Yes, Malala is more important than the average citizen

Published: October 18, 2012
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She earned the right to respect and a nation over outrage for her shooting. PHOTO: AFP

A death of a leader is always grieved more than the death of a worker. Likewise, the life of a national hero is celebrated more than the life of an ordinary citizen. This is a universal law – a trait common to all cultures.

The battle of Badr in 624AD, the most decisive battle in Islamic history, was fought and won by 314 Muslim fighters including Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself. The Holy Prophet (pbuh) went on creating an Islamic empire, and became the most eternal personality of Islam.

Yet we don’t know much, or anything, about the remaining 313 fighters, apart from the eight associates who were close to the Holy Prophet’s (pbuh). It’s not that we’ve forgotten their contribution. We’re thankful for their sacrifices, but we, like humanity at large, honour leaders for the success achieved due to the efforts of many.

In the West, the funeral of Pope John Paul II in 2005 was attended by approximately three million people, one of the largest congregations ever in Europe. However, a death of one of Vatican’s current 3000 workers may never inspire such large crowds.

Why?

Because people celebrate the lives and grief most on the death of their leaders, while a silent gratitude is paid to all involved.

In Pakistan, the death of the then president general Ziaul Haq, the military dictator widely blamed for the judicial murder of an elected prime minister, gathered one million people for his funeral. After his death, according to the most modest counts, more than 15 books were written on his life and regime.

On the other hand, Pakistan has lost almost 40,000 civilians and soldiers in the war against terror. How many of these 40,000 deaths attracted a large funeral procession akin to that of Zia?

None.

That’s not to say that Pakistanis don’t care about these deaths ─ almost every Pakistani that I’ve met in the last decade regrets the loss of their compatriots. Yet fame and grief, in the shape of a million funeral attendees, is only reserved for those in the front.

Malala is no ordinary Pakistani citizen. She displayed an elegance and grace beyond her years. She is a revolutionary that stood up against the terror of the Taliban even when the Pakistan Army was not willing to act against them.

Last year, in an interview with CNN’s Reza Sayah, Malala answered a few questions posed by the correspondent:

Reza:

Why do you risk your life to raise your voice?

Malala:

Because, I thought that my people need me, and I shall raise my voice because if I didn’t raise my voice now, so when will I raise my voice?

Reza:

Some people might say you’re 14, you don’t have any rights. You just listen to mom and dad.

Malala:

No, I have rights; I’ve the right of education, I’ve the right to play, I’ve the right to sing, I’ve the right to talk, I’ve the right to market. I’ve the right to speak up.

Reza:

What if you give that advice to a girl who may not be as courageous as you and she says ‘Malala, I’m afraid, I just want to stay in my room.’

Malala:

I’ll tell her that don’t stay in your room because God will ask you on the day of judgement, where were you when your people were asking you, when your school fellows were asking you, and when your school was asking you that I’m being blown up. When your people need you, you should come up, you should come and stand up for their rights.

So by challenging the mighty, and standing up for the rights of her people, by being a doer and not just a talker, Malala earned her own rights. She earned the right to respect and a nation over outrage for her shooting. Had she not done this, no one would have ever known that she existed, let alone attracting so much domestic and international grief.

That’s what makes her different from the innocent civilians killed in drone strikes, or from the dozens killed in Karachi every day.

While our heads bow down in silence over the thousands of innocent lives lost at the hands of militants, and predator drones, Malala will always be remembered and treated as a national hero.

Follow Azhar on Twitter @Ali_AzharFateh

Azhar Fateh

Azhar Fateh

An intern at NBC News, and Voice of America Network TV in New York. He tweets @Ali_AzharFateh

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • S

    A voice of sanity atlast !

    Recommend

  • muzammilkhan

    malala cannot be compared with the exmples you have mentioned…..she didnt went against the odds…did she went to school when all of her other classmates were banned to go to school???well,she wrote blogs in a paper which didnt came to the notice even of ordinary pakistani citizens…what to talk about taliban.she would have done wonder if she had wrote against taliban in local paper….this episode made people to forget about pti waziristan march against drones…it adovcated for the u.s strikes against taliban in the foreign media and the u.s itself..Recommend

  • Parvez

    You have said something and said it well and it needs repeating because Malala is special.Recommend

  • abhi

    I have rights; I’ve the right of education, I’ve the right to play, I’ve the right to sing, I’ve the right to talk, I’ve the right to market. I’ve the right to speak up

    in the list of rights there is a mysterious right to sing? Isn’t it a sin?Recommend

  • She

    Since when writing a long became a daring act and you think she think up for people rights?Recommend

  • Sab33N

    @abhi:
    Please can you Indian’s just keep your comments to yourselves for a change. On such a serious topic, that is all you can pick out to comment? Shame on you for making a mockery of a tragic situation. But then again, Indians are quite good in that arn’t they?Recommend

  • shuja ul islam

    U just said it like it really is…Respect the courage of the 14 year old kid..she is better than us..RESPECT..!!Recommend

  • Insaan

    Author “Malala …. stood up against the terror of the Taliban even when the Pakistan Army was not willing to act against them.”

    Poor girl did not know what talibans were capable of doing to her. Pakistan Army wants to use talibans as non-State actors to control Afghanistan (strategic depth) or hit NATO/US forces.Recommend

  • masood

    @muzammilkhan: Common man, she is just 14 and she started her activism when she was 11. At 11 I am sure you didn’t even know how to walk and talk lets alone speak up against the taliban so the millions of people around the world are stupid and arrogant who are crying and praying for this little brave girl.
    Just shut up and praise your heros (talibans)Recommend

  • http://lndia.com ijaz

    good…………………..Recommend

  • asami

    There are not many 14 year old girls out there who have even half the enlightened mindset of Malala. This is the age where most girls are busy bickering over middle school drama and dealing with popularity issues. Malala is way beyond her years and for her age this IS a daring and gallant act. I sympathize and feel for all those victims of the drone attacks that keeps being brought up, but there is no need to undermine the limelight Malala is under. She deserves more recognition than she is getting. Do people fail to realize that is just a 14 year old kid attacked gruesomely by the Taliban? She is better than a lot of us and adults twice her age. I wish her the best and a speedy recovery.Recommend

  • omaidus

    Reza:

    What if you give that advice to a girl who may not be as courageous as you and she says ‘Malala, I’m afraid, I just want to stay in my room.’

    Malala:

    I’ll tell her that don’t stay in your room because God will ask you on the day of judgement, where were you when your people were asking you, when your school fellows were asking you, and when your school was asking you that I’m being blown up. When your people need you, you should come up, you should come and stand up for their rights.

    Really can’t believe she just said this, salutes for her. what a brave and courageous girl….Recommend

  • http://Www.google.com Saeed swabi

    We as a nation can never get progress in this world of modernity until we sweep out the oddity and those reactionary mullahs wo d0nt kn0w where the world is going to (by liberal mind) or on the other hand we will have to eradicate the girls and revolutionaries like malala out of our nation,we are in dual-path policy,not kn0wing where we have to go.
    Secularism and theology cant go side by side.
    We need to smash out the ideology of pakistan if we want to go the way the world is going.Recommend

  • Zalim Singh

    agreeRecommend

  • Raza

    What a wonderful girl, an absolute inspiration. And to all those trying to downplay what she had done, please, you didn’t have half her guts when you were 11 (when she started activism) Recommend

  • Insaan

    Watch this video about Malala. See how talibans justify this attack under Islamic laws.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eu8NyLeMCbcRecommend

  • Trojan

    Pakistan doesn’t deserve Malala. They are happy with the likes of AafiaRecommend

  • http://tribune surtee

    @muzammilkhan:

    what PTI did was a political gimmik. not worth remembering but what Malala is doing or did is something worth written in gold and be included in our history. May Allah bless her.
    Recommend

  • Socko

    Pakistanis keep ranting about how they just require a genuine and honest leader who can stand up and speak for the people of pakistan. On the other hand, wehn they get a genuine leader, named Malala, for Women’s Education in Pakistan, people of this country write her off saying she is an American Agent and Mossad Agent… Or somehow drag Indian Intelligence in all this… Malala was lot more Honest, lot more sincere, lot more courageous, than any other citiizen of Pakistan, … I would even go to say that, she is more courageous than even Imran Khan, IK did not stand for Truth and did not leave any opportunity to side with with Taliban saying they are misguided people and not evil. All this just for the sake of Vote and Hunger for Power. Malala is different… She is not selfish. She stood up against against all odds. She stood up regardless of all the threats to her life. She submitted herself and her life for the service of Truth & Justice to every girl child in Pakistan. And still, the pakistanis call her as part of the conspiracy by the west… Shame on all Pakistanis, who are the most cowardly
    … Shame on all those people who act as a silent majority, just because they are afraid of losing their lives, and dont bother if their homeland is being snatched by evil taliban in front of their eyes… Then they will start ranting, the world was involved in conspiracy to destroy pakistan… Recommend

  • Karachiite

    Yes Malala was different.. who say we are against her or we dont acknowledge her bravery.. the only worth highlighting point is.. if a girl from Balochistan had written any article to BBC informing about all the destructions that Drones attack are causing, 1) Would that article be given any ear? 2) if that girl was injured in anyother drone attack would anybody repent over her death?.. question is not on Malala.. she was a brilliant and brave girl.. no doubt!!.. only the dual face of world is in question!!.. Recommend

  • Hasan

    Those who are putting up the non-sense of placing every unfortunate Kainat, Shaista, Wahida, Amanda, Kitana, X, Y, Z girl next to Malala, and demanding an equal magnitude of reaction from the world are fellows who are either naïve or malevolent. Naïve, such that they do not understand that the world respect and mourn only those who courageously embrace all the challenges, however colossal they may
    be, and remain steadfast in contributing positively to the society. And malevolent, such that they are resorting to cheap and pitiable tactics hoping that people may withdraw or divert their attention to conspiracies and other bullshit.

    The respect that the world is endowing upon Malala has got little to do with her physical existence and more with the ideas and the values she stood for. It is the respect for being the diminutive ray of hope in a society which is going insane at an insanely fast pace. We do feel sorry for other X Y Z girls but they do not stand near Malala in terms of vision, courage, nobility, and perseverance of sanity in our society and the wider world.Recommend