14-year-old Swat girl Hadiqa Bashir wins Asian Girls Human Rights Ambassador award

10 Oct 2016


14-year-old Swat activist Hadiqa Bashir. ─ Photo by author.
14-year-old Swat activist Hadiqa Bashir. ─ Photo by author.

TAIPEI: Hadiqa Bashir, a 14-year-old women's rights activist from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Swat district, became the first Pakistani girl to receive the Asian Girls Human Rights Ambassador award on Monday.

Hadiqa was selected from among four girls for the award which was presented to her on the International Day of the Girl Child, which is also Taiwan Girls’ Day, during an event organised by the Garden of Hope Foundation and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taiwan.

She dedicated the award to the lawyers who were killed in a suicide attack outside Quetta's Civil Hospital in August, and to Kashmiris who continue to face violence in India-held Kashmir.

While accepting the award she called for the Kashmiri people's right to self-determination be realised and condemned atrocities committed by Indian forces in IHK, asking for them to be stopped.

"I stand in unity with the mothers, sister and brothers of Kashmir who are victims of violence committed against them by the Indian forces," she said. "Pakistan is a peace loving country and daughters of Pakistan do not support war as they believe war cannot bring peace. Wars only bring devastation."

Upon receiving the award, Hadiqa vowed to "fight for the rights of women and young girls, from Syria to Palestine, Kashmir and Myanmar", and raise her voice for her "Muslim sisters and sisters from all over Asia".

Iftikhar Hussain, Hadiqa's father, said that it was the happiest day of his life to see his daughter receiving the award for a noble cause.

"What else can a father ask from a daughter than such a big matter of pride? Really, she has made me and our country proud today," he told Dawn.

Last year, Hadiqa Bashir earned international recognition after being awarded the third Muhammad Ali Humanitarian Award for dedicating her life to ending the practice of child marriages in Pakistan.

"The award reaffirms my conviction that with truth, courage and determination as our weapons, my country, Pakistan will be liberated from every type of injustice and violence. I did not make the journey here alone. Numerous people have supported me along the way," she said at the time.