PESHAWAR / SWABI / MINGORA:
The parallels drawn between Malala of Mingora and Malalai of Maiwand are becoming commonplace. For the Pukhtuns of the region, they are as proud of the 17-year old Nobel laureate as they were of the national folk hero of Afghanistan who rallied Pashtun fighters against British troops in the late 19th Century.
A spirit of celebration was witnessed in Malala Yousafzai’s hometown of Mingora on Saturday after she became the youngest recipient of the coveted Nobel Peace Prize.
Political parties and civil society members organised a function to celebrate the accolade. After the function, they marched toward Swat Press Club where they shouted slogans in favour of promoting peace and education in the province.
Speaking on the occasion, Bacha Khan Foundation’s Managing Director Khadim Hussain paid rich tributes to Malala’s contribution to her province and country.
“Today, the dream of every Pukhtun has come true. Malala has given the nation an opportunity to move towards peace and prosperity,” Hussain said. “Pakistan is fortunate to have a daughter like Malala. Now it is the nation’s responsibility to accept her with love and respect,” he added.
The prize serves as a beacon of hope. According to Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) worker Sajjad Khan, it has diverted attention from the wave of militancy which has plagued the province.
“Since 2007, we have witnessed in the province the story of bloodshed and fear. Every other day we hear about target killings and bomb blasts. The news of Malala winning the coveted prize offers something new and exciting and gives us a reason to rejoice,” he said.
Innovative Youth Forum Chairman Dr Jawad Iqbal termed Malala as “the true daughter of Pukhtun soil”. At the tender age of 17, she has brought global recognition for her country—a feat nobody else has been able to achieve, he added. According to Dr Iqbal, Malala has raised the heads of the Pakistani people with pride by making history.
Elders of the area also addressed the function and lauded Malala’s efforts to resist the barbaric actions of militants at a time when no one was willing to voice their objections.
“When the extremists were cutting throats, beheading innocent people and imposing bans on education, she was the only one to raise her voice by publicly announcing that she would continue her education,” Zahid Khan, a member of the Global Peace Council, said.
Leaders from the Awami National Party (ANP) and Pukhtoonkhwa Milli Awami Party (PkMAP) also spoke at the event. They appealed to Malala to continue her efforts to promote education for girls in Swat Valley.
Lawyers rejoice in Swabi
Lawyers held a ceremony to celebrate Malala’s Nobel Peace Prize win at Bar Room Chota Lahor in Swabi on Saturday. The event was attended by a large number of lawyers.
Participants termed Malala as a living example of peace and courage for the entire world. They said people like Malala are born in centuries and likened her to Malalai of Maiwand, a national folk hero of Afghanistan who mobilised local Pukhtuns against the British in the Battle of Maiwand in 1880.
South Asia Free Media Association (Safma)’s Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) chapter has urged the government to commemorate Malala Yousafzai’s Nobel Peace Prize by declaring October 10 a national holiday.
According to joint statement issued by Safma’s vice president in K-P Ziaul Haq and general secretary Farzana Ali, the holiday should be observed on an annual basis and celebrated with fanfare across the province.
The statement congratulated Malala on winning the Nobel Peace Prize and bringing an honour for Pakistan. Safma officials termed Malala’s win as welcome proof of the international community’s acceptance that Pakistan does not want to encourage militancy on its soil.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 12th, 2014.