Malalah Yusafzai – The wonder girl
Narinder Pal Singh
Swat is located just 160 kms from Islaamabaad. It is also known as the Switzerland of Pakistan. Malalah, who belongs to Mingora village of this terror-prone North West Frontier Province of Pakistan, no doubt was just an ordinary girl like her peers, however she still enjoyed something extraordinary among them owing to her courage and ideological potency. She wanted to do something great for others as she believed that everybody lives for himself but what is new in it! So she chose the path of a greater cause – to fight courageously the ruthless repression and persecution of the bull-headed Talibanis. She learnt very early that to add strength and value to her ‘universal fight’ for the restoration of the fundamental rights as granted by birth to each and every children, she had to face varied and excruciating difficulties and she had no doubt that she would emerge victorious one day.
Thinking that the moment they step out of their houses, Talibanis, Islamic fundamentalists, would shoot them, nobody from Malalah village, located in Swat valley, dared to come out of and they preferred to enjoy the comfort and warmth of their houses but it was only she who didn’t get shattered and felt coward rather she openly challenged the inglorious hegemony of the Taliban.
The word ‘Malalah’ means ‘full of sorrow’ but instead of being dejected and desperated Malalah fought the evil forces of her valley with enormous passion and unflinching human courage. The vision of her father regarding Malalah was so great that he kept her name after the name of a famous folk singer, Malaalaai, who belonged to the Pashtun tribe of Afghanistan. Ziauddin Yusafzai, her father, who manages a school, perceived very early that her daughter would definitely do wonder and earn name and fame for them.
Her father infused in her such time-testing values and ideological strength that she didn’t even feel timid against the hardlined Talibanis, who believe in polygamy, i.e can keep four women at a time, who suppress and oppress women, deal with them like a commodity, attack on their fundamental and human rights, murder them on any pretext, take women as bonded slaves, consider them an extra load on the shoulders of society, have no respect and value for their dignity and who bar them from from going to schools and markets. One can clearly perceive that in spite of savagious and brutish mentality of the Talibanis, Malalah who was just a minor girl at that time didn’t even budge an inch from her pristine struggle against their terror and execrable deeds.
In 2009 when she was in class seventh she came to hear that the Talibanis had issued a Fatwa or religious edict that no girl would try to go to school and they must be confined to their homes, Malalah raised this issue with her father and showed impeculiar courage by stressing that she wouldn’t get discouraged and afraid rather she would go to school and moreover the matter didn’t end there, she wrote a passionate poem and got her poem published in one of the papers of Rawalpindi.
Malalah wasn’t created in a moment as by a stroke of magic brush but she had already been working before that fateful day when she was shot down point blankly by those coward and hardcore Talibanis who got completely intimidated by even her tenderness and innocence. It was only the values and streamlined parenting of her father, Ziauddin, that she was able to start speaking fluently even from her primary classes. With the guidelines of her father – who was also a social activist and who earlier had worked for ‘Quomi Jigra’ for the care and upliftment of the old – Malalah started taking part in intra school debates, wrote poems and moreover she would also discuss with her teachers the degenerating plight of social conditions around her.
Her mother used to remain under veil but she wanted her daughter to live in the open air of women liberalisation and individualistic freedom. Her school’s principal felt proud of her matchless characteristic traits and her ideological clarity. Her inclination towards writing poems at the very tender age and also making a thoroughful interpretation of them signalled to her father that she would definitely do something great in her life.
Famous for being a child activist, the dreams of Malalah weren’t so big as she did like her peers wanted to lead a normal life by going to school, playing with her mates, living happy life with her family. Was her thinking like this wrong? But the Talibanis put ban and restraint on her thinking.
She openly declared her creative and progressive hostility against the Talibanis by asserting that, they under the disguise of Islam are misguiding the innocent people of Swat Valley and are, therefore, keeping their children deprived of elementary education so that their bold and brave voice could be suppressed in their tender age.
Malalah openly and challengingly boycotted the orthodox-cum-perilous ideology and irrational beliefs of the Talibanis and wrote undauntingly and boldly and that too without an iota of fear and cowardness. She wrote and made the people of the valley aware and enlightened about their rights and promulgated that to enjoy their each and every human right is their birthright and nobody can keep them devoid of such universal freedom and dignity of human birth. She motivated and sworn her school mates to come to school not taking into consideration the threat of Talibanis.
BBC Urdu needed a small girl who could write a blog meant purely to expose the undemocratic and inhumanely practices of the Taliban. BBC Urdu, had been searchlighting for such a brave girl who has got unflinching courage and mental strength and their hard effort paid dividends in the form of Malalah she started writing under a pseudonym ‘Gul Makai’, a diary in the form of a blog and all the credit goes to his father who instead of getting afraid and self-centered, as most parents would be, willfully allowed her daughter to do such national and heroic task.
Her writing was crystal clear, full of courage, deep insightfulness and an keen perception to understand the prevailing conditions of the suffering school going girls.
Clarity of thoughts, undimmed passion towards writing, and great reservoir of courage is needed to perceive the grim reality of one’s surroundings but in Malalah all these qualities were present genetically and she was confident and outspoken by birth.
The reality was that the indomitable and unflinching mettle through which she used to write the diary for the BBC Urdu service had become a big social and political hurdle for the dogmatic and traditional hegemony of the Taliban. She wrote diary for the BBC Urdu anonymously and challenged Talibani’s Shariyat Law.
Not only the Talibanis but also the people of Swat were thinking that the girl named Gul Makai who had been writing a diary for the BBC Urdu service would be a mature woman but when the reality dawned on them that it was none other than their own 11 year old Malalah their surprise and happiness knew no bounds.
Taliban got frowned and bellicose when they came to know about the ascending and snowballing popularity of Malalah, who had challenged them in their self-presumed kingdom. They became infurious and anxious and were panting hard to know who in reality Malalah was. It was only after the military operation got finalised after pushing back and chasing out the entire Taalibanis from Swat Valley that the Talibanis came to know about her.
(To be continued)