Syed Ali Shah Geelani
Srinagar, Oct. 10: Hurriyat hardliner Syed Ali Shah Geelani today took on the Pakistani Taliban for attacking 14-year-old activist Malala Yousafzai, joining a rare public outcry in the Valley against Taliban atrocities.
The excesses committed by the Taliban have in the past found little mention on public platforms or social networking sites but the plight of the girl, shot in the head, has moved many in Kashmir this time.
Geelani, too, joined the condemnations. “The attack on Malala Yousafzai is condemnable,” the veteran separatist, who had led “funeral-in-absentia” prayers for Osama bin Laden and hailed the slain al Qaida chief as a hero, told a public gathering in Srinagar.
Whatever the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistani is doing in the name of Islam is condemnable, Geelani said. “Islam does not allow killing anyone for his or her ideology.”
A gunman had yesterday walked up to a bus taking children home from school in Pakistan’s volatile Swat Valley, and shot and wounded the teenager, known for championing education for girls.
Pakistani surgeons removed a bullet from the teenager, who remained in critical condition today.
Pro-Pakistan Geelani is the most vocal opponent of US drone attacks on Pakistan and has in the past expressed support for Afghan Taliban fighting Americans. In recent years, he has occasionally criticised the Pakistani Taliban for killing innocent people.
Many expressed outrage on Facebook and prayed for the girl’s speedy recovery. “Prayers needed. very sad,” commented Umar Bashir, a student of Srinagar’s National institute of Technology. “its talibanic* rule not islamic one.. To those who did this, i can say it is an attempt to murder total ignorance….”
A post on the popular Facebook site Paradise Kashmir said Malala was a “beacon of life for the countless girls in Pakistan”.
“May you live long Malala !!!! Our salute to your bravery” the post read.
Bashir Ahmad, an employee of Kashmir University, also expressed outrage. “Hell to those who attacked this innocent girl,” Ahmad said.
Last week, the university campus had reverberated with pro-Taliban slogans when dozens of students protested against Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s visit.