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Pakistani Taliban leader 'shocked' by Malala attack

2013-07-17 21:23:09

Malala Yousafzai
A friend of the Yousafzai family told the BBC's Orla Guerin the letter was a confused damage control attempt by
the Taliban after Malala's UN speech

A Pakistani Taliban leader has sent a letter to schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, expressing shock that she was shot by Taliban gunmen last year.

The Taliban was universally condemned after gunmen shot Malala in the head.

In his letter to Malala, Adnan Rasheed stops short of apologising but says he wished the attack "had never happened".

He also claims the shooting was not in response to Malala's campaign for girls' education, but because she ran an anti-Taliban "smear campaign".

Malala - who is considered a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize - is credited with bringing the education issue to global attention.

Malala Yousafzai addresses the United Nations

Speaking at UN headquarters in New York last Friday, she said that books and pens scared extremists. She also urged education for all, including "for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists".

Correspondents say Rasheed's letter was an apparent attempt to attract media attention with a view to counter the impact of Malala's speech at the UN.

'Brotherly' emotions

A copy of the letter was obtained by Channel 4 News and other news organisations.

Writing in his "personal capacity", Rasheed said he felt "brotherly" emotions towards Malala because they belong to the "same Yousufzai tribe".

However, he refuses to condemn the attack, saying the judgement on whether it was correct or not should be left to God.

M Ilyas Khan

Adnan Rasheed's "advice" to Malala Yousafzai comes five
days after she held the centre-stage at the United
Nations last Friday.


Even if he has written the letter in personal capacity, it
certainly has the sanction of the TTP - the Pakistani
Taliban group that admitted it attempted to assassinate
the child activist in 2012.


Mr Rasheed is a former non-commissioned officer of the
Pakistan Air Force who was sentenced to death for his
role in a 2003 attempt on the life of former military
ruler, Pervez Musharraf.


In 2012, the TTP attacked a jail in the north-west of the
country, freeing him and hundreds of other prisoners.
He has since appeared in some high-profile TTP videos.


The letter is apparently an attempt to attract media
attention with a view to counter the impact of Malala's
speech at the UN, and to further divide a society where
the educated middle class is already in disagreement
over whether Ms Yousafzai is a hero or an agent of the

Rasheed says he first heard of Malala's work when he was in prison, when the BBC Urdu service broadcast a diary that she wrote.

He says he wished he had been able to "advise" her before the attack, which he describes as an "accident".

The Taliban leader also says that his group is not "against education of any men or women or girls". Instead he claims Malala was targeted because she campaigned to "malign [the Taliban's] efforts to establish the Islamic system".

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

Rasheed finishes by telling Malala to "come back home, adopt the Islamic and Pashtun culture and join any female Islamic madrassa [school], use your pen... and reveal the conspiracy of the tiny elite who want to enslave the whole of humanity".

Malala's family said in a statement that they were aware of the letter but had not received it directly and had no wish to comment on it.

After the shooting, Malala was flown from Pakistan to the UK for treatment, and now lives in Birmingham, England.

Her speech on her 16th birthday at UN headquarters in New York was her first public address since last October's attack.

Malala said she was fighting for the rights of women because "they are the ones who suffer the most".

A quarter of young women around the world have not completed primary school.


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