Sunday, October 14, 2012
Tens of thousands of Pakistanis held a demonstration in Karachi on Sunday in support of a 14-year-old human rights campaigner and peace activist shot and critically wounded by the Taliban for promoting girls' education and criticizing the extremist group. The demonstration was the largest by far since Malala Yousufzai and two classmates were shot on October 9 while returning home from school, The Associated Press reported. The demonstration was organized by the most powerful political party in Karachi, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM). The party's chief, Altaf Hussain, addressed the audience by telephone from London, where is he in self-imposed exile. Hussain called the Taliban gunmen who attacked Yousufzai "beasts" and said the shooting was an attack on "the ideology of Pakistan." Hussain addressed the audience by telephone from London, where is he in self-imposed exile. “Malala Yousufzai is a beacon of knowledge. She is the daughter of the nation,” he added. The demonstrators carried the young girl's picture and banners praising her bravery. Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said that the militants attacked Malala because she was anti-Taliban, adding that she would not be spared. "She was pro-West, she was speaking against Taliban," Ehsan said by telephone from a secret location. "She was young but she was promoting Western culture in Pashtun areas," he said, referring to the main ethnic group in northwest Pakistan and southern and eastern Afghanistan. Most members of the Afghan Taliban and the TTP come from the Pashtun community. It is a society where there is great opposition to education for females and a very low level of literacy. On Saturday, a Pakistani military spokesman said the 14-year-old had shown signs of improvement by moving her limbs. "The sedation given to Malala was reduced today so that neurosurgeons could do their clinical assessment and as a result of it Malala responded and moved her hands and feet," Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa told reporters in Rawalpindi, where Malala is being treated in a military hospital. "It is a positive development," Bajwa added. "As per doctors, (the) condition of Malala is stable." Two other young girls, who were also injured when the militants attacked Malala’s school bus, were "also being taken care of at places where they can get best treatment,” he stated. Earlier on Saturday, doctors treating Malala said they were hopeful because the 14-year-old felt pain, a sign of recovery for someone who is on a ventilator. The United Arab Emirates plans to send a specialized aircraft to serve as an ambulance for the 14-year-old in case doctors decide to send her abroad for treatment, a Pakistani official said Sunday. The UAE Embassy in Islamabad could not immediately be reached for comment. On Friday, at mosques, churches, and schools across the country, Pakistanis observed a day of prayers for the speedy recovery of the young activist. In 2008 and 2009, the TTP banned female education in the Swat Valley, depriving more than 40,000 girls of education. TTP militants destroyed hundreds of schools in the valley during a campaign of violence over the course of the two years, which led to a dramatic decline in the number of girls enrolled in schools in the region. In 2009, Malala Yousufzai rose to fame for writing about life in the Swat Valley under the TTP. She later received Pakistan’s National Peace Award for bravery and was also nominated for an international children's peace award.
Imran Khan says Taliban's 'holy war' in Afghanistan is justified by Islamic law Pakistani politician's comments at hospital that treated shooting victim Malala Yousafzai outrage Afghanistan's governmentHamid Karzai's government has lashed out at Imran Khan after the former Pakistani cricket star, now a politician, said the Taliban were fighting a "holy war" in Afghanistan, that was justified by Islamic law. Speaking after visiting a hospital in Peshawar where Malala Yousafzai – the 14-year-old activist shot in the head by the Taliban for supporting girls' education – was treated last week, Khan told reporters insurgents in Afghanistan were fighting a "jihad". Citing a verse from the Qur'an he said: "It is very clear that whoever is fighting for their freedom is fighting a jihad … The people who are fighting in Afghanistan against the foreign occupation are fighting a jihad," he said, according to a video of remarks to journalists. Politicians in Afghanistan have reacted with disbelief, with one parliamentarian even suggesting Khan should be arrested. The Ulema Council, a grouping of senior clerics, declared Khan's comments "unIslamic". A Kabul foreign ministry spokesman said Khan was "either profoundly and dangerously ignorant about the reality in Afghanistan or he has ill will against the Afghan people". "Our children are killed on daily basis, civilians killed and our schools hospitals and infrastructure attacked on a daily basis," he said. "To call any of that jihad is profoundly wrong and misguided." Karzai has written to all of Pakistan's political leaders, including Khan, saying "we must ask why we have been unable to counter the terrorism that is attacking our religious, our people, and the promise of a better future for our children". Khan has also courted criticism by saying he will not publicly name the Taliban while criticising the men who attempted to kill Yousafzai because he feared it would put his party supporters at risk. The row with Kabul highlights the awkward political situation Khan has found himself in recent days. He has long blamed the rise of the Taliban in the country on the US, saying their military operations in Afghanistan and the CIA drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal belt is responsible for the upsurge in militancy. But his populist position has been challenged by the almost unprecedented public anger against the Pakistani Taliban triggered by the attempt to kill Yousafzai as she sat in a van with her classmates in Swat, last Tuesday. While many observers fear the mood of national outrage will ultimately change little, the country's media continues to cover the saga intensively while the country's powerful military chief called on the nation to unite and stand up to fight against extremism. The foreign minister has even suggested the attack might be a turning point for a country that has long struggled to muster support for a decisive push against militants. On Sunday, thousands of people attended a rally in Karachi organised by the Muttahida Qaumi movement, the dominant political party in the southern city. Yousafzai is unconscious and in intensive care in a military hospital in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. A military spokesman said her condition was improving and that no decision had been made as to whether she should be sent overseas, despite an offer from the United Arab Emirates to supply an air ambulance. The local media continued to focus on her condition despite government warnings that the Pakistani Taliban, apparently angered by criticism of the attack on Yousafzai, has ordered attacks on journalists.
BY: Gordon BrownFormer Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; UN Special Envoy for Global EducationFamous world sites from the Niagara falls to the London Eye have turned to pink today to mark the world's first International Day of Girl Child, but there is an extra reason why the world should wear pink -- to signal support for Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl shot by the Taliban for demanding that she and other girls go to school. As she fights for her life in a hospital, Malala, who wore a pink dress to school to defy the Taliban and has written a BBC Urdu blog describing how she was banned from school for being a girl, is rightly becoming the icon for 32 million girls worldwide who are out of primary school -- and for the global fight to ensure by 2015 the right of every girl to an education. Today, the girl from the Swat valley of Pakistan, who was forced to flee her village when the Taliban closed her school, should be adopted by the world. As she fights the Taliban -- who labelled her campaign for girls' education an 'obscenity' -- her courage should be celebrated and we should think of her as everyone's daughter. Giving messages of support for Malala from all over the world, I have asked Pakistan's President Zardari to pledge that Malala's suffering will not be in vain. A few days ago I received a promise from him that his government will now do everything -- providing teachers, resources and financial help for families -- to get girls to school. We agreed that the office of the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education would send a delegation to Pakistan to agree practical proposals to turn the promise of education for every girl into a reality by the end of 2015, the deadline for achieving the Millennium Development Goal of education for every child. Three years ago, aged 11, Malala told us in a blog, "I was afraid of going to school because the Taliban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools." She described how, "On my way from school to home I heard a man saying, 'I will kill you.'" Banned from school, she told the world that "my real name means 'grief stricken.'" Now as her name is broadcast across the world as an icon for courage and hope, I am determined that her shooting produces much more than just the talk of change. When I met President Zardari we agreed to draw up a plan to put Pakistan's five million out-of-school girls and boys into the classroom. A week before, I also met the new Pakistani foreign minister and finance minister and pledged global support if they would move further and faster to achieve education for all. I have talked to the President about expanding the cash support scheme organized by the Benazir Income Support Program that incentivizes families to get their children, especially their daughters, to school. At the same time we talked of expanding the UK-supported project in the Punjab that has already sent an additional one million children to school by insisting on attendance, teacher quality and proper administration. But Pakistan needs a step-change in delivery of education by each of its provinces, who are responsible for schools, if we are to have a chance of meeting the Millennium Development Goal that every child is enrolled in school by 2015. Round the world the campaign for girls' education -- a campaign that Malala now symbolizes -- is fighting evils which prevent us realizing our goal. Child marriage takes 10 million girls a year out of school and into marriages they did not choose; child labor prevents 15 million girls and boys under 14 going to school; the conscription of child soldiers takes thousands upon thousands more girls out of the classroom and onto the battlefield. Yet it can cost just two dollars a week year to educate a child in the poorest parts of Africa and Asia -- and so we have to fight the prejudice that downgrades girls to second-class citizens who are not to be heard and rarely seen either. Pakistan needs to be shocked into action, with the Taliban shamed and forced into accepting the basic freedoms of every girl. From this International Day of the Girl Child forward, Malala's fight for life should become the whole world's fight for not only establishing every girl's right to education but also achieving within three years a school place for the neglected 32 million.
AFPAfghan President Hamid Karzai has written letters to top political and religious leaders in Pakistan, denouncing the Taliban attack on a Pakistani teenager who is promoting girls' education and asking them to help battle extremism in both countries. Malala Yousufzai, 14, was seriously wounded when a Taliban militant shot her in the head on Oct. 9 on her way home from school. She is widely respected for being an activist for girls' education in the Swat Valley where she lives, and the rest of Pakistan. The shooting set off an international outcry against extremists. Karzai's office said in a statement issued late Saturday that the president wrote that the attack on Yousufzai indicated that both Afghanistan and Pakistan need to take "coordinated and serious" steps to fight terrorism and extremism. Karzai wrote that he views the shooting as an attack on Afghanistan's girls as well. "It is a deplorable event that requires serious attention," Karzai wrote. Those upset about the shooting should not be silenced, he wrote, and both Afghans and Pakistanis need to cooperate and fight with strong resolve against terrorism and extremism so that the "children of Afghanistan and Pakistan" can be saved from oppression. Karzai has been pushing Islamabad to take more action against militant groups that he says hide out in Pakistan and then cross into Afghanistan to conduct attacks on Afghan officials and security forces and on international forces. The letters were sent to more than a dozen political and religious leaders, including Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari; Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf; Nawaz Sharif, the leader of Pakistan's Muslim League Party; Qazi Hussain Ahmed, leader of the Islamist party Jamaat-e-Islami; Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, who heads the Pakistan Muslim League-Q; and Imran Khan, a cricket star who leads the Tehreek-e-Insaf party.
Officials say 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai, who was shot by Taliban gunmen, is in a stable condition in hospital, as students continue to protest against the attack. Sarah Charlton reports
BY TRUDY RUBINPakistanis have united in outrage over the Taliban's attack on 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who campaigned for girls' education and became a prominent symbol of defiance against Islamist rule. Gunmen boarded a school bus, asked for Malala by name, and shot her in the head (as I write this, she is in critical condition). A Pakistani Taliban spokesman defended the attack, justifying it because Malala was promoting "enlightened moderation." He said they would attack her again if she recovered. So, as Malala fights for life, I have a question: Will this atrocity finally push Pakistan's military and ISI intelligence agency to reject the militancy that pervades the country? Will Pakistan's leaders acknowledge they can't fight certain Taliban groups while providing a haven for other groups that are useful tools against their archenemy, India? Malala's story shows how shortsighted, indeed suicidal, that approach is for Pakistan, where militants want to take over a nuclear-armed country. As the Pakistani daily the News put it after the shooting: "Malala Yousafzai is in critical condition today and so is Pakistan." I have a personal interest in Malala's case. In November 2009, I visited the beautiful Swat valley, where she and her family lived, and which had fallen prey to the Taliban. While there, I had a moving conversation with Malala's father, Ziauddin Yousafzai - a human-rights campaigner who ran an independent school for girls. With its mountains and waterfalls, Swat had once been a tourist destination where generations of Pakistanis went for their honeymoons. But in 2008, a vicious group of Taliban moved in from the adjacent tribal areas and took over the valley. They shut down girls' schools, including the one run by Yousafzai, cut off the heads of anyone who challenged them, and murdered women. At the time, 11-year-old Malala started writing an anonymous blog for the BBC about life under the Taliban. The residents felt abandoned by their political leaders. Indeed, during a visit to Pakistan in April 2009, I had watched in amazement as the parliament endorsed a deal with the leader of the Swat militants that would have conceded them the valley. The only thing that saved the people of Swat was that the Taliban started marching toward Islamabad a week after the deal was signed. The parliament quickly rescinded the pact, and the Pakistani army mounted a massive assault on the militants, pushing them back. By the time I arrived in November, the militants were no longer visible, but people there were still nervous. They felt trapped between the militants and the military. Local merchants were convinced the Taliban couldn't have grown so strong if the military and ISI hadn't coddled them. "When the dragon becomes too large," one told me, asking for anonymity, "it eats its own. There are still some Pakistani agencies [meaning the ISI] who have a soft spot for the Taliban." I sat in the garden of a local architect's home, talking with prominent Swat civic leaders, including Malala's father. He told me that even after the army supposedly vanquished the Taliban and he went to reopen his school, he was afraid the Taliban would kill him. He slept every night in a different house. "We had terrorists in our valley," he told me. "They wanted to negate our right to culture and poetry, and they wanted to destroy the special musical heritage of our valley. They want to impose their culture on us." Then Yousafzai got to the point that most disturbed him: Pakistan's political leaders were failing to tell their own people that the Taliban presented a mortal threat, and could only drag the country backward. When it came to fighting the Taliban, he said, "Pakistan's religious parties, even Imran Khan [the famous cricket player turned politician], all say it's America's war, not my war. How can they say this if my children are being killed in Swat?" This brave man was referring then to the female students from his school who were at risk from the Taliban. Today it is his own daughter who is at death's door. Even now I wonder whether Malala's sacrifice is enough to wake the country to the threat it faces. Pakistani journalists tell me the country's religious parties, while denouncing the attack on Malala, have not condemned the Taliban by name. Nor has Imran Khan, who offered to pay for Malala's medical care but who still talks of deals with the militants. Pakistan's top general rushed to Malala's bedside. But Pakistan still harbors the Afghan Taliban leaders who are responsible for the death of many thousands of civilians and want to take over Afghanistan after U.S. troops leave. And Pakistan harbors terrorist groups that murder Pakistani Shiites, Ahmadis, and Christians Perhaps the attack on Malala will jolt her country into a new reality. I really hope so. But it won't happen unless Pakistani generals and politicians display the same courage as this young girl.
The Express TribuneThough she remains far from a complete recovery, Malala Yousafzai’s condition showed some improvement on Saturday, according to her doctors and family members. Military sources stationed at the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) said doctors treating the 14-year-old activist were hopeful after she showed response to pain. They quoted the head surgeon as saying this heralded recovery for someone on ventilator support. More than 31 hours have passed since doctors announced that the next 48 hours would be critical for Malala’s life. She remains confined to the ventilator, but military sources said her condition and vital signs remain satisfactory. The final decision to remove her from the ventilator and shift her to Germany for treatment will be taken on Sunday morning (today) in a high-level meeting to discuss her latest test reports, according to the sources. After Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban, the surgeons operating on her had expressed fear of possible brain damage. However, all of her medical reports came out clear. Earlier, doctors had said she had a 70% chance of survival. Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Major General Asim Saleem Bajwa also confirmed to the media that Malala is showing signs of improvement since Saturday. Talking to The Express Tribune, her brother Mehmud, too, said that, while she is still unconscious due to heavy medication intended to relieve her from severe pain, her responses showed some improvement.
http://www.radio.gov.pk3 days national Polio Immunization Campaign will be launched on Monday to vaccinate children aged less than five years. A three day national Polio Immunization Campaign will be launched on Monday to vaccinate children aged less than five years. A special ceremony will be organized at Aiwan-e-Sadr in Islamabad for launching the campaign. President Asif Ali Zardari‚ Provincial Governors‚ Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir and all the Chief Secretaries will attend the ceremony.