country. Who is Safe ? God Bless Pakistan.
July 12, 2012 11:00 am
She( all sensible people are) is worried about PAKISTANI TALIBAN , not drone.!!!
July 14, 2012 1:31 pm
Gulmakai , Many congratulations. keep on reading tab out the brave and strong women in history and you will be one of the successful leader . Do not underestimate yourself, keep high ambitions and we will pray for you. may Allah help you in achieving the dreams of irradiating illiteracy from our nation and specially from our women folks. They are the mother of our future generation and we must make them empower.
July 11, 2012 4:50 pm
What an inspiration! Long live
July 12, 2012 8:33 am
So a Drone missed...
Riaz Murtaza
July 11, 2012 12:01 pm
I want to see each and every girl in Pakistan like Gulmakai ! God bless you and Pakistan.
grace gracia
July 11, 2012 2:31 pm
Young generations are the future of a one's country...keep up the good work..may GOD ALMIGHTY bless you and keep you safe and your family as well...all the best!!!
Muhammad Uzair
July 11, 2012 12:04 pm
Should be a lesson for the educated women of KPK and more for the men of pushton tribes, who thinks standing against odds in our culture is impossible. Stand against it with mere a word for all the injustice that our culture or the "respected" elders of the tribes demands.
July 11, 2012 2:24 pm
Great story about a courageous girl and her family. Wish you the best in your future plans.
noveen rehman
July 11, 2012 12:04 pm
way to go girl. i felt really happyfor your courage ,passion and ambition ,never underestimate your abilities , bright future is ahead your way .dignity ,hardwork and patience can help you move forword . keep it up ,i wish you best of luck.inshallah.
Lax Sawkar
July 11, 2012 12:05 pm
Pakistan desperately needs people like Gulmakai, Best of luck.
July 11, 2012 11:36 am
This sounds very sarcastic the way you said it.
July 11, 2012 1:17 pm
Courageous girl ,excellent spirit ,keep it up.
July 11, 2012 11:39 am
Need to know as we are opposing Taliban regime strongly ; did anybody had ever seeen t atrocities of Talibaan with naked eyes
Xami Khan
July 12, 2012 5:28 am
Good Mothers are the sign for a Good Nation :)
El Cid
July 12, 2012 8:31 am
About as sexist as you can get. And that too from a woman...unless you are being 'tongue in cheek' sarcastic. [PS: They are all Gulmakais and Gulparee 'Ankahi' Afghanis at that age, if you but knew].
July 12, 2012 5:58 am
I beg the media, not to publicise this young girl. No wonder (God forbid), pretty soon she will be shot dead somewhere in her home town for talking about education for women (According to the ISLAM there). Please be careful.
Nuke Malik
July 12, 2012 6:03 am
Thank you everyone for showing such support and encouragement and appreciating the positive side of Pakistan. I believe that we all belong to the tribe who recognizes, owns and honors its heroes regardless of religion, ethnicity, socio-political culture and economic factors. I believe in truth n so do you all n so does gulmakai n several other heroes of this country Pakistan, which stays in the news for all the bad reasons!
July 12, 2012 6:32 am
May Allah bless you Gulmakai and your parents. Never give up in your life.
El Cid
July 12, 2012 7:07 am
Who speaks for those innocent voices murdered by Pakistani Mercenary Soldiers and their Over Lords of US-NATO. Thousands of little children , little girls, babies torn to shreds in their mother's arms by Pakistani Jets and US Drones—slaughtered in their home. Who speaks for them.
July 12, 2012 7:21 am
Yeh. Don't you see all those high flauting PhD's in the government and political parties.
El Cid
July 12, 2012 7:46 am
Pakistan produces great talent—in quality and quantity--but the system punishes it, expels it, suffocates or kills it.
July 13, 2012 2:15 am
Gulmakai, meri jaanib se aur aap ki jaanib se, ''Gul zameen, aey Gul zameen, aey Gul zameen... Teri azmat ko sada jhukti rahe meri jabeen, aey Gul zameen... Long live Pakistan!"
July 13, 2012 2:24 am
...then they should. And try and distinguish between cause and effect.
July 13, 2012 3:22 am
And encouraged to stay there.
July 15, 2012 1:53 pm
Good observation. The objective is to define those who defend their homes against foreign invasion as terrorists, as conveniently defined and so designated by the invaders themselves. Karachi burns, the rest of the country dies, being killed by its own non-terrorists.
Pure Heart
July 15, 2012 11:32 am
Just take a simple statistics. The favourable outcome and those Pakistanis who support Gulmakai's ability to stand for truth and education for all is more than 80%. Conclude another 20% are still can be a threat to her initiatives. This trend could be slowly changed as Gulmakai is standing on the side of hard Truth. Good Luck Gulmakai Cheers! Peace Lover, Singapore.
July 14, 2012 8:46 am
i have gone through some of above comments but wondering why indian are more interested in Pakistan while, when you meet with any indian, most of them do not like Pakistani people i don't understand why is it so. I feel so frustrated when I come across these kind of news, could someone kindly ( especially from indian side) give me a reason why this discrimination. I experienced quite often this situation as I am living in UAE where I find so many indian.
Sajjad Khan-Sherwani
July 15, 2012 6:42 am
A beggar country like Pakistan which does not the capability and will to generate own resources for existence has to do what a donor tells it to do, Have you ever seen a proud beggar ? This country will have to do what America tells it to do so long they go on begging tours and not changing the fundamental policies of this country with a govt in power worth its name and with competent technocrats and politicians in charge. Do you think America gave the jets to attack its own friends? The Taliban have become a menace to the very same country which nurtured them. Though they do have a somewhat valid case against this country i.e. too much money on defence and too little on education, social programmes etc. leading to widespread poverty, which has lead to many joining them either voluntarily or have been forced to do so. So they have found their tranquility in religion in my view and this is the gordic knot which has to be cut. . This could be achieved by getting rid of both Zaradari cum Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif "elite".
July 15, 2012 8:37 am
Education does not mean Master or PhD degrees, it is awareness of one's rights and responsibilities. You may find a few dumb headed people with Masters and PhDs. Sure burdening a donkey with books does not make scholar out of him.
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