Shot teen's friend questions Taliban concern

Former New Zealand Prime Minister and top United Nations official Helen Clark meets Malala Yousafzai after the schoolgirl addressed the United Nations last week.
Former New Zealand Prime Minister and top United Nations official Helen Clark meets Malala Yousafzai after the schoolgirl addressed the United Nations last week.

A teenager wounded alongside the campaigning schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai has condemned the Pakistan Taliban's letter of regret as a "pack of lies".

Kainat Riaz, 16, said the letter - in which Adnan Rasheed, a notorious terrorist, said he had wanted to warn Malala against criticising the movement out of "brotherly" concern - was nothing more than a public relations stunt.

"There's no truth that writer Adnan Rasheed is shocked at Malala's attack," she said. "The Taliban consider her a great enemy and what has been described in the letter is a pack of lies."

The four-page letter, which surfaced on Thursday, claimed that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan did not oppose education for girls and that Malala was attacked because she was running a smear campaign against the group.

Rasheed, who escaped from prison last year, drafted the letter after Malala addressed the United Nations last week to worldwide acclaim.

He invited her to return to Pakistan but only if she attended a madrassah, an offer dismissed out of hand by those who know her best. "Malala would never come to Pakistan upon the Taliban's invitation and would never seek admission to a Taliban-run seminary," said Kainat, who was wounded in the shoulder as she sat alongside her friend in the school bus.

Malala was shot in her home town of Mingora in the Swat Valley in October last year.

Afrasiab Khattak, a family friend, said Rasheed's letter was in part a threat to Malala and in part an attempt to wrest back the limelight.

"People like him can't tolerate Malala's appearance at the UN and the response she got," he said. "He knows how much this costs their cause so this is damage control."

Mushtari Begum, a student at Khushal Public School, where Malala studied, said her friend would not be intimidated by Taliban threats. Instead, she said, the letter served as a reminder of her values.

- Daily Telegraph UK

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