MALALA YOUSAFZAI: Teen girl shot by the Taliban will be guarded for rest of her life, says Pakistan

DEAN NELSON
THE DAILY TELEGRAPH

A handout picture released by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham on Dec. 8, 2012 shows Asifa Bhutto (right), the daughter of Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari, meeting with Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban Malala Yousafzai in Birmingham, England. Submitted photo/AFP/Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager who was shot by the Taliban because she refused to abandon her campaign for girls’ education, will live under heavy security for the rest of her life, the country’s interior minister said Sunday.

The 15-year-old, who was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman as she took a bus home from school, is recovering in hospital in Britain.

Since the attack in October, a campaign for her to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize has gathered momentum.

Yousafzai has said she wants to return to Pakistan, but she will remain a target for as long as terrorism threatens the country, Rehman Malik, the interior minister, told The Daily Telegraph in Delhi.

He also said the school she attended in Mingora, in the Taliban’s former stronghold of Swat Valley, would continue to bear her name despite protests by some of the pupils who fear it may provoke more terrorist attacks.

An estimated 120 pupils boycotted their classes last week and tore up pictures of the teenage campaigner in protest at the decision to rename the Saidu Sharif Girls College as Government P.G Malala Yousafzai. They set a three-day deadline for the original name to be restored while some voiced resentment that they might face attack while Yousafzai was safe in Britain.

“We want the government to remove the name plates and pictures and portraits of Malala immediately. Taliban have not spared Malala and they were out to destroy everything in her name, including our college,” one pupil said.

Malik said the decision to name the school after Malala would not be reversed and that the tribute was the very least Pakistan could do to honour her courage.

“When I visited her school I was the first one to propose that school in her name and I met the students there, the girls there, and they all clapped when I announced that. So I don’t think this is an issue at all,” he said.

“The people of Mingora and Swat and Pakistan as a nation owe this much to her, so there will be no change of position and the school will continue to be in her name.”

Malik said he was grateful to the British Government for arranging her treatment at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which specializes in treating wounded soldiers, and that doctors there would decide when she was well enough to return to Pakistan.

“She has expressed desire to come back and I’m sure she will come back and don’t think that this kind of terror is going to continue for an indefinite period. You know the actions that we have taken already – the TTP [Pakistani Taliban] has now gone into splinter groups and that was part of our policy.

“I’m quite hopeful that whenever she gets better and she is in a position to move, talk to people, and of course can lead a normal life, she will have lifetime security in view of her courageous stand so I’m sure, inshallah [God willing] she will come back to Pakistan,” he said.

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