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The assassination attempt on a 14-year-old child activist by the Taliban has made global headlines and triggered an outpouring of sympathy for the girl and condemnation of the brutal act by the Taliban. The Taliban are known for experimenting with new ways of creating terror and propagating its outlandish, inhuman ways, but measuring even by those standards, the attack on Malala Yousafzai came as a surprise. The young girl’s crime was that she tried to promote education for girls and dared to criticize the fundamentalist movement. She was shot along with two classmates while they were on their way home from school on Tuesday. The Taliban have taken responsibility for the shooting and going one step further, it said she would be targeted again if she recovered from her injuries. Malala is still battling for life at a hospital.
The international condemnation of Taliban is understandable, but what is more noteworthy is the horror and shock which the dastardly act has caused in Pakistan. Political and military leaders came out in support of the girl, prayer meetings were held across the country and several organisations took to the streets denouncing the Taliban. But amid the outpouring of support for the girl, what is more striking is the inability of a nation to prevent similar incidents in the future. Almost all the people of Pakistan are peace-loving and oppose the Taliban, but the government and the military have found themselves helpless to take on the terrorist outfit. The Taliban are controlling the Swat Valley and its leader Maulana Fazlullah’s radio broadcasts are spreading terror among residents in the area.
That a 14-year-old girl stood up against the Taliban speaks not only of the rare courage of the girl, but also of the revulsion its activities has caused in the region. Malala will not be silenced and her rare courage will create more Malalas. But Taliban is not an organisation which will be deterred by the voices of these activists. The future looks bleak for the people living in Taliban-dominated areas, especially for women.
The question that remains to be answered is whether the government of Pakistan and the military can muster the courage to defeat the Taliban and enforce law in the area. It seems the government can, but it lacks the will to do so.
The government must utilise the public anger against the Taliban to crack down on the outfit. A group of 50 Islamic clerics in the country have issued a fatwa against the gunmen who tried to kill the girl, which shows that all of Pakistan is united against the Taliban.