Taliban shooting victim Malala Yousufzai is the most courageous girl in world, says Gordon Brown

Few watched in Pakistan. Only two of the country’s channels showed the speech live

New York

Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown hailed Malala Yousafzai as “the most courageous girl in the world” as the Pakistani schoolgirl who was attacked by the Taliban last year called on world governments to provide free compulsory education for every child in a speech at the United Nations headquarters in New York.

The address, timed to coincide with her 16th birthday, drew a standing ovation at a special Youth Assembly held in the presence of Mr Brown, who is the UN’s special envoy for education, and the body’s Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, who declared it  “Malala day”.

Ms Yousafzai, who was shot in the head in October in Pakistan’s Swat Valley after attracting the ire of the Taliban for raising a voice against its attacks on girls’ education, also presented Mr Ban with a petition signed by 4 million people asking for help to deliver education to all children.

The speech came as Save the Children released a report based on research by Unesco revealing that almost 50 million children living in war zones do not attend school at all, and that attacks on education are on the rise, largely due to the conflict in Syria. Justin Forsyth, Save the Children’s chief executive, said of Malala: “She was speaking for the nearly 50 million children around the world who are currently being denied the opportunity of an education because of conflict.” He added that the world “should listen” to Malala, who was nearly killed in last year’s attack.

Few, however, managed to watch Ms Yousafzai in Pakistan. Only two of the county’s many news channels showed the speech live. The most-watched broadcaster, Geo News, showed portions of the speech later, while other channels all stuck to normal programming. Moreover, Pakistanis are currently unable to see videos on YouTube, because of an ongoing court ban.

The speech did not get much attention in the days leading up to the event. In Pakistan, she is seen as a hero by many, especially those who oppose the Taliban’s campaign of violence. But for others she has been turned into to an object of controversy, shrouded in conspiracy theories wildly alleging that she was “a CIA agent” and that her shooting was “staged”.

These theories have had alarmingly wide purchase among young Pakistanis on the internet. The hostility to the schoolgirl, some observers say, is a measure of the pitch of anti-Americanism in Pakistan, where even the faintest association with the US is attacked.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and Clara have their first real heart to heart since he regenerated in 'Deep Breath'
TV
Arts and Entertainment
James Hewitt has firmly denied being Harry’s father
arts + ents
Arts and Entertainment
Jamie Oliver
filmTV chef Jamie Oliver turned down role in The Hobbit
News
The official police photograph of Dustin Diamond taken after he was arrested in Wisconsin
peopleDownfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Sport
Ashley Barnes of Burnley scores their second goal
footballMan City vs Burnley match report
News
news
News
Sir James Dyson: 'Students must be inspired to take up the challenge of engineering'
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Man of action: Christian Bale stars in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Life and Style
Apple showed no sign of losing its talent for product launches with the new, slightly larger iPhone 6 making headlines
techSecurity breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Embedded Linux Engineer - C / C++

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A well funded smart home compan...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Software Engineer - Python / Node / C / Go

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: *Flexible working in a relaxed ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Bookkeeper

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This accountancy firm have an e...

Recruitment Genius: Junior Developer / Mobile Apps / Java / C# / HTML 5 / JS

£17000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Junior Mobile Application Devel...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?