The youngest ever Nobel prize recipient: the unseen and unnoticed like Malala

By Muhammad Mian
mianmu@mnstate.edu

Malala Yousafzai, a proud Pakistani, got her Nobel Peace Prize “for her struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education” media reported this October.
Here is a name that has almost 38 other national and international nominations, awards and honors. The story of Malala began when she was a child who not only struggled to get good grades and perform well in academics, but also struggled simply to get to the classroom. It was a time when the region of Swat was held with extreme power by Taliban militants, before our army arrived there. The Taliban prohibited educating women throughout the mountainous area. No girl could go to school or step outside her home without meeting criterions and dress codes.
Let  me make this clear; this act by militants did not have any support from religious teachings, scholars or any other cultural or domestic phenomenon.
Imagine the intense degree of courage, determination and willpower required to take a step against a group who has been known in the world not as robbers or street criminals, but as a group who is fighting against the world nations. Of course she paid the price and was attacked, but fortunately survived.
Yes, I am inspired by her. She took that step, and that is the action that made her a superwoman, not only for our nation, but on an international scale. Her work has been recognized and appreciated all over the world, and hers has become a well-known name nowadays.
I wrote this article to not only praise Malala, but also to introduce a few other people who are very famous in Pakistan but unfortunately could not get the attention of international media. There are many other famous individuals of Malala’s age like Aitazaz Hassan Bangash, who died in a struggle to save his school fellows.
“A 14-year-old boy is being hailed as a hero in Pakistan for tackling a suicide bomber — dying at the main gate of his school and saving schoolmates gathered for their morning assembly,” reported CNN.
Bangash’s father said, “My son made his mother cry, but saved hundreds of mothers from crying for their children.”
This boy got attention of many, yet few were praising him more than Malala for his sacrifice.
Our nation has a great deal of talent in all aspects of life and in all ages of citizens, but I am just focusing on very young ones that got their distinction due to outstanding performance or sacrifice for education.
Arfa Karim Randhwa (Feb. 2, 1995 – Jan. 14, 2012) was a Pakistani student and computer prodigy who, in 2004 at the age of nine, became the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP). She kept the title until 2008.
Arfa represented Pakistan on various international forums including the TechEd Developers Conference. She also received the President’s Award for Pride of Performance. A science park in Lahore, the Arfa Software Technology Park, was named after her. She was invited by Bill Gates to visit Microsoft Headquarters in the U.S.
Arfa Karim started a trend; now kids want to become like her. We regularly come to know about them through news channels; she has become a role model for Pakistani kids.
Babar Iqbal (born March 3, 1997) is a young IT  genius who started computer programming in early childhood. He came to prominence by becoming the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) in the world at the age of nine, as well as obtaining the record of being the youngest CIWA at nine, youngest CWNA at 10, youngest Microsoft Student Partner(MSP) at 11 and youngest MCTS in .NET 3.5 at 12, after Arfa Karim Randhawa.
Nowadays, Pakistani kids are competing against each other to get such a name. Shafay Thobani and Mehroz Yawar also got famous from same field and achievements. As Syedain siblings, the three kids achieved the same excellence and sponsorship for their entire education throughout their lives through the Pakistan government.
It has been tradition to honor such success-holders in Pakistan. Our government is still not tired of giving  prestigious recognitions, awards or rewards for efforts to kids who get world recognized achievements.
Pakistan’s government has also worked to improve the entire educational structure, though we have not gotten enough success in implementing the strategies. One step towards a literate Pakistan is the government starting to waive tuition fees for any Masters-level degree. Students also have an opportunity to get a free laptop provided from the government to ease their way. Our government has many youth vocational training programs to develop skilled labor. A few of them get small business loans  and fee reimbursements.
Education has been the base for any nation to progress; developed countries have done wonders just because of the quality and excellence of their institutions. As a patriot predictor, I see Pakistan as a developed and progressed country in the future which will improve living standards, infrastructure and other various fields of life. Looking at the above few names, in the future we will be known for the achievements of our youth as the new generation have all been given tools to better present Pakistan.

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