The Anti Terrorism Court’s decision to implicate ten Pakistani Taliban for the assassination attempt on Malala Yusafzai for up to 25 years imprisonment shows judicial resolve to fight terrorism and must be seen in a positive light. However, it must be kept in mind that the man suspected of actually firing the gun at Malala, named by officials as Ataullah Khan, is believed to be on the run in Afghanistan, along with the organization’s chief Mullah Fazlullah, who ordered the attack.

While the limitations of the fight upfront remain, the issue again reminds one of the treacherous conflict that the young human rights campaigner stood up for – the equal right to education of females in any civilized society. The Taliban, Boko Haram and their counterparts in the rest of the world need to understand that their tribal culture and its values cannot be imposed in the twenty first century and were not practical even thousands of years ago. Islam gave equal rights to women and their empowerment, how could such a progressive movement for its times impose such discriminatory limitations? The determination of Pakistani people and the state in this regard is visible and it is hoped that the rest of the institutions, particularly media, will play their role without any fear or bias. The role of religious leaders is pivotal as they have access to the people through the pulpit which is traditionally listened to and followed.

Narratives need to be altered. The procedural and systemic marginalization of the female child’s role in society needs to be curtailed. This needs to start in the home, at schools, in syllabi and textbooks. Malala’s fight is larger than merely gaining for herself, or her father, political glory. It’s a phenomenal tale of struggle against monsters that needs to be highlighted time and again to ensure that it proves to be a game changer in the fight against terrorism.

Religious orthodoxy has taken a dark turn in our society and coupled with extremist value sets, it is now capable of silencing moderate voices by hook or by crook. We need to ensure that the spirit of Malala finds itself embodied in every young girl of our country – the spirit of standing up against hate crime and marginalization with impeccable courage.