By Waheed Hussain
On Pakistan Defence Day the pride of Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai has received the International Children’s Peace Prize trophy from Yemeni Civil Rights activist at the Ridderzaal, Hague. Few days back she was also honored to inaugurate the world’s best futuristic-state of -the art library in Birmingham. Since the day Malala was attacked by the terrorists in her local district Swat, the brave girl, who struggled for the girls’ education in the Valley, became known to world outside Pakistan. The reason of attack, as many of us know was, that, the young Malalal stood for the girls’ right to education in the most difficult times and circumstances, when terrorists were regularly destroying girls’ schools. They were threatening parents, teachers and students of dire consequences, if they dared to pursue modern education in the entire beautiful Swat Valley. During her address at the library inauguration Malala once again unveiled her philosophy and ideology saying “books were the weapons to defeat terrorism.” Naturally, she was absolutely right as books were the most powerful tool than any of the sophisticated modern weapon on the face of this earth. As they (books) carry knowledge and information of visible and invisible world, objects, ideas, believes, philosophies, concepts and theories.
Malala knows the worth of books as on the basis of which, she herself fought against the forces of tyranny, darkness, backwardness and illiteracy. She stood against those primitive elements who wanted to impose their radical and ridiculous violent ideologies on the masses through use of force. The terrorists and obscurants had declared “fatwas” against the girls’ education as it was against Islam; however, those crude and mad ideas had nothing to do either with Islam or Pakistan.
Those criminal elements didn’t want that the youth particularly girls should get the required modern education and true knowledge about their religion. The terrorists’ objective was to keep the girls illiterate and backward so that they could not learn and understand anything about society, basic human rights, constitution and various laws. Education of a girl meant to educate the future mother who was the first seat of learning for a child. An educated mother was a blessing to guide the innocent soul to the right path. Those criminals wanted to keep the future mothers illiterate so that they could not guide or train the young generation. The educated mother would never let her children to be misused by criminals, miscreants, extremists and terrorist on the name of Islam.
After 9/11 the persistent unrest in Afghanistan badly effected peace and stability in Pakistan. The wave of terrorism travelled from our neighbor ‘Afghanistan’ first into Pakistani tribal areas and from there to the rest of the country. The miscreants and terrorist wanted to challenge writ of the state by disseminating their false ideas about religion among the general public.
In the last 10 years the terrorists have killed fifty thousand innocent citizens including security forces and destroyed over 400 schools either partially or completely in the various parts of seven tribal agencies and the settled districts of the Khyber Pathtoonkhwa province of Pakistan. Recently the terrorists exploded a boom near a school in the Bannu District of the KPK province killing several people including innocent students. However, despite all odds and threats by the terrorists thousands of schools and other educational institutions were operating in various parts of FATA and KPK where millions of students both girls and boys get education every day.
Malala’s sacrifice and mission gave motivation to millions of boys and girls throughout the country. Majority of our public including parents were in the favor of advanced education for their children. It would be a surprise for many within and outside Pakistan that every year most of the top positions in the annual examination were secured by girls’ students at school, college and university levels. Many of our girl students frequently travel to the European and other foreign countries for the advance education. As for as parents, religious scholars, society and government were concerned, every individual as well as institutions promote “education for all.” This concept of education for all means both girls and boys living every nook and corner of the country.
There were certain so-called pseudo scholars and intellectuals who wanted to defame Pakistan regarding the girls’ education without having firsthand knowledge and information about Pakistan. In certain cases those analysts might have not either landed in Pakistan or travelled in the various areas of the country would disseminate incorrect information rather some time cooked up one on various sensitive issues.
They have their particular agendas to defame Pakistan for their personal benefit. There might be certain anti-Pakistan forces which want to exploit the war on terror situation in their own favor. But the facts are totally different than what was being depicted and portrayed in the certain foreign media. This country has more women parliamentarians than any other country of the world. We had woman Prime Minister, Speaker of the National Assembly, Federal Ministers, doctors, pilots, sports women, media and entertainment celebrities, CEOs of companies, ambassadors, bureaucrats, bankers, and entrepreneurs.
Yes, like many other countries we do have problems and challenges in certain pockets in the society. The Indians have internal issues of poverty, discrimination with low cast and minorities, the black Americans got their basic human rights after almost two hundred years of the country’s independence. The European women got their economic, political and social rights after 2nd World War. So every society and state progress and develops through the evolutionary process. We are making mistakes and at the same time trying to learn from our mistakes as well. We know that until our youth gets the best of the best education we would not be able to complete the modern developed world.
The knowledge based economy needs that we should have the well educated professionals in every field. If we have to counter any kind of extremism and terrorism, overcome social and economic problems, we must establish more and more quality educational institutions for both girls and boys. And as I quoted saying of Malala in the beginning of this writ up that books and education was the only weapon through which terrorism and extremism could be defeated. As long as Pakistan has proud daughters like Malala Yousafzai this country will have bright future. Though the pride of Pakistan is away from her city and people for the time being, however, hundreds of thousands of Malalas of this nation were working on her mission. The mission is to empower women to empower Pakistan. The entire nation stands with the Malala ‘s ideology of peace, progress and prosperity. We hope that one day the pride of this nation would be back to her native land to see her dream come true.
Writer is a broadcast journalist based in Islamabad.