The life story of a 15-year Pakistani girl Malala who was shot by the Taliban will be published later in 2013, in a deal reported to be worth around £2m.
“I am Malala” will be published in the autumn and will tell the story ofMalala Yousafzai, who was shot by Taliban gunmen after she became an advocate for woman’s education in the Swat Valley. She now attends a school in Birmingham.
“I want to tell my story, but it will also be the story of 61m children who can’t get education. I want it to be part of the campaign to give every boy and girl the right to go to school. It is their basic right.”
The book, which will be published by Weidenfeld & Nicholson in the UK and Commonwealth and by Little, Brown in the rest of the world, is the latest stage of Yousafzai’s public life which almost ended in tragedy.
Yousafzai began writing a blog on the BBC Urdu service under a pseudonym about life in the Swat Valley in 2009. The Taliban were expanding their influence and at times banned girls from going to school and the Pakistani army fought to re-establish control.
Her real identity became known and she frequently appeared in Pakistani and international media advocating for the right of girls to go to school. In October 2011, Archbishop Desmond Tutu nominated her for the International Children’s Peace Prize and in December 2011 she was awarded Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize.
In the book, Yousafzai writes: “I come from a country that was created at midnight. When I almost died it was just after midday. It was Tuesday, October 9, 2012, not the best of days as it was the middle of school exams, though as a bookish girl I don’t mind them as much as my friends do.
“We’d finished for the day and I was squashed between my friends and teachers on the benches of the open-back truck we use as a school bus. There were no windows, just thick plastic sheeting that flapped at the sides and was too yellowed and dusty to see out of, and a postage stamp.”
Since the shooting, Yousafzai has been awarded several peace prizes and is the youngest person to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Ban Ki-Moon, the secretary general of the United Nations, announced that the UN will celebrate Malala Day on 10 November.
A spokeswoman for Weidenfeld and Nicolson could not confirm reports about the value of the publishing deal.
Arzu Tahsin, the deputy publishing director of Weidenfeld & Nicolsonsaid: “This book will be a document to bravery, courage and vision. Malala is so young to have experienced so much and I have no doubt that her story will be an inspiration to readers from all generations who believe in the right to education and the freedom to pursue it.”
Malala Yusufzai was shot in Mingora, Swat, a district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, was shot while returning home from her school. She is only 14.
What was her crime? She wrote a weekly blog for the BBC Urdu website in 2009 while the Taliban were occupying Swat and bombing schools and preventing girls from attending educational institutions.
She came into limelight after the ouster of Taliban from Swat. She started attending NGO meetings and making speeches for the right of girls to attain education. She was nominated for an international award and given one by the Pakistan Government.
The Islamic fundamentalists did not like it. On October 9,2012, two masked gunmen, apparently sent by the Taliban leadership to silence Malala forever, stopped her school van, identified her and shot her in the head. She is now fighting for her life and the doctors as of October 12 are saying that the next 36 hours are crucial for her as she fights for her life in a military hospital in Rawalpindi.
“We had no intentions to kill her but were forced when she would not stop (speaking against us),” said spokesman Sirajuddin Ahmad, now based in Afghanistan’s Kunar province while talking to Reuters news agency.
Ahmed said the Taliban held a meeting a few months ago at which they unanimously agreed to kill her. The task was then given to military commanders to carry out.
Did they kill her because she was propagating against Islam? She was only talking about the right of girls to go to schools. Is this unIslamic?
The bottomline is that Taliban cannot stand criticism. They are not democrats and do not believe in any reasoning or freedom of expression or speech. They simply believe in silencing the critic by physically eliminating her or him for ever.
This threat of gun has made the whole nation hostage to these religious bigots.
Resultantly, religious intolerance, bigotry and terrorism have become the wages of State’s policy of appeasement towards forces of obscurantism.
We know how the State is and we cannot and should not expect any miracles from it. The people will have to stop playing on the Islamic fundamentalists’ wicket. It is time that the secular and liberal forces come out in the open and let the nation know their numbers and worth. Otherwise, it may be too late for all of us.
We all hope that Malala will live to see the love and the respect the nation and even the world has given her. However, the war is not over. The Swat Taliban spokesman has now threatened to kill 14-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai’s father after a failed attempt to assassinate his daughter, as reported by Reuters.
The spokesman for “Radio Mullah” Maulana Fazlullah’s Swat Taliban which previously had control over the Swat region, told Reuters that two killers from Fazlullah’s special hit squad had been sent to target the young schoolgirl. The Swat Taliban militia, known to work under the Tehriki Taliban Pakistan (TTP) umbrella, has a force of around 100 men specialised in targeted killing, fighters said. They chose two men, aged between 20 to 30, who were locals from Swat Valley, Reuters quoted the fighters as saying.
A military offensive had pushed Fazlullah out of Swat in 2009, but his men had melted away across the border to Afghanistan.
Earlier this year, Fazlullah’s men kidnapped and beheaded 17 Pakistani soldiers in one of several cross border raids.
“Before the attack, the two fighters personally collected information about Malala’s route to school, timing, the vehicle she used and her security,” Reuters quoted the spokesman as saying.
They decided to shoot her near a military checkpoint to make the point they could strike anywhere, he said.
Ziauddin Yousufzai, the headmaster of a girls’ school, is on their hit list for speaking against them, his activities to promote peace in the region and for encouraging his daughter.
“We have a clear-cut stance. Anyone who takes side with the government against us will have to die at our hands,” spokesman warned. “You will see. Other important people will soon become victims.”
In the meantime, the propaganda by the conservative forces against Malala and her family is increasing. Why did the authorities not take Malala and her father into custody for taking part in a propaganda film, they ask?
How did he keep an Israeli in his home for six months to record a documentary? It is unlikely that any Israeli ever visited them or could even be granted visa to come to Pakistan and why would anyone live with the family for six months. However, the propaganda continues unabated.
This family is all drama, the Taliban claim. According to the religious forces, Malala just repeated the words her father taught her and that she is not brave.
The Americans gave her an award of bravery in return for her role and Zardari had to give one too, they say.
Lastly, they question the justification for attacking Waziristan by asking as to what the people of Waziristan have to do with Malala or her attackers?
Malala — Not The Broker, But The Breaker Of Silence
By Baseer Naweed
When a young girl led the way in the fight against extremism it is the duty of all to come out and show solidarity with her. This was the right time to come out against religious extremism and if they kill us then so be it. Hopefully, thousands of other Malalas would continue the battle. This battle is also for my own children.
This determination is noteworthy as people generally have become dejected by the silence of Pakistani society. One can only hope that perhaps the new generation is taking the lead in what we, the present generation, and those before us, failed to do.
Malala at the age of 11 was nominated among five children from all over the world for the ‘Children’s Nobel Prize’ and came second. Malala was quick to praise the winner, a disabled child to whom Malala gave full credit. When asked what her reaction was when learning that she had come second she said, “I am happy for Michaela for winning the prize as she is a special child and is already working for the disabled children,” adding, in fact, “I couldn’t even stop my tears while seeing Michaela receiving the prize as it was hard for her to hold the prize due to her being a disabled child”.
Even at the tender age of 11 she adamantly stated, “To me education is the only tool that makes a man civilized, a good citizen and helps to develop the Pashtun society.”
The International Children’s Peace Prize is presented annually to a child who’s courageous or otherwise remarkable acts have made a difference in countering problems which affect children around the world.
Malala was one of the five nominees chosen out of 98 children that were put forward by organizations and individuals from 42 different countries. Archbishop Desmond Tutu, himself a Nobel Peace Laureate, announced the five nominees for the International Children’s Peace Prize 2011 in Cape Town. The prize is an initiative of the Dutch organization ‘Kids Rights’ and was launched during the 2005 Nobel Peace Laureates’ Summit chaired by Mikhail Gorbachev. That year, Michaela Mycroft (17) from South Africa was awarded with the Children’s Peace Prize.
Malala was attacked by Taliban to punish her for campaigning for the education of young girls. One thought that the reaction through emails, Facebook, and Twitter would dwindle after a few days and new issues would pop up. And, when that happened, who would care about Malala?
The so-called independent media, which is more tilted towards the right wing and military establishment, would ultimately give more coverage to the Taliban as they usually do and come out with some appeasing comments such as the attack was the result of drone attacks or a military operation. After all Taliban are Pakistani and the attack was carried out by someone else in order to discredit the Taliban.
However, the reaction to the attack did not lose force, but continues even till today. The media and the journalists, besides the teachers and professors, the parents and other sections of society did more than could be expected of ordinary persons, despite the overshadowing threat of religious extremism.
An attempt to kill a 14 year old girl from a remote area of Pakistan radically altered the thinking of an entire society and the silence that prevailed in that society since the 1980s was broken. The silence had remained since the army with the nexus of fundamentalist forces coerced the whole country into crushing the freedom of expression under the name of national security and in the greater interest of the country.
The establishment of Pakistan, which mostly consists of the armed forces, the judiciary, and the bureaucrats, has consciously prompted religious groups to form a “religious power center” to crush the freedom of expression in the country. The other purpose of the religious power center has been to make such a force where the democratic institutions like Parliament and elected bodies lose their bargaining power to confront the military establishment for its role in sordid politics.
The freedom of expression, which is said to be the mother of all human rights, was the first to be eroded through the religious power center, so that society be made to remain silent and people’s actions against corruption and misuse of power would be minimized. At the same time, the importance of education was also minimised. Also, the urge of the masses for a democratic society was strangled. In the span of just a few years, thousands of Madressas (Islamic seminaries) were built with black money and funding from Saudi Arabia. Hundreds of thousands of students were produced through the Madressas, which have swelled the ranks of the militants to crush independent thinking and free choice of judgment in the masses. The blasphemy laws were the best tool in the hands of the bigots to declare who is infidel and who is pious. Even the student’s examinations papers were checked by applying blasphemy laws.
There is no doubt that Malala must be given the credit for breaking the silence imposed by fear, coercion, and terrorism through her brave and untiring courage to speak out. After the attempt to kill her shook the society out of its indifference against the religious militancy and the religious power center, the school children throughout the country came out in her support. The country’s youth came onto the streets and every person participated.
All this was thanks to Malala, the first person to break the silence – the silence that the elected representatives and intellectuals failed to break, even after over 40,000 people have died in Taliban instigated violence.
All these have proved to be the ‘silent broker’ as this was the best way of opportunism to deal with wasted interests so that system based on strangulating society, on one or the other excuse, should remain intact and we should be claimed to be the champions of civil liberties, freedom and rights.
It is sad that this silence resounded even after the assassinations, in broad daylight, of the Governor of Punjab and the Federal Minister of Human Rights. No one came onto the streets in protest. Instead, the killer of the Governor was feted by lawyers, religions parties, and the people themselves. The retired Chief Justice of the Lahore High Court went so far as to offer his legal services to the assassin, as the assassin was immediately symbolized as a hero for Islam. And, most shamefully, the government remained a silent spectator and left everything in the hands of the religious bigots, and this, even after the governor’ son was abducted from his house by the Taliban. Two years hence his whereabouts still remain unknown, and the government does not want to rock the boat.
This appalling silence was in stark contrast to the reaction of the people to the attack on this brave young girl, who, at the age of 11, started writing a weekly diary to the BBC. Her campaign for the right to education started long before the military operation in the Swat Valley in 2009. When the Taliban moved into the valley, over 2000 schools were destroyed by bombings and suicide attacks. The women were flogged in open places, barber shops were stormed, and anyone found with a hair cut was beaten. All this was done in the name of Shariah. At the age of only 11, it was Malala that said enough is enough and had the courage to speak out. She did this in her limited capacity, but it was enough to frighten the Taliban into taking action. The lava building up inside minds of 180 million people finally erupted after the attack.
The world has seen so many conquerors in its thousands of years of history, but it was the pen of a humble 14-year-old girl that conquered not only the minds and hearts of the people of Pakistan, but those of freedom-minded people all over the world. It is only now that the people are demanding that the terrorists are crushed. The government, military, and all other stakeholders, however, are adding to the confusion by saying that the attack was in retaliation to the drone attacks, military operation, and the policy of the United States towards the Taliban. The state of mind prevalent in Pakistan for the last 66 years still allows for conspiracy theories in favour of the Taliban – that Malala is funded by the US.
In one of her earlier comments, she said that she respected Obama and they are now using this as ‘evidence’ of their accusations. This was emphasised by the fact that when the Chief of Army Staff visited Malala, after the pressure of public opinion became too strong in her favour, he condemned the attack but made no condemnation of the Taliban. This lapse was obviously done in the spirit of appeasement, despite the fact that the Taliban boasted about their responsibility for the attack. They have publically stated that they will continue their murderous attempts if she recovers from her injuries and will not rest until she is dead. Since the attack, they have continued their assault on the local schools in Swat Valley. And, to-date two more schools have been destroyed.
What the Taliban and the Pakistani establishment have failed to see is that the one person unaffected by the conspiracy theories is Malala herself. Her message to the people of the country and the world in general is simply: every child has the right to education, regardless of whether they are male or female. She has presented this message bravely, willing to sacrifice her life and in doing so has completed the job started by numerous NGOs and INGOs with enormous budgets and the backing of the international community. She has become a symbol for students all over the world.
Malala was not the broker of silence but the breaker of silence.
Filed under: Swat, Talibanization, Terrorism in Pakistan, Uncategorized | Tagged: Human Rights, Malala Yousafzai, Pakistan, Pakistan under PM Gilani, Taliban, Terrorism in Pakistan, War on Terror | Leave a Comment »