Dawn News

Malala and Goliath

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For the first time in my life I have started to like Pakistan. I see what I always wanted to see. The image of Malala on every chowk, newspaper, profile picture, status update and TV channel. The prayers of people all across the country have touched me beyond imagination. This is a Pakistan that gives me hope and light at the end of tunnel. Let us celebrate this golden moment in the history of Pakistan that might not last for very long.

Just two weeks before the Taliban attacked her, I heard her speech in a conference in Islamabad. I had a presentation just after her and was jittery as I am not a good public speaker. One sentence struck me when she said, ‘one defiant ‘NO’ can break the silence of fear’.

I didn’t realise then but now I know what she meant. Lets us celebrate one girl’s defiance and the courage to say ‘NO’. One girl’s courageous stand against the mighty Talibans, exposing them, forcing them to explain their act with accordance to Sharia. All religious parties and political parties who are afraid to condemn the Taliban publicly were forced to condemn the Taliban because of a 14-year-old girl. Malala like David defeated the mighty, armed to his teeth Goliath - the general of Philistines.

Illustration by Sabir Nazar

The day Malala was attacked; I was sitting in my car waiting for my wife to finish her shopping. My daughter who is one year older than Malala was sitting in the back and I couldn’t see her face in the somewhat dark parking area. She asked me a question and I felt as if she was on the verge of breaking down into tears. I didn’t dare look at her in back-view mirror. I don’t know why I wanted to avoid her gaze.

Her: It is very difficult to express one self.

Me: No, what is so difficult, what is stopping you.

Her: No I mean, I am talking about Malala.

Me: But she did express herself. Look at the power of her expression. Didn’t it touch you and millions of other all over Pakistan. She wrote a dairy like Anne Frank from Swat.

Her: But they have met the same fate. She died in a concentration camp and she is in a hospital.

Me: What are you trying to say?

Her: Isn’t it better to leave this country where one can’t say what she wants, can’t adopt the profession what she wants?

Illustration by Sabir Nazar

Me: Malala didn’t have a choice to leave the country. Running away from any situation is not an answer.

Her: But she could have left Swat and lived in any other city?

Me: But it was more difficult living in another city. She couldn’t have continued her education if her entire family was displaced.

Her: But why she was the only one who stood for her rights?

Me: Because people living under such conditions become aware more than others living in a secure environment. The brush with reality is the greatest teacher. She realised the importance of education as she was being forced to leave it.

Illustration by Sabir Nazar

Her: I was talking to my friends in school and one girl said that she was not attacked by the Taliban but some tribal people who are against education.

Me: That is not true. We know only one group is responsible for destroying thousands of girls’ schools in Fata and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Besides, the Taliban in Afghanistan stopped girl education in 1995.

Illustration by Sabir Nazar

Her: When I started to tell her about Malala, my friend nudged me under the table to stop the conversation.

Me: Why? What was she afraid of?

Her: She said there is no need to get into debate. They have only known Malala after this incidence. Me: So?

Seema: Can I write about her in my school magazine?

Me (to myself): Is she afraid of writing? (To her): Yes why not, it would give you an opportunity to understand the issue and other students would know the Malala’s role in education.

Her: Our school has started drills for emergency again. I don’t understand the two different sirens, which one is for locking ourselves in the class rooms and which is to gather outside the building.

Me: The first drill is meant to lock yourself in, if terrorists sneak into the school. And the second drill is probably to evacuate the school building in case of a bomb planted inside the building.  There are hoax calls of bombs in the building.

Her: Its very difficult to express one self in this society. I have learned not to surrender and shouldn’t stop to express myself, like I did in school.

Me: Yes, you should.

Her: But why should a girl struggle for education? Why didn’t somebody else speak about education in Swat?

Illustration by Sabir Nazar

Me (to myself): This is the age when 14-year-old girls should be dreaming about clothes, going to picnics and playing with her friends, as she described in her dairy. Why should she struggle for an education which is her right? Wasn’t this the duty of the adults to provide her with education? Have we reached a stage where our little girls, like Rimsha, Malala, have to offer sacrifices to wake us from our slumber?

I remained silent.

The author left architecture for painting but ended up as a cartoonist and now writes Hijjo. He is the jack of all trades.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (40) Closed

Oct 18, 2012 05:12am
Very nice way of expressing yourself. Pakistan need more Malala's to come out of trance
Oct 18, 2012 05:37am
A good article, but a small spelling mistake has ruined it. I understand that Malala kept 'Diary' where one notes down ones thoughts, not 'Dairy' where one keeps ones cows.
Oct 18, 2012 04:44am
Sabir Nazar for Prime Minister !!!!!
Imran A.
Oct 17, 2012 01:46pm
This conversation brought me to tears.
Oct 18, 2012 03:52am
If u really know Islam, then, your ignorant anger against Islam is misplaced........ if its otherwise, pls read Quran for yourself.......
Oct 18, 2012 03:45am
i for one agree wid watever u have said , but , plz stop looking Islam through the mirrir of Talibans and in particular ur Struggle against Christianity........... Read our 1400 yrs old Book urself, Truth SHALL shine upon u....
Oct 17, 2012 12:30pm
Great article. I am from India, and feels good know about such free thinking people as our neighbours.
Oct 18, 2012 06:31am
that kind people are killing our tallent
Romeo g
Oct 18, 2012 06:31am
The problem with your country is the religion. You are a good person. I suggest you convert to some other religion and help save your country
Oct 17, 2012 12:42pm
Hi Sabir, I know little about your homeland exceopt they are good cricketers. I come from Australia. I just read your article. It moved me a lot. I hope your daughter gets the education she hopes for, without the fear that must surely grip the children of the "swat". Good luck Sabir and good luck to Pakistan to emerge free and without fear from these terrible times.
Oct 17, 2012 12:40pm
It never ceases to amaze me how men do acts of great evil and use religion as an excuse. There is no written word that can condone the attempted murder of an an intelligent 14 year old girl. There is no excuse to deny any human being the power of free speech. There is no excuse to deny anyone the right to live lives in which they hurt none, but live on their own terms. There is no excuse to treat one gender as superior over another. There is no excuse to to attack another group or religion simply because they think differently to you. And yet men find paper thin excuses to do all this, in books written by MEN a thousand years dead. I for one am sick of it.
Oct 18, 2012 09:53am
I hope this wonderful gets well soon and travels to India some day. It will be a great privilege to see her and listen to her speech.
Oct 17, 2012 03:39pm
If Malala and like girls become role models instead of Katrina and Karina, then we might hope for a better Pakistan
akhter husain
Oct 18, 2012 07:54am
very true
Oct 18, 2012 04:51pm
Yes! It seems that education is a problem only in SWAT? Every girl of this country is MALALA. But why protocol to the daughter of Yousafzai?? Its all fake! These are dual standards.
Oct 18, 2012 01:10pm
I second that Mr. Shankar
Salma Ahmad
Oct 18, 2012 04:56pm
I am sure all Pakistanis condemn the attack on Malala and salute her bravery and are praying for her. But my heart also cries for the girls who were attacked with Malala and would like to know what happened to them. Is the government paying for their health, recovery? Is somebody praying for them too? Why our media do not even play a single strip about them in the news?
Majaz Amin
Oct 17, 2012 02:31pm
Well said!!!
Ajit kumar
Oct 18, 2012 10:46am
Dear Pakistanis, Take good care of her, nurture her knowledge, nourish her frail body , protect her from all evil, for she sure will make you proud in front of the entire world.
Oct 17, 2012 10:00pm
God bless this child Malala. Leave alone Pakistanis, I am Indian and she makes me proud. What guts! I can envision her growing up into a world class leader.
Oct 17, 2012 09:48pm
A bitter fact you spoke: Have we reached a stage where our little girls, like Rimsha, Malala, have to offer sacrifices to wake us from our slumber?
Oct 17, 2012 09:47pm
correctly pointed out
Oct 17, 2012 08:24pm
You are so right!!! but don't bet on it.
Oct 17, 2012 08:18pm
i was lost mid way through your article - keep it simple and to the point. i really wanted to read, but your and your daughter's excessively long dialogues just lost my interst
Oct 17, 2012 06:56pm
Nasreen Kasuri is the Chairperson of the Beaconhouse School System, which she founded in 1975. The Beaconhouse School System is now the largest school system of its kind in the world, and it recently opened its 125th school. any praise for her?
Oct 17, 2012 06:41pm
Sabir, You stole my line; for the 1st time in 40 years, I have liked Pakistan after seeing the reaction to the Malala incident.
Oct 17, 2012 06:09pm
"Free thinking" a tad late in the day, But,better late than never.
Oct 17, 2012 05:52pm
We in India feel so proud of Malala, a true jewel of our sub-continent, an inspiration to the youth of all nations,, a remarkable youth icon, the voice of the oppressed women of our countries. A veritable Maharani Laxmi Bai, a modern day Joan of Arc. We all wish her speedy recovery and a long life. We need her, we pray for her.
Oct 17, 2012 05:43pm
Problem with pakistan is not that people dont know the difference between good and bad.... they simply dont support good till its almost lost.... same pictures were everywhere for Afia also.. so its nothing new.... the child lived in a horribly dangerous place without any protection... now the pictures can only represent failure of the people who could actually help her in her mission........ rest is all show business...
Oct 17, 2012 05:38pm
Please look through the old editorials and news spin over the past ten years from leaders, professors, thinkers, politicians, cartoonists, writers and so-called journalists. These thinkers have brewed the current state and now they can not escape the brew. It will take fifty years at a minimum to erase those minds that were made over the past two decades. For those men to die, corrupt brains to blow themselves & leave this earth it will take five more decades, unless the manufacturing of those violent and faulty brains stops now. Girls are a gift as opposed to the men who seem to take pleasure in spreading hatred and violence. I feel sorry for your daughter and not so sorry for your 'manly' attitude. That applies to everyone who likes to call themselves a Man in Pakistan. Good Luck.
Asad Raza
Oct 18, 2012 06:47pm
wonderful article!
Oct 18, 2012 09:48am
The message is more important than the grammar and spelling, don't you think? Not everybody can write queen's English but fewer can even think clearly!
Oct 17, 2012 03:48pm
Very touching lines, Sabir.!
Oct 17, 2012 04:40pm
i think the trigger point finally arrived, people finally dared to talk against the Taliban.This is what was missing all along. Mainstream doing it, is amazing. Education is the most important for a country to develop.Hopefully Pakistan will have its own PIT (Pakistan Institute of technology, similar to IIT), PIM (like IIM) and so on...I could see bright and prosperous Pakistan in 10 years from now.
Oct 17, 2012 04:15pm
it feels pathetic sabir, young children who are actually are to be in dreams and expectations, generally ask for abba aap kya larahe ho kind of stuff are given this treatment, i am touched by your conversation, god help us
Oct 18, 2012 11:17am
plz make the pictures bigger of click-able
Oct 18, 2012 08:57am
Please write shorter article which the people can have time to read.
Oct 17, 2012 12:18pm
Mr. Sabir, Education is a very dangerous epidemic, we are trying very hard to eradicate every mark of education from our society / country we even don't want our boys to get education and you are talking about girls education I think an edict (Fatwa) should also be issued against you if everybody became literate then who will follow our senseless commands. With hate from a totally ignorant Mullah
Oct 18, 2012 10:08am
nice 1 thats it, i m speachless,
G M Patra
Oct 17, 2012 12:36pm
Whole world has rightly shown solidarity with Pakistan on Malala. Wish Pakistan will do the same when Taliban or others in Pakistan or Afganistan HURT and stop girls from going to school. They vandlise schools for the girls. Taliban stopped girl's education in Afganistan and Pakistan responded by recognizing them. Saudies were the 2nd country to officially recognize Taliban. Pakistan must adhere to humanity 1st not Islam first as it, the religion, is exploited by all power mongers in all religions. There could not be a better example than ISI and Pak Govt. sponsored and/or created Taliban and other mullahs and their groups. One of the best friends of Pakistan now a days does not allow any religion on its soil.