Pakistan Taliban's letter to Malala Yousafzai: We tried to kill you because you were smearing our cause - but we regret attack

 

A leading commander of the Pakistani Taliban has written to Malala Yousafzai – the 16-year-old schoolgirl and education advocate who survived a near-fatal assassination attempt last October – to express his regret at the attack.

The letter is written by Adnan Rashid, a prominent member of the Pakistani Taliban who joined the militant group after a career as a technician in the Pakistan Air Force.

“When you were attacked, it was shocking for me,” wrote Mr Rashid, according to the letter published by Channel 4. “I wished it would never happened[sic] and I had advised you before.”

The 1,863-word letter, dated 15 July, doesn’t condemn the incident, however. Mr Rashid also declines to say whether the attempt to kill Malala was “Islamically correct or wrong, or you were deserved to be killed or not”. Instead, he writes, “Leave it to Allah… He is the best judge.”

In 2012, the Pakistani Taliban sprang Mr Rashid out of Bannu jail along with nearly 400 other militants. In the letter to Malala, Mr Rashid makes a fleeting reference to his escape. In 2005, he had been given a death sentence for his involvement in a plot to assassinate former military ruler General Pervez Musharraf.

Throughout the letter, Mr Rashid is by turns conciliatory, defensive and belligerent. He wants to reassure Malala that she wasn’t targeted for demanding education. “It is amazing you are Shouting[sic] for education,” he writes. Malala’s real offence was not her calls for schooling, he writes, but “running a smear campaign to malign” the Taliban.

Mr Rashid also accuses Malala of using her writing in a “provocative” way, which he says is a form of violence. “You are using your tongue on the behest of others,” Mr Rashid writes, echoing widespread and lurid conspiracy theories about Malala. “You must know that if the pen is mightier than the sword, then the tongue is sharper… and in wars, the tongue is more destructive than any weapon.”

The Taliban commander adopts an almost wounded tone when trying to respond to the list of the militants’ crimes. He writes that the Taliban alone are not responsible for blowing up schools, blaming the Pakistan army for using them as bases, and venal local officials for allegedly staging school explosions to siphon off cash.

The former Pakistan air force technician also tries to defend the gruesome murders of polio vaccination teams across the country, invoking anti-Semitic conspiracy theories. Nearly 20 polio workers have been killed in recent months. Pakistan remains one of just three countries where polio is still an epidemic, with nearly 60 cases reported last year.

Mr Rashid didn’t write the letter on behalf of the Taliban, he was careful to stress, but in a “personal capacity”. He ends it by inviting Malala back to Pakistan, and to join a local madrassa for girls.

Speaking at the UN headquarters in New York last Friday, Malala – who is considered a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize – said books and pens frighten extremists, and urged education for all, including “for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists”.

She has not commented publically on the letter.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: UX Consultant

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: You will be working with a 8 st...

Recruitment Genius: Part-time Editor

£8000 - £12000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A unique opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Field Sales Executive

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: An exceptional opportunity has arisen for a pa...

Recruitment Genius: Kitchen and Bathroom Installers

£18000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This provider of designer kitch...

Day In a Page

Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests
Mexico: A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life

The dark side of Mexico

A culture that celebrates darkness as an essential part of life
Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde. Don't tell other victims it was theirs

Being sexually assaulted was not your fault, Chrissie Hynde

Please don't tell other victims it was theirs
A nap a day could save your life - and here's why

A nap a day could save your life

A midday nap is 'associated with reduced blood pressure'
If men are so obsessed by sex, why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?

If men are so obsessed by sex...

...why do they clam up when confronted with the grisly realities?
The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3

Jon Thoday and Richard Allen-Turner

The comedy titans of Avalon on their attempt to save BBC3
The bathing machine is back... but with a difference

Rolling in the deep

The bathing machine is back but with a difference
Part-privatised tests, new age limits, driverless cars: Tories plot motoring revolution

Conservatives plot a motoring revolution

Draft report reveals biggest reform to regulations since driving test introduced in 1935
The Silk Roads that trace civilisation: Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places

The Silk Roads that trace civilisation

Long before the West rose to power, Asian pathways were connecting peoples and places
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled

The honours that shame Britain

Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal are ennobled
When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race

'When it comes to street harassment, we need to talk about race'

Why are black men living the stereotypes and why are we letting them get away with it?
International Tap Festival: Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic

International Tap Festival comes to the UK

Forget Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers - this dancing is improvised, spontaneous and rhythmic
War with Isis: Is Turkey's buffer zone in Syria a matter of self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Turkey's buffer zone in Syria: self-defence – or just anti-Kurd?

Ankara accused of exacerbating racial division by allowing Turkmen minority to cross the border