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Malala College Infuriates Swatis

Published: 13/12/2012 09:18:18 PM GMT
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SWAT - Government plans to name a college in Pakistan's tourist valley of Swat after Malala Yousafzai, who emerged as a symbol of girls struggle for education after being shot by Taliban militants last month, is facing a grow (more)

SWAT - Government plans to name a college in Pakistan's tourist valley of Swat after Malala Yousafzai, who emerged as a symbol of girls struggle for education after being shot by Taliban militants last month, is facing a growing opposition from students.

“We will not allow the government to change the name of our college for a girl who ridicules Pardah (veil) and beard,” Salma Yousafzai, a student of Government Degree College Sedo Sharif, the second largest town of Swat valley,, told

“We have given a three-day ultimatum to the administration to reverse its decision, otherwise, we will accelerate our protest.”

Malala stole international attention last month after she was shot by Taliban militants over her campaign to encourage more girls to go to schools in Pakistan.

Following the attack, the Pakistani government decided to name the Sedo Baba college after Malala.

But the plans angered the college students, who torn off Malala's portrait displayed at the college entrance.

A plaque inscribed with the new name “Government Malala Yousafzai Degree College” was removed by the college administration over the protests.

Protesting students say they want to keep the college named after Sedo Baba, a spiritual leader who preached Islam in the area centuries ago.

“Sedo Baba is respectable to all of us (Swatis), while Malala is a controversial figure,” Salma said, referring to some controversial scripts from the diaries of Malala, which she reportedly wrote for the BBC in 2008 and 2009 with a pen name of Gul Makai (corn flower).

In her diaries, Malala, who was only 10, not only criticized the policies of outlawed Tehrik Nifaz-e-Shari'ah Mohammadi (TNSM), over banning girls' education, also wrote some controversial remarks about veil and beard.

One of her diaries contained a statement “When I saw a bearded man following me, it reminded me the Pharaoh (of Egypt).

She also reported wrote that “Veil reminds me of Stone Age”.

But local journalists doubt that the diaries were not written by Malala herself.

They argue that the dairies were written by her father Ziauddin Yousafzai,  principal of his own school in Mingora, the capital of Swat, who in collaboration with the then BBC Urdu service reporter in Peshawar, wrote the diaries in the name of his daughter.

The diaries were written in excellent Urdu with perfect grammar. The usage of fine vocabulary and historical references cannot be the work of a ten-year old girl, the critics observe.


Protesting students are also angry at the projection of Malala as a symbol of girls' education in Pakistan.

“Malala has nothing to do with girls' education,” Subohi Khan, a protesting student, told

“If we keep attack on her aside for a moment, what else she has done for the cause of education.

“Her projection is just on the basis of her so-called diaries which she wrote for BBC. Everyone here knows, these diaries were written by his father, who belongs to left-wing Awami national Party (ANP),” she said.

“He (Ziauddin) could not say anything openly against Taliban, and used shoulder of his daughter, which is considered very bad in Pashtun society.”

Khan reiterated condemnation of the Taliban attack on Malala.

“But it should not be associated with girls' education and must not be used to malign Islamic values,” she said.

“She was not attacked because she was working for girls' education, but because of those diaries which her father wrote and used her name to condemn Taliban.

“Pardah (veil) is the command of Allah for Muslim women in the Qur'an. It is not the order of so-called Taliban or any other militant group. Therefore, whoever ridicules the commands of Allah just to appease the West or get some dollars, we have nothing to do with him or her.”

Gulmina is also protesting against re-naming her college but for a different reason.

“Naming the college after Malala would be a security threat for us as those who have attacked Malala might attack us too,” she said, adding that Taliban are already infuriated and are looking for soft targets, ”which could be our college”.


But the college administration appears to be undaunted by the student protests.

“Malala has become an international celebrity and symbol of girls' education,” Kamran Rehman, the district coordination officer (DCO), told journalists.

“Naming the degree college after her should be considered an honor rather than something else.”

He said the administration has ordered an inquiry into the incident to ascertain the “actual reasons” behind the protest.

Local sources told that the administration has threatened parents of many protesting students that if their daughters take part in protest again, they will not only be expelled from the college, but legal action can also be initiated against them on the charge of taking law in their hands.

The DCO, however, considered the point of the security threat, saying the army and police have taken all possible measures to deter any threats.

Swat, known as Switzerland of Pakistan because of breath-taking scenes and snow-capped peaks, is the epicenter of fights between army and hardline TNSM militants, who were pushed towards northeastern Afghanistan.

The TNSM militants have established new basis in Kunar and Khost provinces of Afghanistan, from where they have been attacking Pakistani security forces.

Hundreds of schools have been bombed in Swat and northern tribal belt during last ten years.Security forces blame militants for the bombing of schools, while Taliban claim that these schools were being used as camps by the army.

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