Tuesday, October 09, 2012
Taliban shoot 14-year old human rights activist
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - Taliban gunmen in Pakistan shot and seriously wounded on Tuesday a 14-year-old schoolgirl who rose to fame for speaking out against the militants, authorities said.
Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head and neck when gunmen fired on her school bus in the Swat valley, northwest of the capital, Islamabad. Two other girls were also wounded, police said.
Yousufzai became famous for speaking out against the Pakistani Taliban at a time when even the government seemed to be appeasing the hardline Islamists. The government agreed to a ceasefire with the Taliban in Swat in early 2009, effectively recognizing insurgent control of the valley whose lakes and mountains had long been a tourist attraction.
The Taliban set up courts, executed residents and closed girls' schools, including the one that Yousufzai attended. A documentary team filmed her weeping as she explained her ambition to be a doctor.
"My friend came to me and said, 'for God's sake, answer me honestly, is our school going to be attacked by the Taliban?'," Yousufzai, then 11, wrote in a blog published by the BBC.
"During the morning assembly we were told not to wear colorful clothes as the Taliban would object."
The army launched an offensive and retook control of Swat later that year, and Yousufzai later received the country's highest civilian award. She was also nominated for international awards for child activists. Since then, she has received numerous threats. On Tuesday, gunmen arrived at her school and asked for her by name, witnesses told police. Yousufzai was shot when she came out of class and went to a bus.
Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said his group was behind the shooting. "She was pro-West, she was speaking against Taliban and she was calling President Obama her idol," Ehsan said by telephone from an undisclosed location.
"She was young but she was promoting Western culture in Pashtun areas," he said, referring the main ethnic group in northwest Pakistan and southern and eastern Afghanistan. Most members of the Taliban come from conservative Pashtun tribes.
Doctors were struggling to save Yousufzai, said Lal Noor, a doctor at the Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital in the Swat valley's main town of Mingora. (Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Robert Birsel)
I realize it might be boorish to place this in a partisan context, but when a courageous, young Pakistani woman risks death calling President Obama her idol, our president is doing something right. It's probably not just the President, but also the two strong women with whom he is associated: His life partner, Michelle, & his Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton.
I'm hardly in full accord with Obama's Afghanistan policy, the surge or the withdrawal timetable. But it was the Cheney/Bush administration that put Afghanistan on the backburner & invaded Iraq just as we had driven the Taliban from power & sent their broken, humiliated remnants fleeing into the hills. We didn't finish the job, which was to eliminate Bin Laden, quickly hand over Kabul to whatever inevitable corrupt regime was coalescing there, & get the hell out.
Under Cheney/Bush, America did project to Muslims around the world, a very diverse population by no means represented only by Iranian radical Shiites or Saudi Wahhabi fundamentalists, that American power was indeed waging a war on all of Islam. They obliterated whatever good will had been generated by President Clinton's defense of the Bosnian Muslims, & global sympathy for the United States following the 9/11 attacks. Obama was stuck with that, tried as best he could, given the pressures upon him, to allow the Arab Spring to follow whatever course of self-determination people in the Arab world were choosing for it. One young freedom-loving voice in non-Arab Pakistan admired him.
Mitt Romney can never inspire young people in the same way, here & around the world. He has allied himself with the American Taliban. He has gathered around him the same "nation-building" neocon lunatic ideologues that gave us weapons of mass destruction in Iraq & changed their tune only after it was exposed as an evil lie. In league with the corporate- war profiteers these neocons are at this very moment conspiring a war against Iran as one of Mitt's first acts of "foreign policy."