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Malala Yousufzai.—Photo by AFP
Malala Yousufzai.—Photo by AFP

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan teenager Malala Yousafzai said Saturday that she does not want to be known as the girl the Taliban tried to kill but as “the girl who struggled for her rights.”

A day after making a widely hailed speech at the United Nations, the 16-year-old said she would devote her life for the education of girls.

The UN appearance was Malala's first public speaking engagement since a Taliban gunman shot her in the head last October in a bid to end her campaign to get girls into schools.

“The attack on October 9, 2012 was just a part of my life,” Malala said at a reception at the Pakistani UN mission in New York.

“I want to work hard, I want to sacrifice my whole life for the education of girls.

“And to be true, I want to say that I don't want to be the girl who was shot by the Taliban, I want to be the girl who struggled for her rights.”

The teenager, considered a strong candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize, said she was determined to keep her her struggle “for a right to live in peace, for a right to go to school.” But she reaffirmed her message that the Taliban and other extremists “do not understand the importance of education.”

The Taliban were among “people who think that when a woman goes to school she will be empowered, and they are afraid of it,” she emphasized.

“They are still targeting schools, they are still killing innocent children,” she said, referring to recent attacks both in her native Pakistan and Nigeria.

“If we work together, we will soon see that there will be many schools created in Pakistan and Afghanistan and poor countries. And we will see that every woman and every girl will have the same rights as men have,” she said.

“We do want equality, we are not like men,” she joked.

Malala is expected to return to New York for a summit on education on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly of world leaders in late September.

“Malala's speech was just the start of a momentous push for change in the run up to 2015, to deal with the education emergency,” said Gordon Brown, the former British prime minister and now UN special envoy on global education.

Getting all children into primary school by 2015 was one of the Millennium Development Goals agreed at a world summit in 2000.

Malala was given several standing ovations for her speech Friday when she said she would not be silenced by the Taliban.

She declared: “Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.”

Comments (35) Closed

Yawar Jul 14, 2013 10:41am

Words of wisdom for a teenage girl. That is something the Taliban cannot understand.

Shiraz Jul 14, 2013 11:08am

Pathetic, how US is supporting this one girl!

gangadin Jul 14, 2013 01:04pm

What does she want to be remembered as? Creator of heavens? Get this ugly face of the media and move on. She should be thankful to be alive. Nothing is going to change because she got a bullet in her head or Gordon Brown wants to exploit something.

Imran Jul 14, 2013 03:00pm

She should make few confusions clear, that on who's agenda she is working. if she is really not an agent, i think she should return to Pakistan and face real problems here which masses are doing rather than sitting in UN Assembly and making speeches which doesnt even matter

MBA Jul 14, 2013 03:41pm

Do we listen to our own people? A sixteen year old Pakistani girl is making history and very few Pakistanis seem to take any interest! I hope that the courage shown by her (and many other girls like her) would propogate the cause of education in our country. SHAME on you Taliban!

Kamath Jul 14, 2013 04:13pm

@Imran: Instead of criticising her, it might be more useful to reflect on the circumstances and attitudes that actually led her to reach UN. Regards

Syed Husain Jul 14, 2013 04:17pm

It is absolutely essential for both father and mother be educated for their children's future. That is good for the nation as a whole. We need to pay attention to what this teenager is saying.

Rashid Jul 14, 2013 04:38pm

@Imran: And who would be responsible for her safety, you Einstein?

Ahmed Jul 14, 2013 05:15pm

@Imran: It is this idle talk of "foreign agendas" that is responsible for sapping the will of the nation to crush the taliban terrorism.

A shah Jul 14, 2013 05:39pm

She is right! The world must join forces and crush the evils of this type of islam.

AJ Jul 14, 2013 07:28pm

Best speech I have ever heard from anyone at the U.N, including any or all 'selected' representatives of Pakistan. Very moving, courageous, substantive and unapologetic of one's roots. Hopefully there is something to 'learn' for our elder statesman from the honest and earnest voice of this child.

Salim Akbani Jul 14, 2013 08:10pm

@Imran: This child had no agenda until your Taliban brothers in their moment of bravery shot her in the head. Pakistan and Muslims have once again failed their own children. Ignorance is the link between violence and ideologues.

Qaiser Bakhtiari Jul 14, 2013 09:56pm

@Imran: It takes a special kind of fool like you to shed the light on the real problem of our country. Which is ignorance coupled with just pure malice towards anyone who does something.

What have YOU done so far to make this country a better place other than making ignorant comments. She represents that spirit of Pakistan that is trying to stand up to these Terrorists. And yes she did stand up to them for which she got shot in the head.

As for you 'Men' and your type I am sorry to say a 16 years old girl is doing a better job in speaking for innocent children in Pakistan. As in urdu they say "chollu bhar pani mein duub marein'

Qaiser Bakhtiari Jul 14, 2013 09:57pm

@Shiraz: yes Shiraz pathetic how it takes US and outsiders to stand up for own children and women. Where as "men" like you are just sitting at home watching jhatkas and matkas of Bollywood.

Rizwan Jul 14, 2013 10:42pm

@MBA: Malala has spoken for the right of education, for the right of children and the power of book,pen and education that can change the world. Instead of appreciating some people are criticizing her. This is really sad. We should evaluate our self if we are with the civilized world or if we are with ignorant and uneducated extremist.

nayab riaz Jul 14, 2013 10:49pm

@Imran: i agree it ,she should come back

Irfan khan Jul 15, 2013 12:44am

@Imran: She was shot here and you want her to come back again???

ahmad Jul 15, 2013 02:01am

sadly that's all what she'll be remembered by. All over the world. because this was the very reason she was played up and given undue importance.

Imran Jul 15, 2013 03:43am

@Shiraz: I love the USA for supporting this child. By the way were you denied a visa to the US mr. Shiraz?

Imran Jul 15, 2013 03:44am

@gangadin: I love the USA for supporting this child. By the way were you denied a visa to the US mr. Gangadin or what ever your real name is ?

a Jul 15, 2013 03:46am

She surely has made the world realize that EVERY man in Pakistan in Afghanistan are against women education and throw acid on their faces.

Azaz Jul 15, 2013 04:06am

@A shah: Mr. Shah there is only one type of Islam which talks about peace, love. tolerance, respect and love. It is individuals who in their twisted minds come up with something that is far far away from what Islam is all about and I and most of Muslims refuse to consider those terrorists Muslims. So please refrain from calling these kafirs as Muslims and what they practice as Islam.

Javed Afridi Jul 15, 2013 08:27am

Very brave and courageous girl. We love Malala! her speech at he UN was inspirational and showed he world that Pakistani's will no bow to these terrorists. Infact, the Malalai effect now has more people than ever joining up for school and enrollmen is up according to the latest figures.

I notice some people are saying negative comments talking about agents etc... they need to keep their mouth shut as Malalai has more courage than any of them who bark behind their computer screens. Those ''haterz'' should focus their energy on the murderes and terrorists who attempted to shoot a young girl to prevent her from going to school and who blow up schools that cost the exchequer lots of money. She is the daughter of our nation and an inspirational force. We love Malalai! Keep up the good work! We are always here to support you!

F.Sayed Jul 15, 2013 08:54am

She is clearly a CIA agent. What kind of a shooter misses his target from 3 feet?? How many others have got so much publicity? I support Mr. Imran's comment, she should come to Pakistan and face problems instead of sitting abroad.

Usman Jul 15, 2013 09:55am

Where are the sign of surgery on his face and head?

Naseema Perveen Jul 15, 2013 10:27am

awesome lady, thumbs up!

khan Jul 15, 2013 12:37pm

The Biggest drama on this planet Called Malala Yousuf Zai.Shame on Pakistani media who forget real icon of Pakistan Arfa Kareem but keep this CIA agent alive on media.:((

Amarnath Jul 15, 2013 01:06pm

@Imran: It is hard to say if you are joking OR you do not know Malala's story OR if there are some mis-wiring in your greycells

Akbar Ahmad Jul 15, 2013 03:03pm

Sad , she is exiled for rest of her life - coming home is out of question, so is for her parents. Talibans will target the whole family.

Muhammad Ahsan Khan Jul 15, 2013 03:18pm

Yes, she is right and she is great. But is she expressing her mind or somebody else is talking through her throat?? This person behind (unknown) is also right and great!!

Naveed A. Jami Jul 15, 2013 03:46pm

Malala, Great Thinker, Philosopher and illuminator of thousand of minds. We are Blessed to have her as our representative.

rida Jul 15, 2013 04:05pm

@Naseema Perveen: yes she is right

Nasira Noor, Jul 15, 2013 11:02pm

Yes! You Ms Malala, rightly said one child, one teacher, one pen and a book in the hands of a child, will become the most powerful weapon to knock-out Taliban from the soil and society of the pak and pure people of Pakistan and also,surely from the other poor countries of the world, too. Long live the lofty ideals of the UN Malala Education for all the boys and girls by 2015 positively.

Ali S Jul 15, 2013 11:34pm

Now at the age of 16, Malala is giving speeches in the UN General Assembly to standing ovations from world leaders, she attends an elite private school in the UK where her family is now settled and her dad has a cushy job with the embassy.

Meanwhile the Taliban who tried to shoot her are probably scrambling somewhere in the hostile mountainous terrain of northwest Pakistan, continuing their rampage of killing and destruction, being deeply unhappy with their own lives and desperate to inflict that unhappiness into others' lives as well.

It's easy to see which side is favoured by God :)

Silajit Jul 16, 2013 07:14pm

@F.Sayed: Would you like to demonstrate this for the rest of us? It is simple: pose for a gunman who promises to shoot you in the head and miss critical organs. Just like Malala, you don't need an ambulance or doctor standing close by.

If you can do it and come out unscathed, I'll be your devotee for life, and will buy ALL your conspiracy theories. If you don't make it alive - the world will be spared one loudmouth and you won't feel a thing. If you don't do it it will be obvious that you're just a loudmouth.

Either way, everyone comes out ahead.