Malala Yousafzai urged by Taliban to come back, join madrassa



Islamabad: Days after Malala Yousufzai made a passionate appeal at the UN for the education of children, the Taliban on Wednesday asked the teenage activist to return to Pakistan and join a madrassa in the restive northwest.

Adnan Rashid, a Taliban fighter wanted for an attempt to assassinate former President Pervez Musharraf, wrote a letter to Malala, who was shot in the head in a militant attack last year.

"I advise you to come back home, adopt the Islamic and Pashtun culture, join any female Islamic madrassa near your hometown, study and learn the book of Allah, use your pen for Islam and the plight of Muslim ummah and reveal the conspiracy of the tiny elite who want to enslave the whole humanity for their evil agendas in the name of a new world order," Rashid wrote.

The over 2,000-word letter was dated July 15 but it was not immediately clear from where it was issued. It was released to the media today.

Rashid, a former air force personnel, tried to justify the attack on 16-year-old Malala by claiming that she was involved in an "anti-Taliban campaign".

"Taliban never attacked you because of going to school or you were an education lover; also please mind that Taliban or mujahideen are not against the education of any men or women or girls," he wrote.

"Taliban believe that you were intentionally writing against them and running a smear campaign to malign their efforts to establish Islamic system in Swat and your writings were provocative," he added.

Rashid further said the militants were not solely responsible for the destruction of schools, which he claimed were used by the Pakistan Army as barracks and transit camps.

He referred to Malala's speech at the UN on Friday and claimed that she was playing into the "hand of enemies".

"You are using your tongue at the behest of others and you must know that if the pen is mightier than the sword, then the tongue is sharper and the injury of a sword can be healed but the injury of the tongue never heals, and in the wars a tongue is more destructive than any weapon," he wrote.

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

Malala and her family are currently in Britain, where she was flown for treatment after the Taliban attack. In her speech at the UN, 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 Talib who shot me. Even if there is a gun in my hands and he stands in front of me, I would not shoot him."

PTI