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Taliban commander regrets attack on Pakistani teen

Published: 18th July 2013 10:58 AM  |   Last Updated: 18th July 2013 10:58 AM   |  A+A-

Malala_AP

Rasheed, who the Taliban broke out of prison last year, said the militants supported both boys and girls going to school as long as they received an Islamic education and didn't study what he called a "satanic or secular curriculum." Malala wrote in a blog for the BBC at the time the Taliban controlled Swat about how many students moved out of the valley after the Taliban issued an edict banning girls from school.

The Taliban have kidnapped and shot other education activists like Malala and also have blown up hundreds of schools in Pakistan's northwest. The Pakistani army launched a large offensive against the Taliban in Swat in the spring of 2009 and drove out many of the militants, but they have continued periodic attacks.

Rasheed said the Taliban only blow up schools that Pakistani soldiers use as hideouts. Teachers and activists say this is only partly true. Some were targeted because they were used by the military, but many of the attacks were motivated by the Taliban's opposition to girls' education and schooling that doesn't follow their strict interpretation of Islam, the teachers and activists say.

Rasheed also justified recent attacks in Pakistan on health workers providing children with polio vaccinations, claiming the West is trying to sterilize Muslims. The Taliban have denied carrying out such attacks in the past.

The Taliban commander also criticized the U.N. honoring Malala as he said the world ignores civilians being killed in U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan's northwest. The U.N. is currently conducting an investigation into allegations of civilian casualties from U.S. drone attacks.

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, now a UN special envoy on global education, criticized Rasheed for writing the letter while the Taliban continues to attack schools.

"Nobody will believe a word the Taliban say about the right of girls like Malala to go to school until they stop burning down schools and stop massacring pupils," Brown said in a statement.

While not apologizing for the attack, Rasheed offered Malala education advice, urging her to return to Pakistan and enroll in an Islamic school for women.

"Use your pen for Islam and plight of Muslim ummah (community) and reveal the conspiracy of tiny elite who want to enslave the whole humanity for their evil agendas in the name of new world order," Rasheed wrote.

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