WASHINGTON: “Speaking out after an atrocious act isn’t enough,” says former US First Lady Laura Bush while urging the entire international community to help Malala Yousufzai achieve her goal, education for all women in Pakistan.
“Malala inspires us because she had the courage to defy the totalitarian mindset others would have imposed on her,” she says in an article she wrote for the Washington Post on Malala.
“Her life represents a brighter future for Pakistan and the region.”
Urging the world to act now, she says: “We must speak up before these acts occur, work to ensure that they do not happen again, and keep our courage to continue to resist the ongoing cruelty and barbarism of the Taliban.”
The former US First Lady notes that “Malala Yousufzai refused to look the other way. We owe it to her courage and sacrifice to do the same.”
Malala, she notes, is the same age as another writer, a diarist, who inspired many around the world.
From her hiding place in Amsterdam, Anne Frank wrote, “How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.”
“Today, for Malala and the many girls like her, we need not and cannot wait. We must improve their world,” says Laura Bush.
On Thursday, which is also International Day of the Girl, Forbes magazine published comments from leading international figures on Malala who, like Laura Bush, also reminded the international community that the time to act against the Taliban was now. “Prayers for a child hero who dared to speak out for girls’ education. Now fighting for life as Taliban shot her,” says Mia Farrow, an American actress and humanitarian.
Kirstin Gillibrand, a US Senator from New York notes that “Malala’s activism on behalf of Pakistani women and girls is an inspiration to us all. She truly shows the power of one voice.”
Jemima Khan, a British human rights activist and former wife of Imran Khan says that “Taliban butchers must be condemned by all parties/clerics.”
Pakistani nuclear scientist Dr A.Q. Khan says that “attack on innocent Malala is highly disgraceful and shameful. Imagine the strength of our 15-year old girls who threaten a terrorist army!”
Adil Najam, Vice Chancellor of LUMS, says: “I am Pakistan. I am Malala. I condemn the dastardly attack. I denounce the sick mindset that conceived and executed it.”
Susan Rice, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, says “Pakistan’s future belongs to Malala and brave young girls like her. History will not remember the cowards who tried to kill her at school.”
Susan Davis, a congresswoman from California, says: “Today we are all Malala Yousufzai. What a courageous girl. I pray the Taliban bullet does not stop her activism.”
Christine Milne, an Australian senator, says: “On International Day of the Girl, let’s honour Malala. We need to make sure she gets the best modern medicine can provide. Such courage!”
Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian journalist writes: “Malala, the world’s collective heart cradles you with love and wishes for a speedy recovery, you beautiful brave girl!”
In a lead editorial, The New York Times writes that “if Pakistan has a future, it is embodied in Malala Yousufzai. Yet the Taliban so feared this 14-year-old girl that they tried to assassinate her.
“Her supposed offence? Her want of an education and her public advocation for it.”
The newspaper notes that in recent years, the Taliban destroyed at least 200 schools. “The murderous violence against one girl was committed against the whole of Pakistani society. The Taliban cannot be allowed to win this vicious campaign against girls, learning and tolerance. Otherwise, there is no future for that nation,” says the newspaper.
The Forbes magazine calls Malala “a lesson in courage and moral bravery, and a lesson in how an act of brutality can mobilise people tired of repression and brutality cloaked in religion and culture.”
The magazine notes that although she lies unconscious in a hospital, Malala — named for a mythic Pashtun girl — “is far more powerful than the thuggish man who shot her in a school bus”.