By Mick Krever, CNN
The attempted Taliban assassination of Malala Yousafzai, a 15-year-old girl who advocated for girls’ education, drew a line in the sand between extremism and progressivism, former Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Tuesday.
“The contrast is so overwhelming,” she said, “that in some ways it helps Pakistanis, and it reminds Pakistanis, to who these people really are, and the fact that we cannot have Pakistan be taken over by such thought and such people.”
Wednesday marks one year since the Pakistani Taliban boarded Yousafzai’s school bus, singled her out by name, and shot her in the head – a response, ostensibly, to her public advocacy for girl’s education.
Amanpour will interview Yousafzai in a special, The Bravest Girl in the World, which will air on Sunday, October 13.
“Malala Yousafzai and what happened to her divided Pakistan in two,” Khar said.
On one side was the vision of founding father Muhammed Ali Jinnah, she told Amanpour, “of a progressive nation state where people and citizens grow, develop, and enjoy the basic benefits of life.”
On the other, she said, was the vision of “a Pakistan which was conservative, a Pakistan which had no space for minorities, a Pakistan for heaven’s sake which had no space for girls’ education.”
“So the line was drawn,” Khar told Amanpour. “And the grey area was contracted to a very large extent, and we had black and white in front of us.”
Yousafzai’s cause, girls’ education, is in dire straits in Pakistan, Khar said.
“There needs to be an education emergency in this country,” she told Amanpour.
“There’s still twenty-five million Pakistani school-going children, or school-age children, between five and sixteen, who are still out of school. And the proportion of women, or girls, you can imagine is even greater, it’s fifteen million.”
Khar stepped down as foreign minister earlier this year – she was the first woman, and youngest person, to hold that post.
She has also given up her seat in parliament. She told Amanpour that she “chose not to run for this election.”
But she gave up her seat for her father, Amanpour protested – what message would that send to Pakistan’s girls?
“I contested for my family when I had brothers. So typically you only put out the women when there are no males who can run for election,” Khar said. “But there are other avenues to reach parliament, so I will certainly be exploring other avenues. So I thought, we thought as a family that it was better for my family to be in the national assembly, and I could explore other avenues.”