KHYBER-PAKHTUNKHWA, PAKISTAN – A senior Pakistani Taliban commander has written to Malala Yousafzai, the teenage education activist shot by militants, accusing her of “smearing” them and of promoting “satanic” values, while urging her to return home.
Taliban gunmen shot Malala, now 16, in the head in her hometown in Swat last October after she had campaigned for the right for girls to go to school. She made a powerful speech to the U.N. on Friday in her first public appearance since the near-fatal attack, vowing to continue her struggle for education and not be silenced by the militants.
In an open letter released Wednesday, Adnan Rasheed, a former air force member turned Taliban member, said he personally wished the attack had not happened, but accused her of running a “smearing campaign” against the militants.
“When you were attacked it was shocking for me,” Rasheed wrote in English. “I wished it would never happened (sic) and I had advised you before.”
But he added, “Taliban believe that you were intentionally writing against them and running a smearing campaign to malign their efforts to establish Islamic system in Swat and your writings were provocative.
“. . . It is amazing that you are shouting for education, you and the UNO (United Nations) is pretending that you were shot due to education, although this is not the reason . . . not the education but your propaganda was the issue,” he continued.
“What you are doing now, you are using your tongue on the behest of the others.”
The letter was sent to reporters in northwest Pakistan and its authenticity was confirmed by a senior Taliban member who is a close associate of Rasheed. It is understood Malala has not received the letter herself.
Rasheed accused Malala of seeking to promote an education system begun by British colonialists to produce “Asians in blood but English in taste,” and said students should study Islam and not “satanic or secular curriculum.”
“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 plight of Muslim ummah (community),” Rasheed wrote.
After flirting with death in Pakistan, Malala was given intensive rehabilitation and ground-breaking surgery in Britain, where she now lives with her family.
Rasheed was sentenced to death over a 2003 attack on Pakistan’s then-military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, but escaped from custody in a mass jailbreak in April last year.
He said he had originally wanted to write to Malala to warn her against criticizing the Taliban when she rose to prominence by blogging for the BBC Urdu service, chronicling life under the militants’ 2007 to 2009 rule in Swat, northwest Pakistan.