Like Malala, Pakistanis will reject those who challenge its vision: Lodhi

UNITED NATIONS: Pakistan’s Ambassador to the United Nations (UN) Maleeha Lodhi has said that the Pakistani people, by their courage and resilience, have beaten back and prevailed over the dark forces of intolerance, which seek to impose their views through violence.

She was speaking at a reception hosted by Pakistan’s Mission to the UN honouring Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai before the UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appointed her a UN Messenger of Peace to promote girls’ education.

At 19, Malala is the youngest Messenger of Peace, the highest honour given by the UN for an initial period of two years. She was also the youngest person to win the Nobel peace prize in 2014 when she was 17.

“Just like Malala, our people will always reject those who will challenge the vision of Pakistan set out by our founding fathers; of a modern, tolerant and progressive Muslim country,” said Ambassador Lodhi.

The reception followed an impressive ceremony in New York during which Malala accepted the accolade. In her remarks, Malala made an impassioned plea for girls’ education in Pakistan and beyond.

“I am here to represent my country, Pakistan,” said the Pakistani education activist while receiving the award.

Terming herself a “proud Pakistani and Muslim”, Malala said she was obliged to raise her voice against the misrepresentation and mistaken perception of her country and her faith.

“There is still a lot more to be done in providing education to girls in Pakistan as indeed in many other countries as well”, she added.

Addressing ambassadors, diplomats and top UN officials on this occasion, Malala expressed hope that they would be staunch advocates of human rights and education.

Praising Malala, Ambassador Lodhi said she was an inspiration for the young generation across the world and, in her new role, she would continue to be a role model.

The Pakistani envoy also highlighted Malala’s role in promoting girls’ education.

“She took that bullet as a symbol of the absolutely non-negotiable and urgent need to make education an innate part of growing up for every girl, in every place and at all times”, Lodhi remarked.

According to her, girls’ education should be a priority. “None of us, after all, can move forward if half of us are held back,” added the ambassador.

The Pakistani education activist also lauded Maleeha Lodhi as a role model for women globally and in Pakistan.

Malala came to prominence when a Taliban gunman shot her in the head in 2012 in Swat for her campaign against their efforts to deny women education. She now lives in Britain, where she received medical treatment after she was shot.

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