By Chicago Tribune
You’ve heard this horrific story by now: A Taliban gunman boarded a school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley badlands and shot 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai in the head. The reason? Malala wanted to go to school. That’s forbidden by the Taliban.
Over the years, Taliban terrorists in Pakistan have destroyed at least 200 schools for girls. But Malala would not back down. She started, at 11, blogging about her dream to be a doctor or a politician. Last year, she was nominated for the International Children’s Peace Prize. She won Pakistan’s first National Youth Peace Prize. She became a potent symbol of defiance against the Taliban.
“I have the right of education,” she said. “I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to market. I have the right to speak up.”
Now Malala lies in a hospital bed in England. Doctors say she’ll need surgery to repair or replace damaged bones in her skull and is also expected to need neurological treatment.
Last week’s attack shows that the Taliban are creeping back and just as vicious as ever in their assault on women.
Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar told CNN that she believes the attack on Malala marks a “turning point” in Pakistan’s pursuit of the Taliban and other extremists. “Pakistan, at the diplomatic, political and every level, has been asking … to take this matter seriously, to not let them (the Taliban) have a safe haven,” she said.
Those are the right words. Now they need to be backed by strong military action.
After last week’s attack, Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan boasted that Malala had been targeted. He called her crusade for education rights an “obscenity,” The New York Times reported.
This savagery is what the Taliban stand for. They cannot be appeased or accommodated. They pose a grave threat to Pakistan, to Afghanistan, to international security … and to every woman within their reach who would have the temerity to dream.