Malala Yousafzai: The Latest Victim in the War on Children in Pakistan

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for a hideous attack on a young schoolgirl they deemed "an infidel" for championing her right to go to school

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T. MUGHAL / EPA

Pakistani blogger and activist Malala Yousafzai in Islamabad on March 8, 2012

Updated: Oct. 10, 2012 at 4:00 a.m. EST

A 14-year-old activist and blogger was shot in the head on her way back from school in Pakistan’s Swat Valley on Tuesday, the latest in a troubling string of incidents involving children in Pakistan. Malala Yousafzai was injured along with two travel companions when Taliban assailants opened fire on their vehicle in the town of Mingora. On Wednesday, Yousafzai, who started blogging about the Taliban’s ban on girls’ education in Swat when she was 11, had undergone successful surgery in a hospital in Peshawar to remove a bullet from her head.

The attack on Yousafzai made news in no small part because the Pakistani government awarded the precocious teenager a National Peace Award in December for her bravery in exposing the difficulties of living in the oppressive shadow of the Taliban. She has spoken publicly about children’s rights in Swat, and had been nominated for an international children’s peace prize. “The people of Swat are not terrorists,” she told al-Jazeera in a 2010 interview, during a period when the Taliban was in retreat. “If this new generation is not given pens, they will be given guns by terrorists.”

(PHOTOS: The Taliban’s War in Pakistan)

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) quickly claimed responsibility for the attack against Yousafzai, and said that the incident should serve as a warning to other children who participate in “secular-minded” activities. “She was pro-West, she was speaking against Taliban, and she was calling President Obama her idol,” a TTP spokesman told the Express Tribune, a daily in Pakistan.

The assault is yet another disturbing example of children, particularly young girls, being targeted in an increasingly tense atmosphere in conservative regions of Pakistan. The country’s Supreme Court is currently investigating a case in which a tribal council in Balochistan allegedly ordered the barter of 13 girls for marriage as a settlement in a blood feud between two tribes. The tradition of giving away women for marriage in order to settle disputes, called vani, has been in practice for centuries, but was made illegal under a 2011 law and is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine of roughly $5,200. In August, a 14-year-old Christian girl was arrested in an Islamabad slum for blasphemy after tearing out and burning pages of the Koran. A court has since found there was no evidence that she was guilty, but her accuser, a local imam, may be charged with tampering evidence in her case.

(MORE: The Taliban Halts Polio Vaccines — and Pakistan’s Kids Will Pay)

The attempt on Yousafzai’s life was condemned by both Pakistan’s prime minister and president, as well as the U.S. state department. Support for the girl has poured in over social media and from members of the international human rights community. “This attack highlights the extremely dangerous climate human rights activists face in north-western Pakistan, where particularly female activists live under constant threats from the Taliban and other militant groups,” Mustafa Qadri, a researcher for Amnesty International in Pakistan, said in a statement. According to Amnesty International, two other activists working on women’s education have been killed by militants in the region in the past year. “The Pakistani authorities must demonstrate by their actions that they are committed to giving women and girls the same opportunities as men and boys despite threats,” said Qadri.

Yousafzai’s blog entries for BBC’s Urdu site offered a rare window into the lives of an 11-year-old and her friends in one of the most dangerous and remote places in Pakistan. Under the pen name Gul Makai, Yousafzai wrote about watching the violence in Swat escalate while her personal freedoms shrank. On Jan. 14, 2009, the day before a Taliban edict went into effect shuttering her school, Yousafzai wrote: “Since today was the last day of our school, we decided to play in the playground a bit longer. I am of the view that the school will one day reopen, but while leaving I looked at the building as if I would not come here again.”

MORE: Pakistan Still Propping Up the Taliban, Alleges Secret NATO Report

220 comments
Deepak Nagre
Deepak Nagre

 Shame on that CRUEL Talibanis! They should punished by UNO.

Ayman Freeman
Ayman Freeman

a. There is no foundation in Islam for preventing girls from education. Many teachers of the most famous Islamic scholars were women! Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, once pointed to his wife Aisha with pride and said to Muslims, "Take half of all knowledge of your religion from this red faced women!" b. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) emphatically forbade labeling people infidel, especially fellow believers. The Taliban are a Mafia trying to legitimize themselves with the cloak of religion they are farthest from. They do not fool the majority of Muslims.

Laura Bean Wilson
Laura Bean Wilson

What is most alarming and amazing to me in this forum is how many of you resort to name calling and finger pointing. How absurdly childish, mindless and absolutely unhelpful to the problems of the world. If you can't  BE and adult and act like a responsible one, please, DO NOT vote. You don't deserve  the priviledge.  Calmer heads prevail. The problems of this world are not going t be solved if we can't listen to one another without resorting to violence of one extreme or another. It's tolerance of this behavior that feeds the hate that allows a 14 year old child to be shot.

Ronald Dean Taylor Jr.
Ronald Dean Taylor Jr.

I don't condone any killing of people in the Mideast by any means most people there are friendly and I feel sorry for that region of the world obviously evolving is not in their genes

Ronald Dean Taylor Jr.
Ronald Dean Taylor Jr.

you honestly think were going to let some unstable region of the world have nuclear arms get real and if they do here come the Marines how to light them up

Ronald Dean Taylor Jr.
Ronald Dean Taylor Jr.

if their countries could take care of the problem we wouldn't have to World Police them

karur
karur

 Pakistan has failed miserably on all counts. Lack of security for its  helpless citizens, includes minorities, especially women. What has happened to Malala is truly painful. Her only guilt was that she wanted freedom of choice, which is being denied by Islamists in the name of religion. All this happens because the Military establishment has nurtured and encouraged terrorists for their own agenda and in the process made the country ungovernable. God will save young Malala and millions others but not thughs who commit such crimes in the name of God

Modibbo Abdullahi
Modibbo Abdullahi

We ve seen how you light them up in Iraq's Abugraib, Afghanistan and Gontanamo Cuba. America created the jihadists then sends the marines to blast and roast them. Happy hunting jihadists burners!

Modibbo Abdullahi
Modibbo Abdullahi

You did that in Abhugraib prison, Iraq and Afghanistan as well as in Gontanamo Cuba. America created the jihadists then send the marines to blast and roast them. Happx hunting jihadists' burners!

Basab Roy
Basab Roy

Islam has witnessed thosands and thousand Muslims believers had been killed, will be killed in future also by another set of Muslim Believers in order to protect sanctity of Islam !!! how funny these morons are...

Modibbo Abdullahi
Modibbo Abdullahi

According to the Bible, Jesus(peace be upon him), didnot say Kill all those who have hand in my crucification. No. Rather, Jesus said: "Forgive them God, for they know not what they do." Use Taliban source of reasoning to change them. Pray for the shot gir

Modibbo Abdullahi
Modibbo Abdullahi

It is not Islam that produces Alqaeda and the Taliban, America and the CIA, Just like it isnt Christianity that produced Hitler, but Nazism. Please pray for both the shot girl and the Talibans, to stop this vicious circle.

Modibbo Abdullahi
Modibbo Abdullahi

When America under Reagan's administration wanted to use the Taliban to fight Russia in Afghanistan, Reagan invited key Taliban leaders to America, and told them they were "The moral equivalent of America's founding fathers.'The Taliban fought and defeat R

Modibbo Abdullahi
Modibbo Abdullahi

Expletives and emotion would change nothing. Use the Talibans' source of reasoning to change them to your way of thinking. Ronald Reagan used it and it worked because the Taliban lived to the label Reagan gave them: "moral equivalent of foundìng fathers of

Modibbo Abdullahi
Modibbo Abdullahi

Hate-speech, stereotyping of muslims and Islam becauseof actions of a group are as criminal as encouraging girls to defy the Taliban so as to get killed in order to kill the Taliban. Pray for both the girl. Use Talibans' source of reasoning to change them

Modibbo Abdullahi
Modibbo Abdullahi

Was Hitler serving Christianity by genocide against Jews? Was extermination of millions of Jews by the Nazis sacrifice to Christian God? Is America's killings of children in its terror was in Iraq, Afghanistan service to Christianity?

Shimmana
Shimmana

Those who shot her are nothing but butchering monsters who have no respect for human life. 

jkaravidas
jkaravidas

the girl died in the name of the faith. the existence and empowerment of the Taliban is a different issue. US is waging a war to keep fat americans cozy in their houses and the flow of oil to continue in their country. but the girl did not died because of that. some mullah gave an order to shoot her because she was going to school and did not respect their view of the Quran. it has nothing to do with the war casualties.

War is wrong and hatefull and causes many casualties  but its a different issue

NimrahGhazanfar
NimrahGhazanfar

It is so easy to attack Islam the moment something goes wrong but it is totally legit to kill people in drone attacks and conduct operations in areas that are filled with innocent families! Yet no one talks about this! everyone turns a blind eye to this issue! Pathetic Really! I hope and pray that Malala lives and it is compulsory in Islam to educate women so whoever did this is not a Muslim. It is easy to point out the Islam terrorizes people into following and yet people don't see what happens to countries who go against U.S.A. It is quite sad that before 9/11 Pakistan knew peace and right after that U.S.A terrorized Muslim states and destroyed them ! To keep America safe people around the world are dying and yet religion is blamed! 

jkaravidas
jkaravidas

 These acts show the real face of Islam who demands its followers to be illiterate and blindfolded so the can execute the commands of their perverted mullahs without ever questioning them, it is the “word of god” they say!!

Where are now the “moderate Muslims” to condemn this act?? Silent as usual when they are embarrassed by the acts of their same of faith savages with no real response except stupid and vague talks that Islam is a faith of peace and love.

Where are now the multiculturalists who support the massive migration of hordes of these illiterate savages in the heart of Europe?? Silent as usual until some “martyr of faith” kills their kids for the ultimate crime against God of going to school, not wearing black robes from head to toe and staying home where they belong to pray to Allah 5 times daily!!

But i really don’t care if these people, with the IQ of a camel, do these things in their countries. They can tear each others throat and chop their heads of without me losing any bit of my sunny disposition, as long as they do it in their countries and not demanding from me to respect their barbaric religion and the atrocities the commit in the name of it.

Scythian12
Scythian12

Oh and when scores of children are massacred in dronestrikes it's not "a war on children". So what's the american rationale that when the Taliban kill one child it's a "war on children" but when americans massacre scores of children it's just "collateral damage" or a war department statistic? Oh and I guess never mind the children killed by a renegade u.s. soldier in their sleep. That's "truth,justice and the american way" for you. Fighting terror or eliminating the minor competition?

William SP
William SP

talibans terminal ill/sickmind they think women slaves/ornament possesion their self sexual pleasure nothing else ,taliban disregard the nature of women as human being , that she had the right to do what she want what she needs and what she want to learn on her little way/capacity and her pleasure to do it in freedom.

Tammy Truong
Tammy Truong

Of course Education is to be fear, for it is Knowledge. That's why they fear Education. Keeping the followers fearful.

Tammy Truong
Tammy Truong

Now we know: women are ban from education. Women are ban from driving. Women are ban from being outside of her home without a man from age 6. Women are ban from appearing on Breast/cervical cancer awareness ads etc. Punishment are death sentences. Good vs Evil. Light vs Dark. Enlightenment and Awaken. May she recover. May God watch over her. Dear pure heart Malala.

Naween Roshan
Naween Roshan

Islam is the holy Religion  which have been gave woman and male rights before 1500 years, no need to make new rights for them they have already. if Muslim implement those rights on them selves then no fight, no sadness, no problem will occurre to them. Islam is really one pace full religion. which learn us humanity, not terrorism.  

Taha
Taha

That's why we support drone attacks on you..

Aisha Khan
Aisha Khan

If anyone really believes that the Taliban is a representative of Islam and of the many Muslims around the world then they are as ignorant as these terrorists because they have not read any thing to seek knowledge and choose not to accept and understand a simple true fact that the Taliban are an ARMY they recruit to gain more power they are about control, sexism, racism and money and are completely ignorant about humanity or any rights for women children of any religion creed or colour including intelligent innocent Muslims like this lovely young girl who is a true representative of Islam as she spoke the truth and what happens to people who speak the truth in the face of people who want power through terrorizing and spreading fear ? Violence ! Read the history books ! look around ! speak to people out side your comfort zone ! And gain perspective ! And personal knowledge PEACE !

Taha
Taha

Fu**you Taliban for hitting the innocent daughter of my country...That's makes you even more loser..You aren't even able to call yourself a human...Soon you will root in hell and we will free our lands from you...

Charles Dawson
Charles Dawson

Doesn't seem logical to do something like cause she wanted an education

Chris Jegede
Chris Jegede

It is obvious that ignorant has replace the so called religious belief. If we should ask the killer of d 14yr old nation future; is the killing a sacrifice to their God? If the answer is yes; it simply mean that their god is wicked which allow wicked act to please d doctrinal service by this evil sacrilege.

Chukwuemeka Nwosu
Chukwuemeka Nwosu

Shame on the taliban to target a child. I hope Imra Khan is taking notes. I wonder if his arguments about 'hearts and mind' would work in those of these infidels masking as the taliban.

Jeff Dray
Jeff Dray

Whoever said ignorance is bliss obviously didn't live in this modern era of extremism.

Badly Drawn Dobs
Badly Drawn Dobs

The Gospel According To Islam...according to these deranged individuals

Thet Win
Thet Win

kothetwin07@gmail and kothetwin575@gmail

NimrahGhazanfar
NimrahGhazanfar

UNO has never been able to punish anyone who was out of line! 

NimrahGhazanfar
NimrahGhazanfar

These people who shot her are fundamentalists! And i don't really believe that they follow Islam! they follow what they think Islam teaches i.e their personal views! Stop blaming Islam for some pathetic people who don't have any respect for human life and as far as Pakistan is concerned than I would like to inform you that no country wants to be bombed 24/7 so i suggest you think before accusing the Pak Military of nurturing terrorists.  And women do have rights here! Do you like live under a rock? and as far as religion goes according to Islam it is must for man and woman to get education! 

karur
karur

Thank you for the clarification. My comments were implying that Islam had a problem, rather Islamists who seem to call the shots. The plight of people being bombed 24/7 is unpardonable but does not justify the Taliban shooting a 14 year old!

NimrahGhazanfar
NimrahGhazanfar

Yes it does not and that is what people around the globe are saying! And it includes the Muslim states as well. I fail to understand how people can attack a certain religion when they don't know enough about it!