Culture And Media

Pakistan: Child poet takes on the Taliban

Islamabad, 19 Feb. (AKI) - Tuba Sahaab is taking on the Taliban. But the 11-year-old Pakistani girl is no militant and her weapons are simply her words. She lives on the outskirts of Islamabad and writes poems about the pain and suffering of children in her country despite personal threats from hardline Islamic militants.

"If they kill me, do not worry," she says. "I want everyone in Pakistan to be equal."

The young poet has been interviewed by US network, CNN, and now regularly appears in the media. She is not afraid to express her views and is famous in Pakistan.

"I want to give peace to my nation," she tells CNN (photo). "I will fight for it."

Tuba is strongly opposed to hardliners who have tried to restrict girls from going to school in certain parts of the country.

Before a peace agreement announced in the volatile Swat Valley in the country's northwest on Monday, the Taliban was forcing girls out of the classroom and destroying schools.

"This is very shocking to hear that girls can't go to school, they are taking us back to the Stone Age," Tuba says.

For the past 18 months, militants have beheaded opponents and burned scores of girls' schools in Swat, which lies next to Pakistan's tribal regions close to the Afghan border.

Monday's peace deal allows for the imposition of Islamic Sharia law in the former tourist region and surrounding districts in exchange for an end to the Taliban insurgency which has killed hundreds and forced hundreds of thousands to flee.

Tuba refuses to remain silent despite threats on her life - by letter and telephone. "Stop it or we will kill you," they say.

Tuba's parents are proud of their daughter and say they are not afraid even when she speaks out publicly against the Taliban.Her mother says she is "worth more than seven sons and seven daughters."

Tuba is inspired by US president Barack Obama and his recent election. She tells CNN she prayed for his election and dreams of meeting him Obama one day.

"I want to go the White House and show him my poems, show him what is happening and ask him to come to Pakistan and control it because he is a super power."

In her playground at school, Tuba dances and laughs with her friends. She loves writing her short stories and has already published a book.

Tuba also has a personal dream to be an astronaut and one day lead her country.

"I will do anything, if my life goes I don't worry, I just want to do something," she says.




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