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Malala asks government to retain old name of Saidu college

PESHAWAR: Malala Yusufzai has asked the government to change the name of a degree college in Saidu Sharif back to its original name and allay fears and sense of insecurity amongst the nearly two thousands girls studying there.

The request by the young icon of the right of girls to seek education came amid protests by students of Saidu Sharif Degree College for Girls over naming of the institution after Malala Yusufzai, fearing this could invite trouble and threats from the militants in the once-troubled Swat district.

“She called me last week and asked that the name of the college be changed and reverted back to its original name or any other name except her,” Swat District Coordination Officer Kamran Rehman Khan told Dawn.

Eighteen hundred students of what is now Malala Degree College for Girls went on protest after the government named the college after the defiant girl, shot in the head by militants in October.

The girls fear that renaming of the college after Malala could put their lives at risk as well as their institution at the hands of the unforgiving militants.

“The protesters were not against Malala but they feared that naming of the college could pose a serious security threat to them as well as their institution,” the official said.

He said that Malala called to request that the name of the college be reverted back to what it was and understood that it could pose a threat to the students and the institution. She asked that her name be removed.

“I think it was very good of her,” the DCO remarked. “There was no threat to the college but she understood the girls’ unease and sense of insecurity,” he added. He said that Malala sounded well and said that she was recovering well. He also spoke to her father, Ziauddin Yusufzai, who endorsed his daughter’s views on changing the name of the college.

The DCO said that he had sent a written report to the provincial government based on Malala’s own request. “It is now for the government to decide whether it wants to stick to its decision or let the old name be restored,” Mr Khan said. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Ameer Haider Khan Hoti had named the Saidu Sharif Degree College for Girls after Malala following the attempt on her life in her hometown. She is undergoing treatment at a hospital in UK.