Without going into details or belittling the contributions of other nominees who are considered for Nobel Peace Prize of 2013, let me explain why will I vote, if I have to, for this sixteen years old girl from a village of Swat in Pakistan. I have at least three major reasons to support her case.
She is a witness to rule of darkness in Swat under Taliban. But unlike the culture of Pakistan where witnesses never come forward to say what they have seen, she spoke with her powerful voice. She described what she had been through and through diaries of “Gul Makai” world could discover the mayhem of Swat and how it had jolted minds of young girls like Malala. She represented not only girls but also everybody else, young and old. These were the speechless people who could not utter a word, due to fear or coercion or in the name of pragmatism, about dark days of Swat under brief and partial control of Taliban. But her voice was not liked by the Taliban. It did not fall sweet on the ears of covert Taliban who are not fighting actively against the state but they are harbingers of conservative and medieval life style and who are against the education of girls and women rights. They move in the country without any fear and you may find them around you, easily. She exercised her right to speech against tyranny in an environment where silence was only way to survive and this is my first reason to support her case.
My second reason to vote for her in Nobel Committee, if I ever had a chance, is her message. She did not speak against the persons. She didn’t accuse the individuals or their supporters. She took a problem solving approach and suggested that it is only light of Education which can answer the darkness of ignorance spread by the Taliban. She vouched for education of girls in particular and it was taking a stance directly opposite to Taliban who were blowing the schools and forcing the girls to stay at home rather than getting education. To the outside world, for the first time she provided a counter narrative to propaganda of Taliban. Before that the Taliban were propagating that they are very good in maintaining law and order and there was peace in Afghanistan under their rule before 9/11. But Malala was on the spot to mention that this strict implementation of “ law and order” will be coming at the cost of education and women’s rights. Just imagine if half of the country’s population is forced to be locked into houses and deprived from education then is it a good deal? Is it the way of development in the rest of the world? Is there any other state in the world in recent times or even before which reached to the zenith of civilization by adopting the Taliban’s anti education methodology? My learned opponents may find some answers, and they will, but at least I m not aware. Malala’s message of education exposed the Taliban and their love for ignorance and anti-women policies.
My third reason to stand behind Malala, and I’m proud of it, is her courage and perseverance. Being a Pakistani, she knows that we are a nation who likes only dead heroes. We do not honor our teachers as our best people just join civil and armed services. We do not honor our artisans and artists and appeals for helping Mehdi Hasans and Reshmans are often printed on the back pages of newspapers. We only come to know about the burial of the lady who took care of Quaid I Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. We never bother to know what she has been through all her life in Pakistan. We do not honor our heritage and we certainly don’t mind if manuscripts of Mirza Ghalib lie in the basements of civil secretariats. We are also a nation, which likes others to watch our interests. In the middle of this environment, she continued her education like your and my daughter and tried to live as peacefully as she could. But Taliban were after her. Their deadly attack didn’t deter her. She survived this attack and this personal trauma gave her an impetus to her drive. She reiterated her message more aggressively but peacefully. She spoke for non-violence. She embodied tolerance. This courage of hers and perseverance against all odds, baseless criticism and propaganda makes her case strongest in my eyes.
And then we have seen since last few months, she is all over in the media and in every major event because all over the world her contribution for peace in Pakistan is acknowledged. Awards are lining up to fall in her lap. People in UNO were queuing up to shake hand with her because she is symbol of hope in Pakistan.
By the time you will be reading these lines, Malala would have won the First Nobel Peace prize for Pakistan or otherwise. After Dr. Abdul Salam who was awarded this honor for his work in Physics, she will be only second Pakistani and first Child, as she is not eighteen yet, who succeeded to impress the Nobel Committee. But I also think, it will also enhance the prestige and credibility of Nobel Peace Prize if Malala receives it!