In 2009, private schools in Pakistan’s troubled northwestern Swat district were ordered to close by a Taliban edict banning girls’ education. About 150 schools had already been destroyed the year before. Here Malala Yousafzai, then in Grade 7, chronicled how the ban affected her and her classmates. The diary first appeared on BBC Urdu online in 2009.
SATURDAY JAN. 3: I AM AFRAID
I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taliban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid going to school because the Taliban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.
Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taliban’s edict. My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict.
On my way from school to home I heard a man saying "I will kill you." I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone.
SUNDAY JAN. 4: I HAVE TO GO TO SCHOOL
Today is a holiday and I woke up late, around 10 a.m. I heard my father talking about another three bodies lying at Green Chowk [crossing]. I felt bad on hearing this news. Before the launch of the military operation we all used to go to Marghazar, Fiza Ghat and Kanju for picnics on Sundays. But now the situation is such that we have not been out on picnic for over a year and a half.
We also used to go for a walk after dinner but now we are back home before sunset. Today I did some household chores, my homework and played with my brother. But my heart was beating fast – as I have to go to school tomorrow.
MONDAY, JAN. 5: DO NOT WEAR COLOURFUL DRESSES
I was getting ready for school and about to wear my uniform when I remembered that our principal had told us not to wear uniforms – and come to school wearing normal clothes instead. So I decided to wear my favourite pink dress. Other girls in school were also wearing colourful dresses and the school presented a homely look.
Swat has been a centre of militant activity. My friend came to me and said, "For God’s sake, answer me honestly, is our school going to be attacked by the Taliban?" During the morning assembly we were told not to wear colourful clothes as the Taliban would object to it.
I came back from school and had tuition sessions after lunch. In the evening I switched on the TV and heard that curfew had been lifted from Shakardra after 15 days. I was happy to hear that because our English teacher lived in the area and she might be coming to school now.
WEDNESDAY, JAN. 7: NO FIRING OR FEAR
I have come to Bunair to spend Muharram [a Muslim holiday] on vacation. I adore Bunair because of its mountains and lush green fields. My Swat is also very beautiful but there is no peace. But in Bunair there is peace and tranquillity. Neither is there any firing nor any fear. We all are very happy.
Today we went to Pir Baba mausoleum and there were lots of people there. People are here to pray while we are here for an excursion. There are shops selling bangles, earrings, lockets and other artificial jewellery. I thought of buying something but nothing impressed – my mother bought earrings and bangles.
FRIDAY, JAN. 9: THE MAULANA GOES ON LEAVE?
Today at school I told my friends about my trip to Bunair. They said that they were sick and tired of hearing the Bunair story. We discussed the rumours about the death of Maulana Shah Dauran, who used to give speeches on FM radio. He was the one who announced the ban on girls attending school.
Some girls said that he was dead but others disagreed. The rumours of his death are circulating because he did not deliver a speech the night before on FM radio. One girl said that he had gone on leave.