Friday 23 March 2018

Taliban letter to Malala just a PR stunt, says injured friend

Malala Yousafzai: spoke out against the Taliban at the UN
Malala Yousafzai: spoke out against the Taliban at the UN

Rob Crilly Islamabad

A teenager wounded alongside the campaigning schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai has condemned the Pakistan Taliban's letter of regret as a "pack of lies".

Kainat Riaz (16) said the letter – in which Adnan Rasheed, a notorious terrorist, said he had wanted to warn Malala against criticising the movement out of "brotherly" concern – was nothing more than a public relations stunt.

"There's no truth that writer Adnan Rasheed is shocked at Malala's attack," she said. "The Taliban consider her a great enemy and what has been described in the letter is a pack of lies."

The four-page letter, which surfaced on Wednesday, claimed that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) did not oppose education for girls and that Malala was attacked because she was running a smear campaign against the group.

Rasheed, who escaped from prison last year, drafted the letter after Malala addressed the UN last week to worldwide acclaim.

He invited her to return to Pakistan but only if she attended a madrassah, an offer dismissed out of hand by those who know her best. "Malala would never come to Pakistan upon the Taliban's invitation and would never seek admission to a Taliban-run seminary," said Kainat, who was wounded in the shoulder as she sat alongside her friend in the school bus.

Malala was shot in her home town of Mingora in the Swat Valley last October. Afrasiab Khattak, a family friend, said Rasheed's letter was in part a threat to Malala and in part an attempt to wrest back the limelight. "People like him can't tolerate Malala's appearance at the UN and the response she got," he said. "He knows how much this costs their cause so this is damage control." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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