ISLAMABAD: A number of people in the country may hold an uncharitable opinion about Malala Yousuzai’s worldwide efforts to promote girls’ education but the government has decided to make use of money from a fund set up by her for an education project.
The sceptics are not only laymen who doubt whether the young education activist was actually shot at by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) but also people holding powerful positions in the government who have downplayed her internationally recognised efforts.
The young Malala — who shot to instant worldwide fame after TTP militants attacked and severely injured her in Swat in October 2012 for promoting the cause of girls’ education — has set up the Malala Fund to “empower girls to raise their voices, unlock their potential and demand change”.
In February, the ministry of finance signed an agreement with the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation under which $7 million from the Malala Fund would be spent on an education project which would focus on remote areas of the country.
The 36-month project will be executed in three phases. A blueprint of the project will be prepared in the first phase which would last six months. Work on it started on March 18.
The second phase will be of implementation of the project and will spread over two years. Activities will be launched to widen girls’ access to education and improve the retention and completion rates of girls through improvement in quality of education.
The third phase will be of documentation.
From the day one when Malala was attacked, the TTP apologists came up with a conspiracy theory and said it was a CIA-managed incident to defame the country, although a TTP spokesperson had accepted responsibility for the shooting.
But the world rallied behind the cause of education for girls. Malala was showered with international awards for her courageous act and even nominated for the Noble Peace Prize.
On July 12 last year, she addressed the United Nations General Assembly and the event was dubbed as “Malala Day”.
The response of Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif to her speech surprised many. He was reported to have said in a tweet: “Good speech by Malala, could have been better — seemed to be written for global consumption and tried to please everyone at home & abroad.”
The comment was criticised and the tweet was immediately removed.
In January this year, the PTI-led Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government barred Peshawar University from hosting a ceremony for launching Malala’s biography “I am Malala”.
This prompted Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf chairman Imran Khan to criticise the government of his own party.
Later, it came to be known that the government had stopped the university administration from holding the ceremony because of the fear of Taliban reprisal.