‘For standing up to the Taliban, and everything they represent’ made Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old child activist from Swat Valley, shine on the number 6 spot of the Top 100 Global Thinkers list.
The list was released by Foreign Policy magazine on Monday, November 26. This year, Foreign Policy honoured people who spoke for freedom of speech, for making themselves heard.
Malala was among four Pakistanis who made it to the list this year.
The child activist, who was shot in the head by the Taliban on her way back home from school on October 9, stood up against the Taliban to fight for her and many girls’ right to education. “I shall raise my voice,” she said last year. “If I didn’t do it, who would?”
An earlier report by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation’s Education for All Global Monitoring Report revealed that Pakistan is in the bottom 10 countries, with 62% girls in Pakistan, aged between seven and 15, who have never been to school.
Other Pakistanis on the list
Former ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani and his spouse, Farahnaz Ispahani were placed on number 61 on the list “for pushing tough love for their troubled country.”
Haqqani, who once defended Pakistan’s stance and brokered discussions in order to pacify the US, said in August that the two countries “should stop pretending they are allies and amicably ‘divorce’.”
According to Foreign Policy, the couple who shares the same slot on the list “spent their careers fighting the slow-motion radicalisation of Pakistan.”
The former ambassador was blamed by a judicial commission to have authored a memo delivered to US officials, seeking assistance to overthrow the military brass of the country.
Branding the controversial memorandum “an authentic document”, the commission – headed by Balochistan High Court Chief Justice Qazi Faez Isa and comprising chief justices of Sindh and Islamabad High Court as its members – pointed out that Haqqani did indeed seek US help — possibly to sell himself as an indispensable asset to the Americans.
His wife, Ispahani, had written in her opinion piece for the Washington Post this year that there was a “systematic elimination of anyone who stands up to the country’s generals, who have created a militarised Islamist state.”
Following the Memogate controversy, Haqqani resigned from his post as Pakistan’s envoy, while Ispahani’s membership of parliament was suspended in a dual nationality case against her.
On number 100 spot on the list is Pakistani blogger Sana Saleem, who made it to the list for “insisting that free speech is not blasphemy.”
Saleem’s campaign against government censorship ‘Bolo Bhi’ landed her a place in the list. In order to push for free speech, Saleem fought against a proposal by the government to filter and block Uniform Resource Locators by installing a firewall.
She reached out to executives at international companies, asking them not to participate in building the firewall and succeeded in making the government shelve the proposal.
She spoke against the parallels drawn between free speech and blasphemy, and in her blog, ‘Mystified Justice’, she said, “When a state embroils its citizens in an ‘either you are with us or against us’ argument every dissent is at risk of being equated to treason — or in an Islamic country, blasphemy.”