Wednesday 21 February 2018

Taliban chief writes to Malala explaining why she was shot

Malala Yousafzai speaking at UN headquarters in New York
Malala Yousafzai speaking at UN headquarters in New York

Rob Crilly in Islamabad

A senior figure in the Pakistan Taliban has written an extraordinary letter to the campaigning schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai setting out the reasons why she was shot – and coming close to expressing regret.

In the four-page document, Adnan Rasheed described his shock at hearing that the 15 year-old had been shot last year.

He claimed that he had wanted to warn her against criticising the Taliban because of his "brotherly" feelings towards someone from his own Yousafzai tribe.

"When you were attacked it was shocking for me. I wished it would never have happened and I had advised you before," he wrote.

Malala, who has spent the past nine months in Britain recovering from her injuries, was shot twice by masked gunmen who singled her out among her friends on a school bus in the town of Mingora in the Swat Valley.

Since then she has become a symbol of the campaign to help more girls into school.

Last week, she addressed the United Nations in a speech that received global attention, where she declared: "One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution."

Her story has provoked soul- searching within the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Commanders sent out a series of press releases after the shooting to justify why they had attacked a young girl as public opinion hardened against them.

In the letter, Rasheed said Malala was not shot because of her campaign for education.

"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," he wrote.


"You have said in your speech yesterday that pen is mightier than sword, so they attacked you for your sword, not for your books or school."

Rasheed is one of Pakistan's most notorious terrorists. He was in the Pakistan airforce before being imprisoned for a plot to kill Pervez Musharraf, the former president, but escaped in a mass jailbreak last year.

Now he has a taste for flowery prose, quoting Bertrand Russell on science and referencing Sir TB Macaulay, who played a major role in introducing the English language to Indian schools in the 19th Century.

"Why they want to make all human beings English? Because Englishmen are the staunch supporters and slaves of Jews," he wrote.

Rasheed insisted that the Taliban did not oppose education, just an education system that would turn Pakistanis into slaves and had no room for Islam.

The letter ends with an invitation to return and embrace the culture of Malala's Pashtun population, which lives along the border with Afghanistan. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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