We all remember the shock late last year when young Pakistani girl, Malala Yousafzai, was shot – in broad daylight – by a Taliban assassin. The teenager recovered, resettled in the UK and then heroically addressed the United Nations on her 16th birthday – this month – vowing not to be silenced by terrorists.
Nine months after a gunman shot her on a bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley for demanding education for girls, Malala Yousafzai received multiple standing ovations at the United Nations Youth Assembly in New York. She addressed nearly 1,000 students from around the world and her speech was immediately hailed for its power.
Bravely, Ms Yousafzai showed the attack on her had done nothing to dim her passion for girls’ education. She has not returned to Pakistan, due to persistent Taliban threats against her.
In what can only be described as a surprising turnaround, a Taliban commander has written to Ms Yousafzai, saying he regretted her shooting last year by militants and has urged her to come home ::::
In a fiery, densely written letter packed with references to philosophers and politicians, commander Adnan Rasheed said he wished he could have told her to “refrain from anti-Taliban activities” to prevent the attack.
“My all emotions were brotherly for you because we belong to same Yousafzai tribe,” he wrote in the English-language letter dated July 15 and confirmed as authentic by the Taliban. “When you were attacked it was shocking for me. I wished it would never happened and I had advised you before. At the end I advise you to come back home.”
Rasheed’s rant neither apologised nor does the Taliban commander condemn the terrorist groups attack on Malala, saying the judgement should be left to god. Rasheed’s goes on to says that the group is not “against education of any men or women or girls”. Instead he claims Malala was targeted because she campaigned to “malign – the Taliban’s – efforts to establish the Islamic system”.
In her speech to the UN, Ms Yousafzai showed the attack on her had done nothing to dim her passion for girls’ education, speaking eloquently with no sign of her nine month fight for life.
“Let us pick up our books and pens, they are our most powerful weapons,” Ms Yousafzai said. “One child, one teacher … can change the world.”
Wearing a pink headscarf and a shawl belonging to the assassinated Pakistani leader Benazir Bhutto, Ms Yousafzai insisted she did not want “personal revenge” against the man who shot her.
“I want education for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists,” she said. “Education is the only solution. They shot my friends too. They thought that the bullets would silence us. But they failed and out of that silence came thousands of voices.The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions, but nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. I am not against anyone, neither am I here to speak in terms of personal revenge against the Taliban or any other terrorist group. I do not even hate the talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hand and he stands in front of me, I would not shoot him.”
Ms Yousafzai has become a global superstar and is now considered a leading contender for the Nobel Peace Prize.
In his letter, Mr Rasheed, a former Pakistan Air Force officer – once jailed for trying to assassinate General Pervez Musharraf – urged Ms Yousafzai to join a female Islamic school to “use her pen for Islam”. He denied the Taliban had attacked her because of her campaign against Taliban efforts to deny girls education.
“Please mind that Taliban or Mujahideen are not against the education of any men or women or girl,” Mr Rasheed wrote. “Taliban believe that you were intentionally writing against them and running a smearing campaign to malign their efforts to establish Islamic system in Swat and your writings were provocative.”
In the four-page letter, Mr Rasheed goes on to accuse the West of imposing its standards on other nations and attacks figures including US president Barack Obama and former US secretary of state Henry Kissinger, as well as the English and Jews.
Ms Yousafzai has been named as one of Time magazine’s most influential people in 2013 and has reportedly secured a $US3 million contract for a book on her life story, but the Taliban have made it clear she remains a target. Ms Yousafzai presented UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon with a petition signed by 4 million people in support of 57 million children around the world who are not able to go to school. It demanded that world leaders fund new teachers, schools and books and end child labor, marriage and trafficking.
Mr Ban said the UN was committed to a target of getting all children in school by the end of 2015.
“No child should have to die for going to school,” Mr Ban said. “Nowhere should teachers fear to teach or children fear to learn. Together, we can change this picture.”
After the shooting, the critically ill Ms Yousafazi was treated in Pakistan before the United Arab Emirates provided an air ambulance to fly her to Britain, where doctors mended parts of her skull with a titanium plate. Unable to safely return to Pakistan, she enrolled in a school in Birmingham, England in March.
Her mother wiped away tears as she watched her daughter thank all those who helped save her life.
Ms Yousafzai started a diary at the age of 11, written under the pseudonym of Gul Makai, the name of a Pashtun heroine, that was published on BBC Urdu. The young girl built up a worldwide following of supporters as she told of the anxiety she and friends felt as they saw students dropping out for fear of being targeted by militants.
Girls also refused to wear uniforms to school in case militants saw them. Ms Yousafzai and her family briefly left Swat during a government offensive on the Taliban controlled territory. On their return, they were the subject of threats by militants before the attack on October 9 last year.
The Taliban said Ms Yousafzai was shot because of her efforts to promote “secular education”, calling her efforts pro-Western. Two of her classmates were also wounded.
Under Taliban rule in neighbouring Afghanistan from 1996 to 2001, women were forced to cover up and were banned from voting, most work and leaving their homes unless accompanied by a husband or male relative.
“The extremists were and they are afraid of books and pens, the power of education frightens them,” Ms Yousafzai said. “They are afraid of women. When we were in Swat … we realised the importance of pens and books when we saw the guns.”
Original Post: A 14-year-old Pakistani girl who campaigned for children’s rights is fighting for her life after being shot in the head on her school bus by a cowardly Taliban gunman. Malala Yousafzai had campaigned for girls’ education and was nominated for an international peace prize. Malala Yousafzai won international recognition for highlighting Taliban atrocities in Swat with a blog for the BBC three years ago, when Islamist militants burned girls’ schools and terrorized the valley.
Malala Yousafzai was shot in broad daylight in Mingora, the main town of the Swat valley, raising serious questions about security more than three years after the army claimed to have crushed a Taliban insurgency there. Malala was flown to the north-western city of Peshawar where a team of senior doctors said she was in a critical condition. Two other girls were injured in the attack.
Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP the Islamist group carried out the attack after repeatedly warning Malala to stop speaking out against them :: Read the full article »»»»