WASHINGTON, D.C. —At the invitation of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, a VOA journalist performed at the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony today in Oslo.
Sardar Ali, besides being a member of VOA’s Deewa Service, which broadcasts in Pashto to the rugged border region shared by Pakistan and Afghanistan, is also a well-known singer in both countries. He was invited to Oslo because his song “Bibi Shereena” is a favorite of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who survived a Taliban assassination attempt in 2012. She is a co-winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, with India’s Kailash Satyarthi. Malala told the Nobel committee of her fondness for the song, and it then invited Ali to perform “Bibi Shereena” at today’s award ceremony.
The song that is now so popular grew out of a conversation between Ali and another Deewa colleague, Behroz Khan, a little more than two years ago, shortly after the Taliban failed to kill Malala for speaking out in favor of educating women. Like Ali, Khan has other talents besides broadcasting. He is a poet and the day after the conversation with Ali he wrote, in tribute to Malala, lyrics praising young Pakistani women who yearn for an education and want to help their country have a brighter future. "Bibi Shereena," which translates from the Pashto as “You are an Adorable Lady,” was already the name of the title song of a daily Deewa morning show for women, Bibi Shereena, and now the song had words, words heard by millions around the world today.
In the days leading up to the ceremony, Malala’s family told the Deewa Service she had requests for interviews from at least 300 news organizations. She granted interviews to six of them, one of which was VOA. Asked today by VOA Deewa what the award meant to her, she said it had increased her sense of responsibility and added: “Now I have to work more to ensure that every child receives education. I believe that Pakistan will progress only when Pakistani kids will receive higher education.”
It’s no wonder that people want to write about her in word and in song.