Shame on them: Malala criticizes the Taliban in a speech at the UN on July 12 REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
A senior Taliban commander has written to Malala Yousafzai to apologize for militants trying to kill her but offers a rambling justification for shooting the young girl in the head.
The respected British broadcaster Channel 4 claims to have been sent a letter by Adnan Rasheed who penned a response to Malala’s powerful speech at the United Nations last Friday in which she scolded the Taliban for their barbaric attitudes towards girls’ education.
Rasheed first expresses remorse, “when you were attacked it was shocking for me I wished it would never happened” but the Taliban “believe that you were intentionally writing against them and running a smearing campaign to malign their efforts to establish Islamic system.
He claims to be writing in “a personal capacity”, not on behalf of the Tehrik-e-Taliban, of which he is a senior member. Adnan Rasheed was sentenced to death for his role in trying to assassinate then President Pervez Musharraf in December 2003 at the request of Al Qa’eda. Last April he escaped from prison, which is why, he says he did not get an opportunity to write to her to “advise” her so the “accident” would not happen.
If the letter is authentic, then it is a fascinating insight into the militant mindset and of tribal and religious politics in Pakistani society. Rasheed begins by exressing “brotherly emotions” he feels for Malala, 16, who is from the same Pashtun Yousafzai tribe in the Swat Valley and that he read her BBC blog while serving time in jail. But Malala, unlike other schoolchildren, provoked the Taliban, he claims.
“There were thousands of girls who were going to school and college before and after the Taliban insurgency in swat, would you explain why were only you on their hit list???” he writes.
He says that the Taliban and Pakistani army were both to blame for blowing up schools because they were being used as “transit camps” or “hideouts."
“So when something sacred is turned lethal it needs to be eliminated this is the policy of Taliban.”
Malala who recovered from her injuries in a British hospital and is living in England with her parents and two siblings gave a speech at the UN in New York in which she forgave her shooters and said she wanted their children to be educated.
“The extremists are afraid of books and pens,” she said. “The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women.”
Rasheed, who also claimed a global conspiracy by Jews and rambled on about British colonial policy, admonished the young girl for being duped by the west.
“I advise you to come back home, adopt the Islamic and pushtoon culture, join any female Islamic madrassa near your home town, study and learn the book of Allah, use your pen for Islam and plight of Muslim ummah and reveal the conspiracy of tiny elite who want to enslave the whole humanity for their evil agendas in the name of new world order.”
Even if Malala wished to do so it would be difficult. The Taliban have vowed to kill her if she returns home.
Hamida Ghafour is a foreign affairs reporter at The Star. She has lived and worked in the Middle East and Asia for more than 10 years and is the author of a book on Afghanistan. Follow her on Twitter @HamidaGhafour