Malala Yousafzai came to Pakistan 6 years after the lethal attack on her life. Her arrival was welcomed by the government in an unprecedented fashion. The government and the armed forces had kept news of her arrival under wraps until she landed in the capital amidst tight security. Exhilarated upon touching ground, Malala vowed to return to Pakistan soon after the completion of her studies.
What does it mean for the extremist faction of the society? 6 years ago Taliban were distributing warning messages against girls’ education. They had destroyed girls’ schools. The spirit of Swat’s families was stronger. Malala’s voice was that ray of hope in the period Taliban plundered schools in Swat. Her blog, “Gul Makai,” was published by BBC and caught global attention.
Hence when the Taliban stopped a vehicle of school going girls, they asked, who is Malala?
Malala’s book’s title was mimics her reply in 2012: “I am Malala.” She not only defied death by surviving a bullet in her head. Her past 6 years are witness to her resolve, her quiet defiance and the ability to forgive those who robbed her of her childhood.
Malala, who spoke to the media about longing to play with her friends and neighbours, has grown into a confident 20-year old woman with a Nobel Prize under her belt and a Malala Fund committed to women’s education. She is enrolled in Oxford and dreams on becoming Prime Minister of Pakistan someday.
Malala’s visit home is a step in the right direction. Not only will it help develop and strengthen the soft image of a country and its drive against the religious extremism, it also sends a message to the world that they care for peace and will go to any lengths to preserve it.
Sadly, the extremist religious people are not the only ones eyeing Malala and her journey with suspicion. A host of educated Pakistanis are mistrustful of Malala popularity. These self-proclaimed liberals like to believe in some international agenda at play working towards defaming the nation-state.
At the beging of the millennium our last military dictator had confiscated Mukhtaran Mai’s passport and proclaimed that women can stoop low to get international passports. He alluded that her international visit’s would bring a bad to the country. Mukhtaran must have wondred how could her speaking about her ordeal would tarnish the country’s image. Her rapists needed to be wary not the government and certainly not the nation.
Malala is no poster-child from Mangora, Swat. She is a living and breathing Pakistan. Her struggles are symbolic of what the nation has suffered at the hands of extremists and corrupt and deluded leadership. If the Pakistan government and establishment are keen on promoting the soft image of the country, they would have to save all Malalas, eradicate extremism and invest in education that promotes critical thinking among citizen.