Ban condemns Pakistan shooting
UN secretary general Ban Ki-moon was outraged at the shooting of a 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl activist by the Taliban and was writing to her family to offer support, his spokesman said today.
Malala Yousufzai, who campaigned for education of girls, was shot and critically wounded on Tuesday as she was leaving her school in her hometown in the Swat Valley. The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying her advocacy was pro-Western and she had opposed them.
"Like so many others in Pakistan and around the world he's truly outraged by this attack," Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky told reporters. "To show his support he's writing to the family of Malala Yousufzai." In a statement later on Wednesday, Mr Ban called
for those responsible for "this heinous and cowardly act to be swiftly brought to justice," saying he had been "deeply moved" by Yousufzai's courageous efforts to promote a right to education.
A gunman arrived at Yousufzai's school yesterday, asking for her by name. He opened fire on her and two classmates on a bus. One of the girls wounded with Yousufzai is in critical condition and the other is recovering and out of danger.
Mr Ban expressed his sympathy to the families of all three girls. His special envoy for children and armed conflict, Leila Zerrougui, and the United Nations Children's Fund also strongly condemned the attack.
"Education is a fundamental right for all children," said Ms Zerrougui in a statement. "The [Pakistani Taliban] must respect the right to education of all children, including girls, to go to school and live in peace."
Yousufzai began standing up to the Pakistani Taliban when she was just 11, when the government effectively ceded control of the Swat Valley, a one-time tourist spot infiltrated by militants from Afghan border bases more than five years ago.
She campaigned for education for girls and later received Pakistan's highest civilian prize. Her father said on Wednesday that his daughter had defied threats for years.
The shooting was denounced across Pakistan. The front pages of national newspapers carried pictures of a bandaged and bloody Yousufzai being brought to hospital.
Pakistan's president, prime minister, and heads of various opposition parties joined human rights group Amnesty International and the United Nations in condemning the attack.
"Pakistan's future belongs to Malala and brave young girls like her. History won't remember the cowards who tried to kill her at school," Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, said on Twitter.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack saying she was "pro-West", had been promoting Western culture and had been speaking out against them.
They justified shooting her by citing instances from the Koran when a child or woman was killed.
"Any female that, by any means, plays a role in the war against mujahedeen should be killed," said Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan, using the term for Islamic holy warriors to refer to the Taliban.
"We are dead against co-education and a secular education system."
President Asif Ali Zardari said he had directed that the girl should be sent abroad for medical care.
A special aircraft had been sent to Peshawar in case doctors say she should be moved to the United Arab Emirates, said Zaibullah Khan, general manager of the city's airport.
Imran Khan, a former cricketer turned politician who just led a march into northwestern Pakistan protesting against US drone strikes, said he was willing to pay for her medical treatment in Pakistan or abroad.
"Brave girl. Praying for her recovery," he said on Twitter.