Burke, Virginia — Pakistani business community in the United States is proud of Malala Yousafzai – the youngest-ever Noble prize winner – who has become a symbol of girls’ right to education in the world.
“I stand by this courageous girl who is not afraid even to sacrifice her life for the cause of education for girls in Pakistan,” Mr. M. Siddique Sheikh, Chairman of the Virginia-based Pakistan American Business Association (PABA), said in a statement here. “I salute this young lady.”
The 17-year-old Malala received the 2014 Nobel Peace award she shared with Kailash Satyarthi from India at a ceremony in the Oslo City Hall, Norway. The award, according to citation by the Noble Prize, was awarded to Malala for her “struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”.
Mr. Sheikh expressed the hope that the honor Malala won for the country will encourage the Pakistan government to focus more efforts on education for all, espcially girls. He also said that the government should extend all support to Pakistanis living abroad who are keen to invest in education in Pakistan.
“I have been trying since 2004 to open a university in Pakistan which can have exchange programs with the renowned universities in America, but was unable to do because of non-support from the Pakistan government,” he said. “I had even purchased the land for the proposed university but the project could not go ahead because of the lack of support.”
Paying tributes to Malala, Mr. Sheikh was confident that more people will follow her example and work for the girls’ rights and help promote soft image of Pakistan.
Born in the town of Mingora in Swat in northwest Pakistan, Malala was shot in the head while going to school in a bus in October, 2012. She was attacked for promoting the cause of education for girls. She now lives and studies in England.
“Thank you to my father for not clipping my wings and for letting me fly,” Malala said in her speech at the award ceremony. “This award is not just for me. It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change.”