Share This Page

Taliban renews threat against Pakistani teen

| Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2013, 9:24 p.m.

ISLAMABAD — The Taliban has issued a new threat against Malala Yousafzai, the teenager who was shot in the head by one of its fighters a year ago after she refused to halt her efforts to expose the plight of schoolgirls in northwestern Pakistan.

In a telephone interview late Monday, a top Taliban spokesman said the group will continue to look for opportunities to harm the 16-year-old girl as long as she remains an outspoken critic of efforts to impose strict Islamic law in Pakistan.

The threat was made amid speculation that Yousafzai, who sought refuge in England last year, is a leading contender to win the Nobel Peace Prize when it is announced on Friday. She is already the youngest person ever nominated for the prestigious honor, and if she won, would be only the second Pakistani in history to be recognized by the Nobel Prize committee.

Yousafzai's family and friends say that winning the Nobel Peace Prize would represent a milestone for efforts to draw attention to the problems faced by women and children in Pakistan's male-dominated culture. But some Pakistanis remain skeptical of Yousafzai's motives, highlighting the broader societal split over the country's ideological future.

“Malala has been able to tell the world what is happening to Pakistan and how we are suffering,” said Kashmala Tariq, a former member of Pakistan's National Assembly and frequent critic of the government's policies toward women.

After Yousafzai defied a Taliban campaign to shutter or bomb hundreds of schools in Pakistan's remote Swat Valley, a gunman boarded her school bus on Oct. 9, 2012, and shot her and two of her classmates. Yousafzai survived after being airlifted to London for treatment and within months was one of the world's most recognized humanitarians.

In the past year, Yousafzai has spoken at the United Nations, had a charity for girls named after her, was a runner-up for Time Magazine's 2012 Person of the Year and has been honored by dozens of organizations.

“We feel proud,” said her cousin, Shahid Khan, who lives in the Swat Valley. “She has been a voice for peace, love and education.”

But with Yousafzai in the spotlight this week, including the launch of her autobiography on Tuesday, she is under a renewed threat from Taliban leaders.

In July, a senior Taliban commander wrote an open letter to the teenager, saying he regretted her shooting and asking her to return to Pakistan. On Tuesday, however, the group's spokesman suggested that she will continue to be targeted unless she gives up her “secular ideology.”

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.