Malala Day meets with befitting expression of love
By Tariq Farid
LAHORE: “Malala! We are with you... We love you... We salute you... Nation is proud of you... We are Malala... We support you to accomplish your mission... Long live Malala!”
“Malala is not simply a 14-year-old girl. She is a thought, which has stirred the whole society... She is a symbol of enlightenment... the beacon of hope... for us and our future generations... for peaceful life and equal rights for girls to education.”
Echoes of these words were heard everywhere in the city on Saturday while the residents marked the Malala Day, declared by the United Nations in the honour of young rights activist, Malala Yousufzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban last month for campaigning for girls’ education.
Human rights organizations and educational institutions organized special ceremonies and rallies to pay tribute to the courageous young girl from Sawat, who braved the guns and savagery of religious fanatics and declared: “Even if they kill me, I will first say to them: what you are doing is wrong.”
The South Asian Women in Media (SAWM) organised a seminar titled “Malala for Education Day”. It was held in collaboration with the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) at a local hotel. A large number of schoolchildren from various schools, educationists, rights activists and parliamentarians participated in the event.
Speakers at the seminar said that those who had attacked Malala must be brought to book and those who were trying to cover up or justify the accused terrorists were should be censured through public opinion. Educationist Saleema Hashmi deplored the fact that Pakistan was among the 10 educationally backward countries.
“On this day, we demand the government to increase the education budget and provide equal opportunities to those girls, who are deprived of the right to education,” she said.
Political activist Abid Hassan Minto said that Malala had initiated a movement against ignorance, extremism and terrorism, which should be supported. Justics ® Nasira Iqbal said that those who attacked Malala were not Pakistanis and had no religion.
Schoolchildren at the event expressed their sentiments to the brave girl through their poems and speeches and prayed for her early recovery. Former minister SM Masood, PPP leader Ms Yasmeen, PML-Q leader Amina Ulfat and columnist Munno Bhai, SAWM President Shahpara Saleem and Sadiq Azhar also spoke on the occasion.
In his message on the Malalah Day, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said that Malalah Yousufzai was the daughter of the nation and pride of the country. “She has won laurels for Pakistan all over the world by playing a leading role in such an early age,” he added.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Central Secretary Information Shafqat Mahmood, in a statement, said that the outpouring of sympathy for Malala and abhorrence over the cowardly act demonstrated the determination of the Pakistani society not to allow a handful of radicalized elements to dictate their agenda. The PTI strongly reaffirms UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon’s description of the brave girl as being a “global symbol” of every girl’s right to an education, he added.
Meanwhile, PPP’s Human Rights Wing held a ceremony and called Malala a symbol of courage and bravery, who rejected terrorism and raised the flag of peace. The Malala Peace and Education Committee held a rally in front of the Lahore Press Club to express solidarity with the young peace activist and support her cause. Various schools and colleges also organized special programmes, during which students paid homage to their young fellow and vowed to stand with her to accomplish her mission.