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Taliban leader writes to Malala, expresses 'shock'

Letter urges teenager to return to Pakistan
Taliban leader writes to Malala, expresses 'shock'

Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani teenager shot by the Taliban in October 2012 (Andrew Burton / Getty Images North America / AFP)

Published: July 18, 2013 04:36 AM GMT
Updated: July 17, 2013 06:28 PM GMT

A Pakistani Taliban leader has expressed shock at the attack last year on Malala Yousufzai, the 16-year-old education and women’s rights activist who was shot in the head and neck in an assassination attempt.

“When you were attacked it was shocking for me and I wished it would never have happened and that I had advised you before the Taliban attacked you,” reads a letter addressed to Malala, and signed off by Adnan Rasheed, a member of the banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

“I advise you to come back, adopt the Islamic and Pushtoon culture, join any of the female Islamic madrassas near your home town, study and learn the book of Allah, use your pen for Islam to bring the plight of Muslim ummah to light and reveal the conspiracy of the tiny elite who want to enslave humanity for their own evil agendas in the name of new world order,” he wrote.

Rasheed was among a group of inmates who escaped from jail in Bannu last year. He had been sentenced to death by a military court for the attempted assassination of former Pakistani president General Pervez Musharraf in December 2003.

He said he had wanted to warn her to cease her activism, but was unable to because of his detention. “I was thinking how to approach you with a real or pseudo name, all my emotions were brotherly for you because we belong to same Yousafzai tribe.”

He said the letter, which runs to more than 1,800 words, was written in a personal capacity.

In it, he refuted Malala’s claim that she was targeted by the Taliban for her support for education, claiming instead that she was attacked for intentionally running a smear campaign against the group.

“First of all, the Taliban never attacked you because of going to school or because of the fact that you were an education lover. The Taliban or Mujahideen are not against the education of any man or woman.”

He wrote that the teenager had attempted to “malign their [Taliban] efforts to establish an Islamic system in Swat. Your writings were provocative.” Shortly after the attack, the Taliban stated that it still intended to kill her.

Malala, who sought refuge in the UK, where she remains, has not responded to the letter.

Rasheed also pointed to controversial drone attacks by the US in the Pakistan Swat Valley, which observers have warned could encourage anti-American sentiment and fuel further radicalization.

“I ask you and be honest in reply, if you were shot by Americans in a drone attack, would the world have ever heard updates on your medical status?

“Would you be called ‘daughter of the nation'? Would the media make a fuss about you? Would General Kiyani have come to visit you and would the world media be constantly reporting on you? Would you be called to the UN? Would a Malala day be announced?”

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