Diaries of the girl who took on the Taliban

Malala Yousafzai is the teenager shot in the head for exposing the extremists. This is the blog that they didn't want us to read

When private schools in Pakistan's troubled north-western Swat valley were ordered to close by a Taliban edict banning girls' education, Malala Yousafzai, then 11-years old, spoke out against the move in an online diary. Today, she lies in a Peshawar hospital in a critical condition, after undergoing surgery to remove a bullet from her head. Malala was shot by Taliban gunmen on Tuesday, because they believe she "promoted secularism". These are her words, which made the 14-year-old schoolgirl a target for militants.

Saturday 3 January 2009: I am afraid

I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taliban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. My mother made me breakfast and I went off to school. I was afraid of going to school because the Taliban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools.

Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of the Taliban's edict. My three friends have shifted to Peshawar, Lahore and Rawalpindi with their families after this edict.

On my way from school to home I heard a man saying "I will kill you". I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone.

Sunday 4 January: I have to go to school

Today is a holiday and I woke up late, around 10 am. I heard my father talking about another three bodies lying at Green Chowk (crossing). I felt bad on hearing this news. Before the launch of the military operation we all used to go to Marghazar, Fiza Ghat and Kanju for picnics on Sundays. But now the situation is such that we have not been out on a picnic for over a year and a half.

We also used to go for a walk after dinner but now we are home before sunset. Today I did household chores, my homework and played with my brother. But my heart was beating fast – as I have to go to school tomorrow.

Monday 5 January: Do not wear colourful dresses

I was getting ready for school and about to wear my uniform when I remembered that our principal had told us not to wear uniforms – and come to school wearing normal clothes instead. So I decided to wear my favourite pink dress. Other girls in school were also wearing colourful dresses and the school presented a homely look. My friend came to me and said: "For God's sake, answer me honestly, is our school going to be attacked by the Taliban?" During the morning assembly we were told not to wear colourful clothes as the Taliban would object to it.

I came back from school and had tuition sessions after lunch. In the evening I switched on the TV and heard that curfew had been lifted from Shakardra after 15 days. I was happy to hear that because our English teacher lived in the area and she might be coming to school now.

Wednesday 7 January: No firing or fear

I have come to Bunair to spend Muharram (a Muslim holiday) on vacation. I adore Bunair because of its mountains and lush green fields. My Swat is also very beautiful but there is no peace. But in Bunair there is peace and tranquillity. Neither is there any firing nor any fear. We all are very happy.

Today we went to Pir Baba mausoleum and there were lots of people there. People are here to pray while we are here for an excursion. There are shops selling bangles, earrings, lockets and other artificial jewellery. I thought of buying something but nothing impressed – my mother bought earrings and bangles.

Friday 9 January: The Maulana goes on leave?

Today at school I told my friends about my trip to Bunair. They said that they were sick and tired of hearing the Bunair story. We discussed the rumours about the death of Maulana Shah Dauran, who used to give speeches on FM radio. He was the one who announced the ban on girls attending school.

Some girls said that he was dead but others disagreed. The rumours of his death are circulating because he did not deliver a speech the night before on FM radio. One girl said that he had gone on leave. Since there was no tuition on Friday, I played the whole afternoon. I switched on the TV in the evening and heard about the blasts in Lahore. I said to myself: "Why do these blasts keep happening in Pakistan?"

Wednesday 14 January: I may not go to school again

I was in a bad mood while going to school because winter vacations are starting from tomorrow. The principal announced the vacations but did not mention the date the school was to reopen. This was the first time this has happened.

In the past the reopening date was always announced clearly. The principal did not inform us about the reason behind not announcing the school reopening, but my guess was that the Taliban had announced a ban on girls' education from 15 January. This time round, the girls were not too excited about vacations because they knew if the Taliban implemented their edict they would not be able to come to school again. Some girls were optimistic that the schools would reopen in February but others said that their parents had decided to shift from Swat and go to other cities for the sake of their education.

Since today was the last day of our school, we decided to play in the playground a bit longer. I am of the view that the school will one day reopen, but while leaving I looked at the building as if I would not come here again.

This diary was published on the BBC News website in 2009, and first appeared on BBC Urdu online

Doctors remove bullet from Malala's head

Doctors in Pakistan said yesterday they had removed a bullet from 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai after she was in the head by the Taliban.

As a nation responded with outrage to the shooting of the teenaged activist, doctors said they had removed the bullet, which had passed through her head and lodged in her shoulder.

Meanwhile, the Taliban claimed that if the youngster survived the attack in the Swat Valley it would target her again.

Bushra Gohar, a senior member of the Awami National Party, which heads the ruling coalition in the provincial government, told The Independent that Malala remained in a critical condition. Ms Gohar said: "She is such a bold and brave girl and naturally when a 14-year-old gets up to challenge the militants – and all she was asking for was education – then she is an inspiration to everyone."

Malala won international recognition for highlighting Taliban actions in Swat with a blog for the BBC three years ago, when Islamist militants burned girls' schools and terrorised the valley.

She was attacked in the valley's main town, Mingora, as she made her way home from school on Tuesday. Two other girls on her bus were wounded.

Andrew Buncombe

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