A war veteran once wrote in The Washington Post about Malala that his own courage, his bravery, his training to face challenges, paled in front of a teenage girl from a third world country, who stood up and faced life threatening danger … and then went on to become the voice of the downtrodden and a beacon of hope for children worldwide.

Malala tugged at many hearts when as a child she stood on rubble of her school and shook her little fist at the Taliban for denying education to girls long before they attacked and critically injured her. Her courage was like a slap in the face of the powers of evil for they could not crush her spirit or her resolve despite her tender age.

But the girl who had spoken with such eloquence in the UN, in front of world leaders and in so many forums, broke down and cried when she spoke upon return to her cherished homeland. This showed how she must have dreamed about this day in her confinement abroad. Home coming will hopefully be a catharsis for young Malala and help in washing away her fears and unpleasant memories.

I wonder what it is about our country that despite all its problems, the complications, the evils and hardships rampant here, the nationalistic feelings cannot be dampened for long.

Malala has made us proud over and over again. When she recovered miraculously, her mind, body and above all her determination and tenacity intact, she mesmerised the world with her clarity of thought, the way she conducted herself in situations where even veterans would balk.

Her eloquence, in Urdu and English, her poise and grace, her clarity of thought and expression was a feat beyond her young age which impressed local and international community alike.

It made the world wonder how such a little girl, born and brought up and educated in a remote city of third world Pakistan, could be so confident and so clear headed about the vision , not only about her own country but about and the world in general.

It spoke volumes to the world about our people, our girls, our education system, our parents who nurtured their children against all odds, our values and priorities in the face of so many difficulties.

Was she a prodigy? An enigma?

The youngest recipient of the Nobel Peace prize, the most coveted award any country would dream of, was bestowed on Malala and she donated large sums to Pakistan for education - yet she could not return home for fear of threat to her life!

How ironic!

The Taliban threat remained.

Taliban. How ironic to call them by that word! A term used for the educated, for those aspiring to receive education!

Who would have thought that by her sheer bravery she will make her attempted assassins and their ideology appear so shamefully base and so repulsively repugnant?

How ironic that despite the fact that Malala has brought nothing but pride and honour to her country, despite the fact that the whole world has appreciated her sacrifices and her efforts to make the world a better place, the only criticism she received has been from some of her own countrymen.

Was it jealousy, or suspicion or a distortion of facts that caused this resentment? Despite the fact that Malala never once uttered any controversial words, despite the fact that she always spoke about principles, making many hearts swell with pride as she stood on the world stage. She pointed out the sacrifices of her countrymen. She stressed the need for empowering children and women in order to defeat the powers of evil. She spoke about inter faith harmony. She stressed the need to live in peace. She once even hoped to reform her attackers by enlightening them.

And she always dressed modestly and in her national dress. Her actions or speeches never once demeaned her country and she bought an unpresented number of accolades to Pakistan.

If all that is not enough to make her a patriotic Pakistani, what else can be?

But fortunately, Malala has innumerable admirers in her country too as well as overwhelming admiration around the world.

Because Malala is not a person. She is a belief, a candle in the darkness. People like her are born once in a while.

Hers seem to be the classic case, like David and Goliath, the war between good and evil, of justice against barbarity, of light against darkness.

She has done more than her share of what has to be done to make this world a better place. Her contribution to Pakistan has been much more than any political figure. Now she needs to be supported. Her intentions, her achievements and the laurels she has brought to us must not be looked upon with suspicion. We need to stand behind her and support her efforts.

A young woman, from a restrictive society, fighting against the barbaric forces for universal freedom and enlightenment of the human race, Malala’s mission is neither easy nor free from danger. It is a mission that was thrust upon her but she has faced the challenge gallantly.

The world envies us for owning a young girl like Malala. Let us celebrate our young heroine to the hilt. Let us use her potential for the advantage of our country and for the betterment of the world in general.

 

The author is the Project Coordinator for a Pak-German humanitarian organisation and a freelance writer.

nigiaziz@hotmail.com