Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year old Pakistani teenage girl who dedicated her life to girls’ rights, has been gunned down by masked Taliban gunmen. Ms. Yousafzai, who represents the progressive face of Pakistan, has been seriously injured and is fighting the hardest battle of her life.
According to reports, the Taliban gunmen entered a school bus Ms. Yousafzai was returning home in along with other school children. They singled her out and shot her in the head and neck. Two other girls were also injured in the attack.
According to authorities, Ms. Yousafzai was in serious condition at a hospital in Peshawar, with a bullet probably stuck close to her brain.
When she was 11, Ms. Yousafzai took on the Taliban rule when she raised her voice against the Taliban atrocities in the Swat valley. As Taliban militants swept through her town in 2009 and destroyed girls’ schools, the little schoolgirl gave voice to her passion for education.
She garnered the attention of the world when in 2009 she wrote a diary for BBC Urdu under the pen name Gul Makai about life under Taliban militants who had seized controls of Swat valley from the Pakistani government, killed people and destroyed school buildings until they were driven out by Pakistani military forces during an offensive in 2009.
“She has become a symbol of Western culture in the area; she was openly propagating it,” said Taliban spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, according to the NY Times. Ehsan also vowed that the Taliban would surely make another attempt to kill her if she survives. “Let this be a lesson.”
The teenage schoolgirl’s daring, open and bold stance against the Taliban has brought her prevalent recognition. She won several awards at home for peace and struggle for girls’ rights and education. Ms. Yousafzai was also nominated for the 2011 International Children’s Peace Prize.
The attack on Yousafzai, who didn't fear the risks involved her activism and had strong support from her parents for what she was doing, was widely condemned by international leaders and rights activists.
Amnesty International condemned the attack and said it was a shocking violence against a schoolgirl for her activism and girls’ right to education.
"This attack highlights the extremely dangerous climate human rights activists face in north-western Pakistan, where particularly female activists live under constant threats from the Taliban and other militant groups,’ Amnesty International said in a statement, according to ABC News.
Her father, who is a school teacher by profession, said he is proud of his daughter’s activism.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf condemned the attack and vowed that his government will continue fighting against the mindset involved in the act of violence against children.
As millions of people across the world pray for Ms. Yousafzai’s life, the way she was spending her life under risks in the once Taliban’s infested valley with no security speaks of how Pakistan treat’s its heroes.