October 19, 2012

29RNS: Taliban Unrepentant After Attack on Pakistani Teen

Taliban Unrepentant After
Attack on Pakistani Teen

BY HANI YOUSUF and JANELLE DUMALAON                                                               ©2012 USA Today

The Taliban is threatening to kill a 14-year-old Pakistani girl whom it shot for helping other girls go to school--if she survives a wounding that has made her a hero to many Pakistanis.

Schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head and neck, was airlifted on October 11 to a military hospital for her own protection after the attack that also injured two of her friends. A hospital spokesman described her condition as "satisfactory" on October 12.

Maj. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said she is being kept unconscious and on a ventilator. He said the bullet entered her head and went into her neck toward her spine, but it was too soon to say whether she had any significant head injury.

According to news reports, Yousafazi was subsequently airlifted to the United Kingdom for specialized treatment and her condition is improving at press time.    

Pakistanis in government and media have expressed outrage over the shooting that happened October 9 as the girls were boarding a school bus for home. Malala was targeted for speaking out about girls' education in Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan, an area where Islamists who oppose schools for girls have much control.

The Taliban admitted to the shooting and authorities have offered a reward of $100,000 for the capture of the assailant. The Taliban says it's not done with Malala, according to Pakistan's Dawn newspaper, and has threatened her family and vowed to kill her.

"It's absolutely devastating," said Ayesha Siddiqa, a social scientist and defense analyst in Islamabad.

In 2009, Malala wrote a blog under a pseudonym about living under Taliban rule for the BBC in the Urdu language--winning a national peace prize for her efforts.

"I realized the importance of education when it was banned in Swat," Malala said in an August interview with Black Box Sounds, a production company in Pakistan. "I wanted to be able to attend school again. I wished for peace in Swat and that I could go to school."