14-year-old Pakistani activist shot by Taliban fighting for her life
A 14-year-old Pakistani human rights campaigner and peace activist who was shot in the head and neck by Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militants in northern Pakistan is fighting for her life.
TTP gunmen shot Malala Yousufzai, who became a national star for speaking out against the extremists and promoting education for girls and women, on Tuesday in the Swat Valley of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, northwest of Islamabad.
Two other young girls were also injured when the militants attacked Yousufzai’s school bus.
In 2008 and 2009, the TTP banned female education in the Swat Valley, depriving more than 40,000 girls of education. TTP militants destroyed hundreds of schools in the valley during a campaign of violence over the course of the two years, which led to a dramatic decline in the number of girls enrolled in schools in the region.
In 2009, Yousufzai rose to fame for writing about life in the Swat Valley under the TTP. She later received Pakistan’s National Peace Award for bravery and was also nominated for an international children’s peace award.
Doctors treating Yousafzai have asked the Pakistani government to send her abroad for treatment to save her life.
They said the bullet, which hit her head, had pierced down to her backbone. Swelling on the scull does not allow surgery at the present time, the physicians added.
“In such a condition, she immediately needs a sophisticated surgical procedure, which is not possible in the country,” the doctors stated.
Late on Tuesday, Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari directed the relevant authorities to make arrangements for Yousafzai to travel abroad for medical treatment.
According to the president’s spokesperson, Zardari’s directive is being implemented.
TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said that the militants attacked Yousafzai because she was anti-Taliban, adding that she would not be spared.
“She was pro-West, she was speaking against Taliban,” Ehsan said by telephone from a secret location.
“She was young but she was promoting Western culture in Pashtun areas,” he said, referring to the main ethnic group in northwest Pakistan and southern and eastern Afghanistan.
Most members of the Afghan Taliban and the TTP come from the Pashtun community. It is a society where there is great opposition to education for females and a very low level of literacy.
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