Sadly, this perfectly epitomizes the battle for Pakistan’s soul:
A 14-year-old girl, who was awarded Pakistan’s first National Peace Prize for her online diary reporting on the Taliban’s ban on education, was shot and wounded on her way home from school Tuesday.
Malala Yousufzai, a frequent target of death threats, was wounded when gunmen opened fire on her school van in Swat valley, police said.
“She has received two bullets wounds, one in her neck,” said senior police official Gul Afzal Afridi. “She is in critical condition and the doctors are doing their best to save her.”
Malala, a resident of Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan — one of the most conservative regions of the country — wrote about her frustration with the Taliban’s restrictions on female education in her town.
Using the Internet, she reached out to the outside world, taking a stand by writing about her daily battle with extremist militants who used fear and intimidation to force girls to stay at home.
The Taliban have proudly owned up to being terrified of a 14 year old girl and attacking her in response:
Speaking to Dawn.com’s correspondent Zahir Shah Sherazi from an undisclosed destination, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan said that the TTP accepts responsibility of the attack as Malala was propagating anti-Taliban and ‘secular’ thoughts among the youth of the area.
Pakistan desperately needs a million Malala’s right now but that seems increasingly unlikely. And that is precisely what the Taliban was trying to prevent. Will this be the spark that triggers other women and girls to bravely speak out or will the intimidation work? I think I know the answer, and I do not blame them for it, but it does not bode well for Pakistan.
Take a moment to read Malala’s diary if you haven’t already. She willing risked her life to share it with you. When you have finished please share it with someone else.