Malala Yousafzai: Reward offered for arrest of attackers

Malala Yousafzai began her blog at the age of 11

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Pakistani officials have offered a 10m rupee ($105,000; £66,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of the attackers of a prominent teenage rights campaigner.

Malala Yousafzai, 14, is recovering from surgery after being shot on Tuesday in north-western Swat Valley.

The Taliban said they had shot her because she had "promoted secularism", and that they would target her again.

Protests against the shooting have been held in several Pakistani cities.

Malala Yousafzai is still unconscious in hospital in Peshawar, where she has been visited by army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

Mr Malik said the "whole gang" who carried out the attack had been identified and said the nation "will not let them run away, we will catch and punish them".

Gen Kayani said it was time to "stand up to fight the propagators of such barbaric mindset and their sympathisers".

Analysis

Even if Malala Yousafzai survives, life is not going to be the same for her and her family. No place in Pakistan is safe for people targeted by militant groups. She may have to live under state security or in asylum abroad. In either case, her life and her ability to campaign for girls' education in north-western Pakistan will be severely limited.

Malala Yousafzai rose to fame because of her innocent but courageous desire to attend school, which translated into a one-girl campaign of resistance when Taliban captured Swat valley in 2009 and ordered girls' schools closed. Several hundred in Swat and neighbouring Bajaur and Mohmand were destroyed. Only a few in urban areas have been rebuilt.

The government's inability to rebuild is matched by its ambivalence towards the Taliban, which has enabled them to carry out acts of sabotage with impunity. The question is, will it change now? The attempt on Malala Yousafzai's life has shocked and angered the nation, and reports from parliament suggest a wider anti-Taliban consensus might be in the works - something Pakistan's fractious politicians have rarely achieved before.

"The cowards who attacked Malala and her fellow students have shown time and again how little regard they have for human life and how low they can fall in their cruel ambition to impose their twisted ideology," he said in a statement.

He said the armed forces refused to "bow before terror" and would fight on against the Taliban, "regardless of the cost".

Condition 'improving'

Malala Yousafzai was just 11 when she started writing a diary for BBC Urdu about life under the Taliban militants who had taken control of the Swat Valley in 2007 and ordered girls' schools to close.

Writing under the pen-name Gul Makai, she exposed the suffering caused by the militants and particularly focused on her attempts to continue her education.

The Taliban were ousted from Swat in 2009, but her family said they had regularly received death threats.

They believed she would be safe among her own community, but on Tuesday, she was stopped as she returned home from school in Mingora, in north-western Swat, and shot in the head.

Two other girls were also injured, one of whom remained in a critical condition on Wednesday.

Malala Yousafzai's family said her condition was stable after she underwent surgery to remove a bullet lodged in her shoulder.

A decision would be made in the next 48 hours over whether to fly her abroad for treatment, they said.

The news of the bounty was announced in Peshawar by the information minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, Mian Iftikhar Hussain.

Local media quoted him as saying Malala was an icon of peace, urging the world to pray for her recovery.

'Threatened by empowerment'

The attack on the teenager has been widely condemned in Pakistan and around the world.

Start Quote

We were afraid the Taliban might throw acid on our faces or might kidnap us. They were barbarians, they could do anything”

End Quote Malala Yousafzai

President Asif Ali Zardari said it would not shake Pakistan's resolve to fight Islamist militants or the government's determination to support women's education.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at a gathering of the American Girl Scouts movement, said Malala Yousafzai had been "very brave in standing up for the rights of girls" and that the attackers had been "threatened by that kind of empowerment".

Schools in the Swat Valley closed on Wednesday in protest at the attack, and schoolchildren in other parts of the country prayed for the girl's recovery.

Protests were held in Peshawar, Multan and in Malala's hometown of Mingora and in Lahore. Those taking part praised the girl's bravery, while many condemned the attack as un-Islamic.

Saeeda Diep, an organiser of the Lahore protest, said all Pakistanis should "come together and raise their voices against such acts".

"If they do not do this, then they should mentally prepare themselves for their own children's fate to be like Malala's," she said.

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