The sentiment of Malala’s shot to the head from the Taliban was felt first and foremost by the people in her own country in Pakistan where I have been lucky to spend the past 5 weeks. There was outrage, quietly and poignantly amongst the Pakistani people and not in the way most of western media would portray ‘Pakistani outrage’.
The injustice of it all seemed to go beyond the Taliban being bad, to almost being unreligious to do something to a girl such as Malala and this is coming from a strong and proudly religious country and society. With the few remaining friends the Taliban might have in this country they certainly marginalised that again, significantly.
My feelings from the people here for Malala was that this is not just an attack on a girl but on education which almost every Pakistani, I have met, believes is Pakistans way out of poverty, towards equality and most importantly peace as they are sick of the constant controls and nuisance that conflict creates in their country.
While I can’t directly speak for the Pakistani people I do feel that the Malala incident was almost a line in the sand. The problems they face are numerous but there is a growing sense of optimism and confidence that Pakistan can pick itself up through something like education. What happened to Malala was not to be tolerated.
The Pakistan government also responded quickly announcing free universal education for all and included an announcement to double the spending on education in the coming year and prioritise education for years to come. While these kinds of announcements are taken with a grain of salt with the local people, especially as there is a pending election due in April next year, it does again show that Malala was a bit of a turning point to see education given the priority that is needed and will be supported by the people of Pakistan.
One interesting aspect on Malala’s misfortune was once the international community jumped on the story, as they did very well intentioned, it lost its momentum here in Pakistan quite quickly. The Pakistani people didn’t particularly want the interventions from the outside – even though appreciated but not of real advantage for who they have to deal with who is the Taliban, the source of the atrocity on Malala. I believe Pakistan feels it needs to deal with the Taliban in its own country and influence from the outside I personally think is probably more of a hindrance than a help, but how do we respond if we feel there is an injustice in the world, hopefully not to sit back and let it happen, so I don’t know what the answer is there…
My feelings for being here in Pakistan only for a short time but interacting with many educational institutions is that Pakistan is thirsty for education, literacy, equality, access and opportunity and Malala’s unfortunate horrible incident stirred up something extra in the people and government here to do something about it on two fronts – in prioritising education and dealing with the Taliban (likely through education!).
My two cents worth anyway…
and if you want to see a great perspective from my colleague, Jordan at the Global Poverty Project in the US, see her blog here: http://www.globalcitizen.org/Content/Content.aspx?id=38735c4a-6450-4811-bf46-0d6fdc5405f9&rby=40fb91c9-dbe5-4f6c-b63f-5b2856f1881f