Children's Crusade: Should This Girl Be Risking Her Safety?


CNN ran a brief profile today of a young Pakistani girl whose openly anti-Taliban poetry is bringing her notoriety. We admire her, but can’t help wondering…is this kind of exposure safe?

11-year-old Tuba Sahaab is described as “a slight girl of 11, living in a simple home in a suburb of Islamabad.” In a profile rife with superlatives, the author describes her work thusly:

With her pen, Tuba is taking on the swords of the Taliban. She crafts poems telling of the pain and suffering of children just like her; girls banned from school, their books burned, as the hard-core Islamic militants spread their reign of terror across parts of Pakistan.

Tuba lives near a Taliban-controlled region where opponents of the regime are routinely executed in what’s known locally as “slaughter square.” Tuba’s parents are proud of their daughter’s courage and apparently feel her safety isn’t compromised by her politcally-charged work. As to the poet herself, she speaks of wanting to be an astronaut and meet President Obama. “I want to go the White Palace 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.”

This is indeed heartwarming, but the piece is troubling; Tuba is apparently active in local media, and the piece describes a recent appearance on public radio. Surely exposure in an international media outlet such as CNN will only increase her visibility. While her parents’ support is great, is this kind of activism truly safe under the “reign of terror” the author describes? She is, after all, a child – even if one “wise and brave beyond her years” – and while her sentiments may be laudable, it’s also true that she’s obviously in agreement with her parents, who facilitate her activism. I’m not questioning that the impetus comes from the child herself, or that someone her age can bring an unusual passion, but something about the obvious danger of her position makes me highly uneasy. I wish her safety and look forward to seeing her mature into what will surely be a force to be reckoned with. Girl poet takes on the Taliban with her pen [CNN]

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