10/15/2012, 00.00
PAKISTAN - GREAT BRITAIN
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Malala Yousafzai to be treated in England. Her condition is critical, Christians in prayer

by Jibran Khan
The 14 year old Pakistani activist needs more specific medical treatment. Fears for her life, after an initial cautious optimism. Nation gathers around the girl. A candlelight vigil in the Cathedral of Lahore. Bishop of Islamabad: the attack against her, a cowardly act, and sign of profound weakness and fear.

Islamabad (AsiaNews) - Malala Yousafzai, the 14 year old Pakistani activist victim of a Taliban attack in recent days is going to be transferred to Britain for more specific medical treatment, according to army sources said in Islamabad.  The young girl needs of treatment "integrated care" in order to heal. After an emergency surgery to limit the damage from the bullet to the head, following which doctors considered her condition "stable", she was admitted to a military hospital in Rawalpindi where her situation has, however, become increasingly "critical ". Hence the decision to send her to Europe, thanks to the financial contribution of the Government of the United Arab Emirates, where she will be welcomed in a specialized center; meanwhile the nation - and the entire international community - continue to pray for her, for a prompt and complete recovery.

On 9 October Malala Yousafzai - who has won national awards for her social commitment in favor of female education - was the victim of a Taliban attack in the Swat Valley, a mountainous area in the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on the border with Afghanistan, stronghold of Islamic extremists opposed to the education of women. The girl was shot while on board the school bus that was taking her home, after morning lessons. So far, investigators have detained four persons held responsible for having taken part in various capacities in the attack. In all nearly 100 people have been stopped, most of them released after the payment of bail.

Meanwhile, support is building across Pakistan for the girl, whose life is still in danger, with prayers for a full recovery. Human rights activists, members of civil society and professional organizations, including Masihi Foundation and Life for All have condemned the attack, describing her as a "symbol of resistance" against the folly of extremists despite her young age. Even the local Catholic community has been mobilized, promoting a candlelight vigil - in the Cathedral of Lahore - and prayer vigils in several parts of the country. Speaking to AsiaNews, the bishop of Islamabad Msgr. Rufin Anthony said that "targeting a child is the most vile and cowardly act" and is a sign of "profound weakness and fear" of a 14 year old girl. The prelate held a special prayer vigil for the "brave" teenager and noted "the irony" that the attack against her took place in the week that celebrated the International Day for Women and Girls.


The girl became famous in 2009 at the age of 11, with her blog on the BBC's Urdu site in which she denounced the attacks by Pakistani Islamists against girls and women's educational institutions, to prevent them from studying and emancipation. Within her virtual diary, Malala bore witness to the cruelty of the Taliban and the violence through which they maintain power, terrorizing the local population.

The northwestern border is considered a stronghold of the Taliban, so that in some areas Shariah and the Islamic Courts are active, called in to judge disputes, as well as social behaviors and morality. There are hundreds of schools - even Christian - that have been closed in the Swat Valley, jeopardizing the education of tens of thousands of students and the work of about 8 thousand female teachers.

The education of the new generations is one of the key ways for the government to overcome poverty and to ensure genuine development in the nation, as outlined in a special AsiaNews dossier (see Education can stop the Taliban in Pakistan). Among the few realities in the area for some time, a group of Sinhalese Carmelite nuns women dedicated to education (see AsiaNews 22/06/2012 Sinhalese Carmelites educate girls in Pakistan), however, the sisters had to leave after a year and a half because of threats from Islamic fundamentalists.

 

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