It has been a little over a week since a 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl who dared to speak out through her blog against the Taliban for their opposition to girls education took a bullet to her head. Today, Malala Yousufzai is being treated in Birmingham, England, but anger continues to simmer in Pakistan and beyond.
While the common people of Pakistan have staged rallies against the Taliban, the government is making all the right noises. Reports say there is a bounty of Rs 5 crore for the Taliban spokesperson who claimed responsibility for the attack, and Malala is to be conferred with the highest civilian honour. All this though is a case of too little, too late from the Pakistan government.
The government should have protected Yousufzai, knowing the vitriol and violence the Taliban is capable of. Even now, the Taliban has promised to kill her if she survives her injuries. These recognitions of bravery are token acts, as the government once again finds itself in the global eye as a vortex of terror. Now, if Yousufzai survives and returns to Pakistan, the government will have to do its utmost to see that the Taliban cannot make good its threat, to prove to the people it still has some teeth.
Meanwhile, Malala’s plight strikes a universal note as she has become symbolic of those across the globe who dare to take on oppression and injustice. Many suffer like Malala has, maybe, in different ways but they do pay for taking on an enemy — it could be anybody from a corporation, to the government, to the system. They are Malalas in their own way, fighting their own Taliban and taking (sometimes) literal and metaphorical bullets for their courage.
Unfortunately, for all those brave speeches about Malala’s spirit and how she is an inspiration, the point is that intimidation works. This incident may have certainly silenced others who wanted to speak out. So, it is vital that the Pak government protects her now. That would be small redemption for past failures.