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The Power of Malala

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By Anshul Kumar Pandey:

The attack on Malala Yousafzai shows the cowardice of the self appointed guardians of Islam and the power of the pen in an increasingly connected world.

On Tuesday, the 9th of October, as Malala Yousafzai sat in her school bus in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa area of Pakistan, chatting with her friends and looking forward to returning home, she had no idea that soon she would be lying in a hospital bed battling for her life. The Taliban, which have been vociferously opposed to the education of girls in the Islamic Republic, soon stopped her bus, identified her and shot her in the head. What was the need to identify her? It so happened that it was Malala who had been at the forefront of the campaign opposing the Taliban diktat of prohibiting girls from attending schools. In a country whose politicians and media think twice before writing or speaking anything against the Taliban, Malala Yousafzai, at the tender age of 11, had made her views crystal clear by writing an online diary for the BBC’s Urdu Service, describing the horrors of living under the Taliban. This had made her the principal eyesore for the Taliban.

Many people wonder and applaud the courage of young Malala on taking on the Taliban by their horns. It would not be an exaggeration to say that some of this courage is ingrained in the very existence of everyone living under the diktats of religious fascists, the core difference being the urge to action, a complete refusal to know tow to the nonsensical and completely misogynist orders of power wielders and an unflinching commitment to fight against the greatest of the odds. It is no wonder then, that Malala owes her name to Malala Maiwand, a Pashtun poet and a national folk hero in Afghanistan, who rallied the Pashtun army against the British troops in 1880 in the Battle of Maiwand. Times were bleak then, times are bleaker now.

The question that is swirling in the minds of every Pakistani, nay, every person who loves free speech, equality in education and a right to normal childhood is what will it take to stop this spate of shootings, blasts and suicide bombings that have wrecked normal livelihood in Pakistan? Clearly, the strategy of appeasing the Taliban by bowing down to their every ridiculous order, bending over backwards to fulfil their every demand and maintaining a silence closely resembling stupidity and utter cowardice, hasn’t worked at all. It has only made the mad men to sling their Kalashnikovs or AK-47s with more vigour and has given them the authority, an authority gained by fear and terror, to point their guns in any direction and shoot.

Malala is no ideologue. Neither is she a demagogue capable of pulling crowds numbering in thousands. She is just an ordinary schoolgirl who has dared to scribble question marks on the sheets of the history of a nation which are soaked with blood. It did not take her a reserve of herculean strength to oppose the Taliban. It just took her a simple pen, or a keyboard, to start writing how she felt, what she saw, what she believed in. It was the strength of her belief, the strength of her courage, the strength of her resistance, which shook the high pedestals that the Taliban occupied. For if there is any sworn enemy to the crushing wheels of tyranny, it is the spanner of inquisitiveness.

In pointing fingers to the religious dictatorship of Taleban and the utter mayhem that has engulfed her once beautiful valley, Malala put all the apologists of such events to shame. Even as she lies in her hospital bed battling the now familiar forces of death, the entire world celebrates her courage, her determination and her sheer will to wage a battle. Her name means the one who is grief stricken, and yet, it is the people world over who are grief stricken at this assassination attempt.

It was with acute aptness that the New York Times interpreted this attack:
Malala was advocating the ideology of love. She was a young ambassador of peace. By attacking her, the Taliban attempted to warn all the youngsters not to follow her ideology. But after the attack, Malala’s followers have multiplied across the country. She has won. (source)

In Malala’s victory, lies the self inflicted disgraceful humiliation of the Taliban.
[box bg=”#fdf78c” color=”#000″]About the author: Anshul Kumar Pandey is the Editor at Large at Youth Ki Awaaz. He also blogs at To read his other posts, click here.[/box]

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  1. Anuva Kulkarni

    Great read, and a very brave young woman. Will there emerge others like her, who can change war to peace?

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