After the horrific attack on child activist Malala Yousafzai a couple of weeks ago, the Taliban have threatened another young voice. Hina Khan, a class 11 student and resident of Swat who has also bravely spoken out against Taliban rule and the need for girls’ education claims she too is on the Taliban hit list.
She and her family have also claimed that, despite fleeing the Swat valley and moving to Islamabad in 2006, the government has failed to provide any security for the teenage girl. This young girl’s biggest fear is not being able to attend school — a right for which she is now being intimidated — even in Islamabad. The threats against the girl, which have gained momentum after the Malala incident, include telephone calls telling her she is next and a spray painted red cross on her doorstep. These are well known tactics designed to instil fear and deter anyone from deviating from the Taliban’s stone cold code of conduct.
It is hugely unsettling that visible target such as this girl and Malala before her have to resort to press conferences and media outlets to get their grievances heard. What is the government waiting for? Another schoolgirl shot at point blank range just for trying to get an education? At the recent SAFMA conference in Islamabad, President Zardari made some comments that really let girls like Hina Khan down.
He said that Malala was not provided with security because that would have made her even more of a target and invited a bigger attack. What kind of logic is this? If one were to follow this rationale, why are politicians provided with lavish and over-the-top security? Not providing campaigners of rights — especially child activists — with security and protection is a grave mistake indeed, as one has seen in the Malala incident.
While every school going child cannot be provided with security and escorts, young children who are actively speaking out for all those things the militants oppose should be granted some protection. After all, only few are brave enough to do so and can very easily be given security. This country needs a few sane voices; it is a shame we are remiss in protecting them. *