KARACHI, Pakistan – People interviewed here recently expressed sorrow and anger over the Taliban’s assault on 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai last week.
“Honestly I think this is nothing but a cowardly action by the ruthless self-appointed guardians of religion who consider even a [teenage girl] as a threat,” said Fatima Zehra, who is in her final year of studying the social sciences at SZABIST in Karachi.
“I’m really depressed on this incident; we are already suffering from target killings and bombings, but this time, they attacked a girl who was harbinger of hope and change,” said Andeel Ali, a young social entrepreneur based in Karachi.
Yousafzai, who was an outspoken proponent of education for girls in Swat, the area of Pakistan where she lived, was shot in the head on her way home from school on October 9. The Taliban said it targeted her because she spoke up about education.
She was moved Monday to a hospital in the United Kingdom, the BBC reported and is in serious condition.
“Fundamentalists and extremists want to impose their way of Islam and ideology,” said Riaz Shaikh, who heads the Social Sciences Department at SZABIST.
The Taliban, he added, want to eliminate logical, rational debate in society.
“They want to take back everyone to primitive ages. Such actions are affecting us negatively; girls and women are already facing discrimination and the Taliban have already demolished their schools,” Shaikh said. “There is an urgent need to handle this menace with iron hand now, else, they will go out of control.”
Ali and others said Pakistan’sgovernment deserved some of the blame for failing to keep people safe.
“I’m disappointed from my government as they have failed to improve the educational as well as the security situation of our country,” said Ali. “They themselves are secure but their voters and taxpayers are suffering.”
Shahmir Ahsanullah, a young filmmaker from Karachi, put the onus squarely on Islamabad.
“All this is due to the inefficient law and order situation in our country,” Ahsanullah said. “Since last 11 years, not even a single terrorist is given death sentence. The only solution is to activate military courts, otherwise, killings in Pakistan will continue.”
Yousafzai’s actions – standing for the cause of education for girls – are commendable, Zehra said.
“Malala is a courageous girl!” said Zehra. “It’s sad we couldn’t protect her. May she recover soon.”
Waleed Tariq is a Correspondent for Youth Journalism International. Arooj Khalid, who took the photograph, is a Reporter for Youth Journalism International. Both are in Pakistan.