The proud father of a Nobel laureate, Ziauddin Yousafzai, dreams of the day when Malala Yousafzai is able travel to Islamabad alone – without a male escort – and believes that the role of a school peon is better than a powerless Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Yousafzai, 46, told Hindustan Times that he was aware of his daughter’s ambition of becoming Pakistan’s Prime Minister, which he said would be “good” if one could make a difference in the ground situation in the country.
“But you become a Prime Minister and then you are helpless. It is better to be a peon in a school and just serve children with water. That is a good job. Better to be a school peon than a powerless Prime Minister”, he said.
Involved in left-wing politics in the Swat Valley, Yousafzai said he was happy to see his daughter become “more and more” independent. He named her Malala after the Pashtun folk hero Malalai of Maiwind, who – unlike most women in the area – had an identity of her own.
“My relationship with her right from the beginning is not based on typical patriarchal fatherhood, where you think your daughter is your so-called honour and that she should be controlled. She must be known not as someone’s daughter or brother or wife, but as Malala on her own”, he said.
Now based in Birmingham, Yousafzai’s close relationship with Malala is evident in the documentary, ‘He Named Me Malala’, due for release in india on November 6.
He said his teacher in the Swat Valley taught him the ideas of ‘jihad’ during the Soviet occupation of neighbouring Afghanistan, but he was “impressed” by left-wing policies of the National Party which, he said, “brought a balance in me”.
“I dream of peace, prosperity and education in Pakistan, but the future will be determined by ground realities, by the policies of India and Pakistan. Establishments of both countries should be courageous to come out of the past. The world is changing”, he said.
He added: “Sometimes I am disappointed with what is happening in Pakistan and India. We should be very clear about militancy and terrorism. We should stop using it against each other. We should be very clear that ultimately it will harm both countries”.