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No celebrations for Malala’s Nobel for fear of Taliban

By: Ashfaq Yusufzai

PESHAWAR: Malala Yousafzai has received several international awards for running a courageous campaign to promote education in Swat during the Taliban’s rule but there is no government-sponsored event to honour the young education campaigner even after she got the Nobel Peace Prize 2014, mainly for fear of militant attacks.

“Both the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and federal governments not only feared the Taliban’s reprisals by holding functions to appreciate the girl, who defied the militant campaign against education,” Dr Khadim Hussain, head of the Bacha Khan Education Foundation, told Dawn.

Dr Khadim said the foundation had been able to organise few events in own capacity but there’s no government patronage to organise a full-scale event and own her publicly.

He said by not holding high-profile events at official level, the country was losing a big opportunity to integrate with the world.

The BKEF head said the militancy-hit Pakistan faced isolation in the world, so it could well take advantage of Malala’s international fame.

Educationist insists country losing chance to integrate with world by not honouring activist at official level
“We can build new schools and colleges and repair those damaged by militants in Swat and tribal areas but it is unfortunate that the government has yet to accord her the status she deserves,” he said.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government disallowed the launch Malala’s book, ‘I am Malala’ at the eleventh hour supposed to be held at the Area Study Centre of the University of Peshawar in January this year.

The university, where discussions, seminars and debate on political, cultural and other issues were frequently held, disappointed organisers.

The book, she co-authored, isn’t freely available throughout the country for fear of attacks by the Taliban.

Hussain said he was not surprised over the Pakistan Tehreek Insaf-led coalition government in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa due to its ‘soft corner’ for the Taliban.

The federal government’s inability to acknowledge her as champion doesn’t bring any amazement either as the PML-N had never opposed militants and terrorism.

According to him, also worrying is the unwillingness of academicians, who frequently speak at different topics at the university but failed to arrange any event to celebrate Malala Yousafzai’s awards on their premises. The professionals don’t hesitate to speak on any subject but don’t utter few words about Malala because of their jobs. Privately they recognise her achievement. Everyone acknowledge that she could be an inspirational force for the youths but stayed away from talking about Malala.

“We are unlucky as we are in position to retrieve social, political and economic benefits Malala, who is international celebrity, but the government is complicit,” Hussain said.

She has invited the Pakistani and Indian prime ministers to attend the ceremony where she would be receiving the Nobel Prize.

Hussain said rallies in press clubs of Islamabad, Mingora and Peshawar to express joy over Malala weren’t suffice considering the respect the youngest recipient of the award had brought to Pakistan.

“She has been widely acclaimed by the bravery even before Nobel Peace Prize. Even Afghanistan organised a function at the Presidential Palace to honour her,” he said.

The BKEF head, also a political analyst, believed that she would act as gravitational force for the young girls not only in Pakistan but throughout the world and that the youths would now struggle to achieve biggest milestones like getting the Nobel Peace Prize.

“Once we get out of state of fear, it would become obvious that Malala enjoys overwhelming popular support among the people from all ages in the country,” he said.

Hussain said Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, PTI chief Imran Khan and leaders of other political parties appreciated her on statements or newspaper advertisements, which didn’t reflect their full support.