Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 12 July 2014

Former PM dismisses Taliban claim

Malala Yousafzai called on people to take up 'the weapon of knowledge' in their campaign for access to education for all children around the world

Former prime minister Gordon Brown has dismissed a claim in a letter from a senior Taliban commander to shot schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai that the Taliban were not against the education of women and girls.

Adnan Rasheed, a senior commander of the Tehriki Taliban (TTP) in Pakistan, wrote to Malala: "Taliban never attacked you because of going to school or you were education lover, also please mind that Taliban or Mujahideen are not against the education of any men or women or girl."

In the letter, seen by Channel 4 News, he said the Taliban believed she was writing against them and running a smear campaign to malign their efforts to establish an Islamic system in Swat, in the north of Pakistan, and her writings were provocative.

Malala, who has been recovering in the UK from last year's attack, told the UN youth assembly in New York last Friday, on her 16th birthday - dubbed Malala Day - that there were millions who had been attacked or killed across the world because of the terrorists' fear of "books and pens".

She called on people to take up "the weapon of knowledge" in their campaign for access to education for all children around the world.

Mr Brown, now UN Special Envoy for Global Education, said: "Nobody will believe a word the Taliban say about the right of girls like Malala to go to school until they stop burning down schools and stop massacring pupils.

"In the last few weeks alone in separate terrorist attacks, 14 female students were massacred in Quetta, a girls' school prize-giving ceremony was bombed, killing a school principal and maiming pupils in Karachi, and a female teacher was gunned down in front of her son on her way to the all-girls school where she taught.

"The Taliban are on the defensive because four million people, two million of them in Pakistan, have now signed petitions calling for every girl to have their education in safety.

"I will visit Pakistan in the next few weeks as we build on Malala Day.

"During my visit I will step up the pressure for action to ensure that the three to four million Pakistani girls now denied education have a chance to go to school by the end of 2015."

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