Taliban Sends Letter to Malala

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A senior Pakistani Taliban commander has written to Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist shot by members of the jihai group, accusing her of "smearing" them and urging her to return home and join a madrassa (seminary).

The letter, sent directly to CNN, was a response to Malala’s recent speech at the UN. The network said that could not confirm the authenticity of the letter, but that “its validity has been generally accepted by Pakistani intelligence officials.”

Gunmen from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) shot Malala, who just turned 16, in the head in her home town in Swat region (the country's northwest), where she campaigned for the right of girls to go to school. The Taliban gunmen jumped on the school bus she was riding on, shouted her name, scaring other girls into identifying her and shot her in the head. The attack sparked worldwide condemnation and caused massive protests in Pakistan.

In an open letter Adnan Rashid, a former air force member turned TTP cadre, said he personally wished the attack had not happened, but accused her of running a "smear campaign" against the militants.

Rashid was allegedly involved in an attack on General Musharraf in 2003 and was sentenced to death by a military court. He was among 384 prisoners who escaped from the Central Jail at Bannu in northwest Pakistan in April 2012 after it was attacked by scores of Taliban fighters.

"It is amazing that you are shouting for education, you and the UNO (UN) is pretending that you were shot due to education, although this is not the reason … not the education but your propaganda was the issue," Rashid wrote.

"What you are doing now, you are using your tongue on the behest of the others."

He accused Malala of seeking to promote an education system begun by the British colonialists to produce "Asians in blood but English in taste" and said students should study Islam and not what it called the "satanic or secular curriculum."

"I advise you to come back home, adopt the Islamic and Pashtan 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 (community)," Rashid wrote.

Malala and her family are currently in Britain, where she was flown for treatment after the Taliban attack. In her speech at the UN, her first appearance since the attack, she pledged to keep working for the education of girls.

She said she was not against anyone and wanted "education for the sons and daughters of all the Taliban and all the terrorists and extremists."

Malala said, "I do not even hate the Taliban who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hands and he stands in front of me, I would not shoot him."

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Meira Svirsky

Meira Svirsky is the editor of ClarionProject.org

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