Taliban gunmen in Pakistan shot a 14-year old girl Malala Yousafzai in the head and neck. Her offense? They claimed that she had ‘promoted secularism’ on the blog or diary she wrote for the BBC starting in 2009 when she was just 11. But all she was doing was chronicling the anxiety and tensions of a child living in a danger zone. She had written under a pen name but her identity was exposed.
Canadian journalist Rick Westhead had met with her prior to the shooting and had been struck by the remarkable courage and maturity in one so young.
Surgery on her has reportedly been successful in removing the bullets but the militants have warned that if she recovers they will return to finish the job.
These barbarians may have finally gone too far. There has been outrage about this act even from people who normally tread gingerly when it comes to the Taliban.
The attack sparked outrage among many Pakistanis, who gathered in several cities for anti-Taliban protests and held prayers for the girl’s recovery.
Pakistani politicians led by the president and prime minister condemned the shooting, which the US state department has called barbaric and cowardly.
President Asif Ali Zardari said the attack would not shake Pakistan’s resolve to fight Islamist militants or the government’s determination to support women’s education.
In a statement, army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani said the Taliban had “failed to grasp that she is not only an individual, but an icon of courage”.
Schools in the Swat Valley closed on Wednesday in protest at the attack, and schoolchildren in other parts of the country prayed for the girl’s recovery.
Rallies have taken place in Multan and elsewhere to protest against the shooting of Malala
Protests were held in Peshawar, Multan and in Malala’s hometown of Mingora, and another rally was expected in Lahore.
The Pakistani media has joined in the chorus of condemnation, with one of them saying that such incidents justify international criticism of Pakistan.
Indeed they do.