Malala’s father Yusufzai
with Sevy Ali
A Mumbai NGO which had conferred an honour on Pakistani teenager
Malala Yousafzai managed to recently deliver this to her in
Britian, outsmarting the tight security blanket around her family
The feat was achieved by cracking the wall of security put up by
Pakistani and British personnel to ensure that the award directly
reached Malala, 14, and her family, an organizer said.
Last month, when Mumbai NGO Harmony Foundation selected Malala for
its prestigious "Mother Teresa Memorial Award for Social Justice",
it generated considerable excitement over who would receive the
honour. The award ceremony took place exactly a week after
Pakistani terrorist Ajmal Kasab was hanged Nov 21 for his role in
the 26/11 Mumbai terror attack.
Despite the best efforts of Harmony Foundation president Abraham
Mathai and several top Indian and foreign officials, Malala's
family members were not permitted to come and receive the award,
presented Nov 28 at a glittering ceremony attended by many
It was received on Malala's behalf by Sevy Ali, a Pakistani origin
British filmmaker who is currently involved in a movie production
project in Mumbai. That was the start of an operation that
eventually saw the award being handed over to Malala's father,
Hailing from the Swat region of northwest Pakistan, Malala
catapulted to international fame after she was shot in the head by
the Taliban Oct 9 for speaking out in favour education for girls
and women in her country.
The Pakistan authorities, embarrassed by the outrage over the
spine-chilling attack, promptly placed her immediate family under
a tight security blanket, especially after the Taliban warned of a
They even undertook to bear the full costs of her medical
treatment and shifted her to Britain for specialized treatment at
Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
"The whole world lauded Malala's courage in the face of adversity
and we decided to confer on her an award named after another saint
who enjoyed universal admiration," Mathai told IANS.
He said that Harmony Foundation was determined to present the
award directly to her family - and succeeded in the venture.
"We requested Sevy Ali to help us in this effort and he readily
agreed," Mathai said, adding that since he (Sevy Ali) holds a
British passport, his movements are virtually unhindered in
England, India and Pakistan.
After Ali's nod to carry the award trophy and citation to Britain,
the next challenge was to wean Malala's father briefly out of the
Since any access to Yousafzai was routed through the Pakistani
High Commissioner to Britain and then through several tiers of
security, it was "a near-impossible task" getting him out of the
"Somehow, by-passing all hurdles, I managed to pass the message to
Yousafzai to overcome his security and spare a few minutes for
accepting the award," Mathai winked, but declined to go into
details of how it was made possible.
Accordingly, on Dec 1, the operation was successfully completed.
Yousafzai managed to walk out of his massive security cordon, met
Ali and happily accepted Malala's honour by the Indian NGO.
Mathai praised Ali for "taking all the trouble and going to
Birmingham at short notice only to carry the award, and ensuring
it reached Malala's father."
A visibly moved Yousafzai expressed his gratitude to Mathai and
the Harmony Foundation for the honour. "We would like to thank the
millions of people praying for Malala's speedy recovery and are
expecting a miracle to happen," he said after the award was
delivered to him.
"We would have been happy if the Pakistan government had permitted
Yousafzai to come and receive the award in person. It would have
been a significant step in boosting people-to-people relations
between the two countries," Mathai added.
Malala and Sima Samar of the Afghan Independent Human Rights
Commission were the two international awardees. The Indian
awardees included vetern journalist Kuldip Nayar, supercop Sanjiv
Bhat, rights activist Flavia Agnes, The Pandita Ramabai Mukti
Mission, theIndian Cancer Society, the Shillong Chamber Coir and
(Quaid Najmi can be contacted at email@example.com)