Suspect’s sister apologizes for shooting of Malala


Rehana Haleem (left), who has apologised to Malala Yousafzai

Source: Independent | Andrew Buncombe

The sister of a man suspected of being involved in the shooting of the Pakistani teenage activist Malala Yousafzai has apologised for the attack, saying her brother has brought shame upon the family.

In an interview with a television channel conducted in the Swat Valley, Rehana Haleem said that the teenager who had fought for the right of young girls to be educated was like a “sister” to her. Her brother, 23-year-old Attah Ullah Khan, is one of three people police have indicated they are looking for in connection with the attack.

“Please convey a message to Malala, that I apologise for what my brother did to her,” Ms Haleem told CNN. “He has brought shame on our family.”

The young woman added: “What he did was intolerable. Malala is just like my sister. I’d like to express my concern for Malala on behalf of my whole family; I hope she recovers soon and returns to a happy and normal life as soon as possible.”

Malala, 15, was shot on 9 October as she and her classmates were on their school bus in the Swat Valley, which was under the control of the Taliban between 2007-09. Gunmen leapt aboard and demanded that the youngsters identify Malala. Three girls were shot – two of her friends who suffered non-lethal injuries and Malala herself who was struck by a bullet that passed through skin on her head and lodged in her shoulder. A Taliban spokesman claimed responsibility.

Amid the subsequent outcry, the Taliban sought to justify its actions, saying Malala had engaged with Western elements. They also blamed the media for its “negative” coverage of the shooting.

Malala, who first came to public notice when at the age of 11 she wrote an anonymous diary for the BBC during the period the Taliban held control of the Swat Valley, was rushed to hospital where doctors operated to stabilise her and to remove the bullet. Once it became clear she would require extensive rehabilitation she was flown to Britain, where she is undergoing treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.

It was reported this week that Pakistan’s President, Asif Ali Zardari, spoke with officials at the hospital for an update on the teenager’s condition and was told she was gradually improving.

Ms Haleem told CNN that security forces searched the family home a day after the attack and that the family was detained. She was pregnant and was subsequently released but her husband and other relatives remain in custody. Speaking from Warhi Mast Malik Abad, a village on the outskirts of the city of Mingora, where the attack on Malala took place, she said she had little doubt that her brother was involved in the shooting.

“If he was innocent, he would have come back and claimed he was innocent,” she said. “His behaviour is that of a guilty man. How could he abandon us?” Police said last month that they had arrested six men in connection with the shooting but were still searching for Mr Khan.

 

Attack on Malala Yousafzai strengthens resolve of Pakistani schoolgirls- #VAW #gender #justice #taliban


Students say Taliban are mistaken if they think they can scare girls away from school.

Khabar Wire Service

October 19, 2012

 

Militants who tried to kill Malala Yousafzai have strengthened the resolve of schoolgirls to attend school, her friends said.

  • A young woman holds up a portrait of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai at a candlelight vigil for her in Kathmandu on Monday (October 15th). Militant operatives shot the the 14-year-old pro-education activist October 9th in an assassination attempt. [Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters]A young woman holds up a portrait of Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai at a candlelight vigil for her in Kathmandu on Monday (October 15th). Militant operatives shot the the 14-year-old pro-education activist October 9th in an assassination attempt. [Navesh Chitrakar/Reuters]
  • A girl participating in a rally organised by the National Students Federation in Lahore, Pakistan on Monday (October 15th) holds a hand-made poster next to an image of Malala Yousafzai. [Mohsin Raza/Reuters]A girl participating in a rally organised by the National Students Federation in Lahore, Pakistan on Monday (October 15th) holds a hand-made poster next to an image of Malala Yousafzai. [Mohsin Raza/Reuters]

Even the girls who saw a gunman shoot the 14-year-old pro-education activist and two schoolmates on their bus on October 9th in Mingora, in the Swat District of Pakistan, are not backing down on their hopes and dreams of getting an education.

“The clear proof of our bravery is that – when the attackers asked us, ‘Who among you is Malala?’ – none of us replied seconds before (the shooter) began firing,” said 10th-grader Shazia, one of two other injured girls and recovering from bullet wounds to her shoulder and neck.

The girl said outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan‘s (TTP) claim of responsibility “bears no meaning for us”.

“We know the Taliban militants ‘execute’ their opponents,” Shazia said. “We know that only the Taliban can do this uncivilised act of attacking girls.”

The girls and their families remember atrocities the Taliban committed during the militants’ two-year reign of terror (2007-2009) in Swat. Citing examples, she mentioned the killing of women; bombings of mosques, schools, funeral ceremonies and the Taliban’s displaying of foes’ severed heads.

“I was neither scared the moment when the gunmen approached us nor am I now because we went to school [anyway] when Swat was under the Taliban and thousands of students had opted to stay home,” Shazia recalled.

“This [attack] cannot dent our determination, and the only weapon is to arm girls with education and defeat guns with pens,” said Kanat, the third girl injured in the shooting. “We will continue education to accomplish Malala’s mission.”

Kanat said “there’s no looking back” for Malala, mentioning her own plans to become a doctor.

TTP tactics won’t deter girls

The TTP want to frighten students into abandoning school, but won’t succeed, according to Asma Ali, a physics teacher at Malala’s school. Students showed their defiance when they turned up in droves for the October 12th morning assembly to pray for Malala.

The credit for that attitude belongs to Malala, she said, adding, “Our students aren’t afraid.”

The attempted murder of the Mingora resident who under a pen name blogged in 2009 about Taliban abuses for the BBC Urdu service, aroused widespread debate in Pakistan but has not shaken the resolve of the girls of Mingora.

“If we feared the Taliban, we couldn’t get education; therefore, we are totally oblivious to the Taliban’s attacks,” said Spogmay, a 7th grade girl who was on Malala’s bus. “It was like hell. For a moment, I thought we would not survive, the way (the gunman) fired at us indiscriminately.

“I am sure that the scales of justice would tip in our favour and ever-smiling, brave and intelligent Malala will regain health very soon,” Spogmay said, adding students would rally around Malala to ensure women’s education in the future.

Malala’s best friend Shazia said, “I will give my life in exchange for Malala’s. Losing a friend like her is unbearable.”

She recalled how Malala persuaded the girls to attend schools in the Taliban era.

“Malala used to tell us they should wear veils in compliance with the Taliban’s directives, but shouldn’t remain absent.”

Saeeda, an 8th-grade student at the same school said, “We have promised Malala that we should fight the Taliban with pen and books and I will keep that promise even at the cost of my life.

“Malala told the girls on a daily basis that ‘The Taliban are the enemy of humanity and Islam.’ We should stand up against them to thwart their efforts aiming to bar women from schools,” Saeeda said, adding Malala’s approach kept up the courage of all 500 girls at the school.

Saeeda said though her parents advised her to stay home during the Taliban’s rule, she had promised Malala she would never miss school. “All the people must pray for Malala,” she said. “She is the beacon of hope for millions of girls.”

Parents equally determined

Fathers of Malala’s schoolmates were determined not to let the Taliban chase their daughters from the schools.

“[Shazia] is extremely concerned about education and has been asking different questions,” said her father Muhammad Ramzan. “But I prevailed upon her that everything will be right and they would be in school again.”

Ramzan said he worried over Malala’s condition as if she were his own daughter. “I am a proud father because my daughter has proved that she is not afraid of anyone,” he said.

Jamil Shah, Saeeda’s father, said he would stand by his daughter “through thick and thin” and would spare no effort to ensure that she gets an education

 

Pakistani doctors remove bullet from girl shot by Taliban #vaw


By Jibran Ahmad | Reuters – 51 mins ago

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistani surgeons removed a bullet on Wednesday from a 14-year-old girl shot by the Taliban for speaking out against the militants and promoting education for girls, doctors said.

Malala Yousufzai was in critical condition after gunmen shot her in the head and neck on Tuesday as she left school. Two other girls were also wounded.

Yousufzai began standing up to the Pakistani Taliban when she was just 11, when the government had effectively ceded control of the Swat Valley where she lives to the militants.

Her courage made her a national hero and many Pakistanis were shocked by her shooting.

General Ashfaq Kayani, chief of Pakistan’s powerful army, visited her in hospital and condemned her attackers.

“The cowards who attacked Malala and her fellow students, have shown time and again how little regard they have for human life and how low they can fall in their cruel ambition to impose their twisted ideology,” Kayani said in a statement.

The military said it had a simple message, which it wrote in capital letters in the statement to add emphasis: “WE REFUSE TO BOW BEFORE TERROR.”

Doctors said they were forced to begin operating in the middle of the night after Yousufzai developed swelling in the left portion of her brain.

They removed a bullet from her body near her spinal cord during a three-hour operation that they finished at about 5 a.m. (0000 GMT).

“She is still unconscious and kept in the intensive care unit,” said Mumtaz Khan, head of a team of doctors taking care of Yousufzai in a military hospital in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

One of the girls wounded with Yousufzai is in critical condition and the other is recovering and out of danger.

The military flew Yousufzai from her home in Swat, northwest of Islamabad, to Peshawar on Tuesday.

The shooting was denounced across Pakistan. The front pages of national newspapers carried pictures of a bandaged and bloody Yousufzai being brought to hospital.

“Hate targets hope” the Express Tribune said in a headline.

Schools closed across Swat in protest over the shooting and a small demonstration was held in her hometown of Mingora. Another was planned in the eastern city of Lahore for later on Wednesday.

“All Pakistanis should come together and raise their voices against such acts. If they do not do this, then they should mentally prepare themselves for their own children’s fate to be like Malala’s,” said Saeeda Diep, an organizer of the Lahore protest.

Many commentators said Yousufzai’s courage contrasted with that of many of the country’s leaders, who fear that challenging militants will make them targets.

“PEACE WILL BE SHAKEN”

Pakistan’s president, prime minister, and heads of various opposition parties joined human rights group Amnesty International and the United Nations in condemning the attack.

“Pakistan’s future belongs to Malala and brave young girls like her. History won’t remember the cowards who tried to kill her at school,” Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said on Twitter.

The attack was also condemned by many leaders of ethnic Pashtun tribes in northwest Pakistan.

“This attack is against Pashtun and Islamic practices,” said Khurshid Kaka Ji, leader of a jirga, or tribal council, in Swat, a one-time tourist destination of peaks and meadows where the military has battled the Taliban intermittently since 2007.

“The security forces and police deployed should capture the attackers and punish them. If they do not catch these people, then the peace that Swat has gained through bloodshed will be shaken.”

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack saying Yousufzai was “pro-West”, had been promoting Western culture and had been speaking out against them.

They justified shooting her by citing instances from the Koran when a child or woman was killed.

“Any female that, by any means, plays a role in the war against mujahideen should be killed,” said Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan, using the term for Islamic holy warriors to refer to the Taliban.

“We are dead against co-education and a secular education system.”

President Asif Ali Zardari said he had directed that Yousufzai be sent abroad for medical care.

A special aircraft had been sent to Peshawar in case doctors say she should be moved to the United Arab Emirates, said Zaibullah Khan, general manager of the city’s airport.

Imran Khan, a former cricketer turned politician who recently led a march into northwestern Pakistan protesting against U.S. drone strikes, said he was willing to pay for Yousufzai’s medical treatment in Pakistan or abroad.

“Brave girl. Praying for her recovery,” he said on Twitter.

(Additional reporting by Kathari

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