Nobel prize winner Malala Yousafzai condemned Donald Trump’s views on Muslims on Tuesday, at a somber ceremony to remember the 134 children killed in a Taliban attack on a Pakistani school a year ago.
“Well, that’s really tragic that you hear these comments which are full of hatred, full of this ideology of being discriminative towards others,” Malala told AFP, in response to recent comments by the US Republican presidential candidate.
Trump has been heavily criticized for calling for a ban on all Muslims entering the United States after a Muslim husband and wife killed 14 people in a shooting rampage in California, an incident classified as a terrorist act.
The event was organized by peace prize winner Malala and her family, and two survivors of the attack, Ahmad Nawaz, 14, and Mohammed Ibrahim, 13, took part.
The massacre saw nine extremists scale the walls of an army-run school in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, lobbing grenades and opening fire on terrified children and teachers.
“There are these terrorist attacks happening, for example what happened in Paris or what happened in Peshawar a year ago,” Malala said, referring to last month’s Islamic State attack in Paris that killed 130 people.
The death of Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone attack on November 1 is a dramatic reminder that US President Barack Obama remains determined to use drones to disrupt, dismantle and defeat al-Qaeda and its allies in Pakistan despite all the criticism his policy has generated. It works.
The reaction inside Pakistan is a revealing insight into the struggle under way in the country between those who want to fight terror and those who want to appease it. The US’s already dysfunctional relationship with Pakistan has taken another hit as well.
According to one count, the US has used the drones in 378 lethal strikes since 2004. Obama has ordered 327 of them in the four and half years he has been in the Oval Office. According to Pakistan’s Defence Ministry, these have killed 2,160 terrorists and only 67 civilians. These have been remarkably effective in putting al-Qaeda in Pakistan on the defensive.
The Wanted Man
Mehsud worked closely with al-Qaeda in December 2009 to use a Jordanian al-Qaeda triple agent, Humam Khalil al Balawi, to get into a CIA forward operating base on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Balawi blew himself up, killing seven CIA officers, two women and five men, as well as a Jordanian intelligence officer. It was one of the worst days in the agency’s history. Mehsud appeared sitting with Balawi in a martyrdom video released by the Taliban after the attack.
Mehsud was also involved in a plot to attack Time Square in New York City in May 2010 using a car bomb. A Pakistani American, Faysal Shahzad, was trained by Mehsud and al-Qaeda to build the bomb. Another video was released with Mehsud and Shahzad.
Fortunately, an alert hotdog vendor, a Muslim, spotted the vehicle emitting smoke and alerted the NYPD before it exploded. The NYPD later told me that had it gone off as planned, the results would have been catastrophic.
But most of Mehsud’s victims in his violent life were not Americans; by far the majority were his fellow Pakistanis. The Pakistan Taliban has murdered thousands of innocent Pakistanis in the last decade. It has fought a bitter and dangerous war against the Pakistani state and army. Its terror has helped to turn Karachi into a lawless mega city. It tried to murder young Malala Yousafzai and has warned it will kill her if she ever returns to Pakistan. Dozens of other young Pakistani children have been murdered by Mehsud’s followers.
Zubair ur Rehman is afraid of blue skies. After all, it was a bright, clear day when his grandmother, Mamana Bibi was killed by a drone strike in a field outside of his home in Pakistan’s Waziristan region.
“When the sky brightens and becomes blue, the drones return and so does the fear,” the thirteen-year-old told members of Congress at a briefing organized by Representative Alan Grayson, a Florida Democrat, yesterday.
Zubair wasn’t always so anxious. Not even on that day when he was out collecting okra with his grandmother, siblings, and cousins in preparation for the Eid holiday.
“As I helped my grandmother work in the fields,” he said through a translator, “I could hear the drone hover overhead, but I didn’t worry. Why would I worry? Neither I nor my grandmother were militants.”
That is why it was so surprising when a hellfire missile fell from the sky and shattered his family’s life. Zubair’s sister, Nabila, nine years old, recalled what happened next. “I was very scared and all I could think of doing was just run. I kept running but I felt something in my hand. I looked at my hand and I saw that there was blood. I tried to bandage my hand but the blood kept coming. The blood wouldn’t stop.”
The two were badly injured along with four of their cousins. Their grandmother did not survive the attack.
Pakistani teen Malala Yousafzai, shot in the head last year by the Taliban for campaigning for girls education, vowed overnight to intensify her struggle for “a world where everyone can go to school”.
Speaking at a ceremony in The Hague, where she was awarded the 2013 International Children’s Peace Prize, Malala said last October’s attack on her had made her more determined than ever to continue her campaign.
“I was just one target for their violence,” Malala said in her acceptance speech, referring to her near-fatal shooting when a Taliban gunman’s bullet grazed her brain.
“There are many others for whom we must continue… so that children all over the world can have a right to go to school.”
Malala, 16, received her prize from the 2011 Nobel Peace laureate, Yemeni journalist and activist Tawakkol Karman, who told a humbled Malala “you are my hero”.