NPR Story
2:54 pm
Mon October 15, 2012

Pakistani Girl Shot By Taliban Transported To U.K.

Originally published on Mon October 15, 2012 8:12 pm

Transcript

MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:

This is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. I'm Melissa Block.

In recent days, the name Malala has reverberated around the world. She's the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head by the Taliban. She was targeted because she blogged about what life is like for a child living under Islamist militant rule and she publicly campaigning against Islamist' ban on girls' education.

Malala was flown to Britain today to a hospital in Birmingham that specializes in treating severely injured children. The attack has caused deep anger and revulsion throughout Pakistan.

As NPR's Philip Reeves reports, it has also revealed a level of anti-Americanism that some inside Pakistan find alarming.

PHILIP REEVES, BYLINE: Every now and then, something happens in Pakistan that really strikes a nerve. The shooting of Malala Yousafzai is widely seen as one such moment. Pakistanis held prayers across the land...

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

REEVES: ...and protests, too.

(SOUNDBITE OF PROTEST)

REEVES: Even little kids are rallying to Malala's cause.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHANTING CHILDREN)

MALEEHA LODHI: This is an atrocity that has shaken Pakistan.

REEVES: Maleeha Lodhi is a former Pakistani ambassador to the United States.

LODHI: You know, I've been watching the response in Pakistan, which is unanimous in Pakistan - spontaneous and unanimous in condemning what happened. And I think behind this sentiment is a sense that this cannot be allowed to go on.

REEVES: Pakistanis live in a deeply divided nation. They don't usually agree on much. Can it really be true that the Malala shooting is finally bringing them together in the battle against Islamist militancy? Take a closer look, though. You'll find its a little less clear cut.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONVERSATIONS)

REEVES: Dozens of young Pakistanis have gathered to listen to a talk in a lecture hall. They're students at Islamabad's prestigious Quaid-i-Azam University. They're mostly young men, some bearded and in traditional baggy clothes. The subject strays onto the Malala shooting.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONVERSATIONS)

REEVES: The students begin arguing. The speaker - a well-known academic, activist and political analyst called Professor Pervez Hoodbhoy - seems upset. It's not that the students do not condemn the Malala attack, Hoodbhoy explains afterwards. They do.

PERVEZ HOODBHOY: And yet there were voices within that audience in which some people said: Ah, but drones also kill innocent people. What do you say about that, professor?

REEVES: No one knows how many civilians have been killed by missiles fired into Pakistan's tribal areas by unmanned CIA drones. Estimates run well into the hundreds. Hoodbhoy condemns this. But he believes there's a huge difference between civilian deaths caused by missiles aimed at militants and targeting Malala for assassination for demanding that young girls like her be allowed to go to school.

HOODBHOY: There's no way the two crimes can be equated with each other. The second one was so utterly heinous, whereas the other one is condemnable.

(SOUNDBITE OF CONVERSATIONS)

REEVES: After his talk ends, students cluster around Hoodbhoy outside the lecture hall and pepper him with questions about the Malala case. To Hoodbhoy, this a crystal clear moral issue. Some of the students just don't see it that way. They include Muzzamil Shah.

MUZZAMIL SHAH: (Through translator) In North and South Waziristan, 70 to 80 percent of those killed by drones are innocent. There are many people like Malala. Why is she getting so much coverage in the media?

REEVES: Hoodbhoy sees such views as part of an alarming trend.

HOODBHOY: This is because anti-Americanism has been driven so deeply into our students that they're now seeing everything through that prism. OK, if the Americans say that it was bad to kill Malala, well, then actually it might be a little good to have targeted her.

REEVES: Hoodbhoy says he's seen a strong shift towards radical Islamism in the universities where he teaches. He's not the only one who's worried by this trend.

MOHAMMED YASIR: I am very much concerned. And, you know, if the situation goes on, I would wish to go abroad to study there in America or in London.

REEVES: That's Mohammed Yasir, a 24-year-old student. He describes himself as secular and progressive. He despises Islamist militancy. Yasir also condemns CIA drone attacks, but is a rare example of a Pakistani who believes these can be effective and is willing to say so.

YASIR: Some of the drone attacks, they have been very, very targeted, very specific, and they resulted in very good results. You know? But the Malala attack, it is very worst. I condemn it, and I think this should not be happened. And I have no relation with such Muslims.

REEVES: In Pakistan these days, it's not easy to speak out like that. Look at what happened to Malala. Yasir says he is nervous, even when he jumps into a debate online.

YASIR: Because if you talk on these issues publicly, so you will be in trouble.

REEVES: So, on the Internet, Yasir...

YASIR: I am brave enough. I am brave enough, but still sometimes I feel insecure.

REEVES: Even on the Internet?

YASIR: Ha, sometimes.

REEVES: Philip Reeves, NPR News, Islamabad. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.

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