Pakistani Girl Shot Over Activism in Swat Valley, Claims Taliban

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Sharon Behn
VOA News
October 9, 2012

A Pakistani girl who earned international recognition for her diary documenting Taliban cruelty while the terrorist group controlled her home town has been shot. The Taliban had openly threatened Malala Yousafzai.

A gunman shot Malala Yousafzai, seriously wounding her and injuring at least one other girl Tuesday as they were leaving school.

Yousafazi started writing about Taliban atrocities in Pakistan’s northwest when she was just 11 years old. She wrote under the pseudonym of Gul Makai, in a blog published by the BBC.

Pakistan Prime Minister Raza Pervez Ashraf lashed out against the attack.

“We have to set aside differences over minor issues and collectively condemn and continue our fight against the extremist mindset behind this attack,” said Ashraf. “If that mindset prevails then, be it Malala or any other daughter of this country will not be safe.”

Ashraf said as soon as he had heard about the shooting, he sent a helicopter to take Yousafzai, 14, to a hospital. Speaking to parliament, the prime minister said he had ordered authorities to immediately investigate the incident.

Local news reports said President Asif Ali Zardari condemned the attack and insisted it would not deter Pakistan from eliminating extremism and terrorism.

Yousafzai was nominated for the prestigious International Children Peace Award for her writings of life under the Taliban, when the militants controlled large areas of Pakistan’s Swat valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province in 2008-2009.

The Taliban ruled the region through a show of force marked by beheadings and other violence. Defying the Taliban’s ban on girls going to school, Yousafzai and her friends continued to study.

A huge military offensive ousted the Taliban from the Swat valley in 2009, but the shooting attack highlighted the difficulties the government has faced in eliminating the militant threat.

The teenage rights activist had received numerous threats to her life. Independent political and defense analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi said the Taliban wanted to make an example of the girl.

“The message is obviously that whomsoever they consider as a threat, they will target,” said Rizvi. “That is the established Taliban policy.”

In 2011 Yousafzai was awarded the National Peace Award by the Pakistani government.

This article first appeared on VOA News.

This article was posted: Tuesday, October 9, 2012 at 10:43 am

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