By: Mohammad Ahmad
Here you are now, Malala, giving your visionary speech at the UN General Assembly on your 16th birthday. You have made us proud
We had lost hope. The clatter of the guns was the only sound that mattered. Exploding IEDs and suicide bombers were terrorising all. Fear was the strongest emotion. Terror was having a field day. The image of the religion of peace was being distorted by the extremists. The response from society was weak while the response of government was strategic. It wanted to make peace with what they called the ‘good Taliban’. The endgame in Afghanistan was all what mattered. The future looked bleak. The timid response meant doom for the nation.
Then as a gift from the Almighty, in a society where the strong were fearful and the mighty weak, you stood up and said no to fear. While the terrorists and their radical allies want our society to be silent, you spoke your heart. You raised your voice for all those who believed in knowledge. You stood up for the right to education for all. The crowd around you was terrorised and could not raise its voice. Knowing that knowledge is fear’s nemesis, you raised your voice for education. Knowledge is death for the forces of terror and freedom of expression is the ultimate deathblow. The school-blowing terrorists never wanted girls to have access to the doors of knowledge for then girls might learn one day that it was the singular effort of a Muslim woman, Fatima-al-Fihri in 859 AD that helped found the University of Karueein in Fez, Morocco, the oldest existing and still operational university in the world. Your soft voice that refused to get silenced made you win the battle and defeated a strong enemy
Malala Yousazai, you wanted to be a doctor. It is our luck that you have a father who could see that Pakistan needs a change agent. You were inspired to become a politician. What if you grow up to become the prime minister of Pakistan? Your enemy had reasons to fear this thought. For a girl to have such a potential within their area of operation was like a thorn in their side. Devoid of reason, they used the only tactic they know and targeted you as any coward would. The bullet though, lost again. The power of the pen won. All Praise to Allah who helped you survive the attack. Perhaps He had some grand role for you in the future. Here you are now, Malala, giving your visionary speech at the UN General Assembly on your 16th birthday. You have made us proud. Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s soul would be happy to see you deliver your wonderful riposte to the terrorists so eloquently. Not forgetting your roots you wore Benazir Bhutto’s shawl and praised the Prophet of Allah (PBUH). You showed great wisdom and acknowledged the great qualities of world leaders without discrimination. People have been quoting from the Dr Martin Luther King Jr’s speech since decades. Now they’ll quote from yours too. Who knows we might one day see you as the head of the world body.
The war though, is yet to be won. The enemy that deserves liquidation is manoeuvring to make a strong comeback. The recent spate of attacks in the country is to increase pressure on the government and the people of Pakistan to negotiate with terror. Your enemies who bring shame to Islam’s beautiful image and are the enemies of Pakistan want us to negotiate the freedom of women and the weak. We will not let it happen. You are putting in your part in the struggle. It is our duty to do our part and raise our voices in unison so that fear finally loses and liberty and freedom that are guaranteed by Islam are ensured for all without discrimination of caste, creed, gender or religion.
You give us hope, Malala, a hope in Pakistan’s future. We will not let this hope die. Together the nation would make government take the bold decisions that are needed. Extremism will be defeated here and everywhere. While we do this we will remember what Dr Martin Luther King Jr, another civil rights campaigner like you, said in his famous “I have a dream” speech: “In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of…wrongful deeds.” Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We will not be bitter when we win. We will let the fruits of victory reach all, the children of the Taliban included. This is what we have learnt from history. We will remember what you have said in your speech: “I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists. I do not even hate the Talib who shot me. Even if there was a gun in my hand and he was standing in front of me, I would not shoot him. This is the compassion I have learned from Mohammad (PBUH), the prophet of mercy, Jesus Christ and Lord Buddha. This is the legacy of change I have inherited from Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela and Mohammed Ali Jinnah. This is the philosophy of nonviolence that I have learned from Gandhi, Bacha Khan and Mother Teresa…So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism, let us pick up our books and our pens, they are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world.”
Bravo, the ‘Daughter of Pakistan’.
The writer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org