DESPITE joining the Twittersphere in 2012, Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai posted her first tweet just last Friday.
Perhaps, she herself had not envisaged that the simple two-word post – “Hi, Twitter”– would startle twitteratis as much as it did, raking in 350,000 followers in less than half a day.
Within a couple of hours, Malala received warm welcomes and congratulations from global leaders. Canadian president Justin Trudeau appreciated her “bravery and commitment to education” whereas UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres admired her “unique dedication and inspiration”.
Your bravery and commitment to education – both yours & others – is inspiring. Congratulations on graduating high school @Malala!
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) July 7, 2017
— António Guterres (@antonioguterres) July 7, 2017
Even Bill Gates thanked Malala for inspiring him, while Twitter waved a “Hi” to welcome her officially.
— Bill Gates (@BillGates) July 7, 2017
— Twitter (@Twitter) July 7, 2017
And then on Wednesday this week, Stacey Boyd, founder and CEO of Olivela, an e-retailing business platform, labelled July 12 “Malala Day” to celebrate the young Pakistani activist’s 20th birthday.
But does she really deserve such extraordinary fame, admiration and fete? Not really!
I still remember the frosty morning of Oct 10, 2012, when our school, like other schools across Pakistan, was in mourning. That morning, hundreds of students, including me, routinely gathered in lines for assembly. Soon after singing the national anthem, we extended our hands and with our bodies trembling from the biting Quetta cold, we recited a short verse from the Quran and prayed for Malala’s recovery.
Indeed, that day, millions of others of all ethnicity, race and religion in Pakistan and across the world were praying for Malala’s speedy recovery too.
But subsequently, Malala’s overnight success and fame, and claims made later that the attack on her was merely “drama” and was “scripted way before the incident”, changed her in my eyes.
How does a person survive a bullet shot from close quarters to the head by a well-trained member of the Taliban? I mean, considering such circumstances and her survival, Malala’s case should have been dubbed a modern medical miracle.
You may label me a misogynist, cynic or bigoted, albeit I am not.
In my opinion, there are dozens of others in Pakistan who deserve the Nobel Prize more than Malala Yousafzai. Abdul Sattar Edhi, who founded the Edhi Foundation, is a Pakistani philanthropist who dedicated his whole life to ascetic and humanitarian causes. He saved the lives of at least 50,000 babies, and started a chain of 1,800 ambulances all over Pakistan with 28 rescue boats and two airplanes, prioritising the needs of all mankind above those of specific race, colour or creed.
Undoubtedly (and shamefully), most people still don’t know of Edhi.
Aitzaz Hassan is another example. On Jan 6, 2014, he and his fellow students stopped a suicide bomber outside the school. Despite the pleas of his friends who ran inside, Aitzaz, without a second thought, decided to fearlessly embrace the bomber who then detonated his vest. He could have run off and saved himself but instead, chose to sacrifice his life to save 2,000 others, an act of courage that to me is far more noble than escaping terror and enjoying comfort, seminars, international travels, and awards.
And there are many, many others out there like Abdul Sattar Edhi and Aitzaz Hassan.
How I wish that at least half, just half, of all that attention, fame and admiration that Malala receives is channeled towards these worthy individuals.
But, unfortunately, that wish will perdure only a wish.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not reflect the views of Asian Correspondent