Protests swept Pakistan following the shooting of a 14-year-old schoolgirl by the Taliban. Schools closed their doors across the country in solidarity with the teenager, shot for advocating education for girls and criticizing the terrorist group.
Vigils and demonstrations were held across the nation amid strong condemnations of the attack by Pakistan’s leaders and the international community. Demonstrators marched in the streets of the capital of Islamabad holding banners reading, “Shame on you Taliban,” and decrying the attack as “inhuman” and “barbaric.”
Social media and Web forums were flooded with messages from Pakistanis voicing outrage at the Taliban’s actions and expressing their admiration for 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai.
"In attacking Malala, the terrorists have failed to grasp that she is not only an individual, but an icon of courage and hope who vindicates the great sacrifices that the people of Swat and the nation gave, for wresting the valley from the scourge of terrorism," General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the country’s top military officer said in a statement.
Malala Yousufzai is now in a stable condition after surgeons removed a bullet from her neck on Wednesday.
Taliban spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility shortly after the shooting on Tuesday. The militant group claimed it was not Yousufzai’s advocating education for women that provoked the attack, but her support for Western ideals and a more secular society. They vowed to attack the girl again if she survives.
Malala’s family responded by saying that they were unafraid of the Taliban’s threats. "We wouldn't leave our country if my daughter survives or not," Mr Yousafzai told the Indpependent from the military hospital in the northwestern city of Peshawar where Malala is being treated.
"We have an ideology that advocates peace. The Taliban cannot stop all independent voices through the force of bullets," he said.
Taliban attackers opened fire on the school bus Malala Yousufzai was riding in the northern region of Swat Valley on Tuesday. She was struck in the head and neck, and another girl was also injured in the shooting.
The Pakistani Interior Minister announced that the authorities identified Malala’s attackers and how they infiltrated the valley, but no arrests have been made yet.
Malala Yousufzai began writing an anonymous blog at the age of 11 in which she spoke out against the Taliban, who controlled the Swat Valley until they were pushed out in 2009. Malala then began to publicly defend women’s right to education, which the Taliban strongly opposes.
As the deadline for US troop withdrawal in neighboring Afghanistan nears, insurgency attacks are occurring with increased frequency. Moreover, US anti-terrorism drone strikes in northern Pakistan have had little effect in besides fueling anti-American sentiment and inciting more militant attacks.
A study carried out at Stanford and New York Universities called ‘Living Under Drones’ asserts that the drone strikes are ineffective and counterproductive. According to the report, only two percent of strike causalities are the top-ranking militants the drone program claims to target, and that the number of civilians killed in collateral fire has turned Pakistanis against the US.
The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that up to 3,325 people were killed in US strikes since 2004 in Pakistan, and that up to 884 of the dead were civilians.
The US acting ambassador to Pakistan Richard Hoagland defended Washington’s policy on Wednesday, arguing that drones should continue to be used in US antiterrorism efforts. In addressing the anti-drone marches that have taken place across Pakistan, Hoagland said that US policy would not be changed by protest.