Malala Yousafzai to address universal education in UN speech

Malala Day Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai is scheduled to mark her 16th birthday on Friday by addressing the United Nations, her first public speech since she was shot in the head by Taliban militants just nine months ago (BBC, VOA).  Yousafzai, who was targeted because of her campaign for girls’ rights, is expected to focus ...

Queen Elizabeth Hospital Via Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth Hospital Via Getty Images
Queen Elizabeth Hospital Via Getty Images

Malala Day

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai is scheduled to mark her 16th birthday on Friday by addressing the United Nations, her first public speech since she was shot in the head by Taliban militants just nine months ago (BBC, VOA).  Yousafzai, who was targeted because of her campaign for girls' rights, is expected to focus on free compulsory education for all children, calling on politicians to ensure every child has the right to go to school.  According to people familiar with her remarks, she's expected to say, "Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons."

Malala Day

Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai is scheduled to mark her 16th birthday on Friday by addressing the United Nations, her first public speech since she was shot in the head by Taliban militants just nine months ago (BBC, VOA).  Yousafzai, who was targeted because of her campaign for girls’ rights, is expected to focus on free compulsory education for all children, calling on politicians to ensure every child has the right to go to school.  According to people familiar with her remarks, she’s expected to say, "Let us pick up our books and pens. They are our most powerful weapons."

Despite the attention Yousafzai has brought to girls’ education in Pakistan, the accessibility of female education in Pakistan’s tribal regions remains mixed.  In Yousafzai’s home region of Swat, girls’ education has increased from 96,540 for all of 2012 to 102,374 for just the first six months of 2013 (AFP).  But local residents say the change is more because of a general feeling that Taliban influence in the region is waning than Yousafzai’s celebrity.  In Mohmand, another tribal area, schools have been the targets of more than 100 attacks and attendance is down by 75% (NYT).  According to the teachers, while the girls may want to return to school, it’s hard to convince their fathers – who don’t want their daughters to become the next Malala – to let them attend.

The legal troubles for former Pakistani president Pervez Musharraf continued on Friday when the Islamabad High Court ordered the registration of a case against him for his alleged involvement in the Lal Masjid operation in 2007 (Dawn, ET).  Justice Noorul Haq Qureshi issued the order upon hearing the petition of Haroon Rasheed, a man charging Musharraf for the deaths of his father and grandmother.  The Lal Masjid operation was a government crackdown on a controversial pro-Taliban mosque in Islamabad that ended after an eight-day siege in which at least 58 Pakistani troops and seminary students were killed.

Pakistanis began celebrating Ramadan on Thursday but after a suicide bombing killed at least nine people in Lahore on Saturday, the city’s Anarkali market has little of the holiday’s typical hustle and bustle (AFP).  According to shopkeepers, business is down by about 50 percent since Saturday’s bombing – the worst attack in Lahore – and people are scared.  Rai Tahir, a senior police officer, said that 3,000 police officers have been deployed for duty and there are an additional 2,000 guarding the markets.

At least seven people were killed and 10 were injured in Balochistan on Thursday when a suicide bomber blew himself up at the "Friendship Gate" in Chaman on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border (ET).  Trying to enter Pakistan, the bomber was stopped by security forces that found him suspicious.  It was the second time in less than a week that a suicide bomber had attacked a border crossing.

Falling to insurgents

One day after Abdul Khaliq Maroof, the administrative chief of Hesarak district of Nangarhar province, told Pajhwok that the district was in danger of falling to insurgents, government officials released statements on Friday saying weapons and ammunition were being sent to the district (Pajhwok, Pajhwok).  According to Maroof, there are around 1,000 militants are operating in the area, which has only 48 policemen.  The reports come just days after the Washington Post reported a growing acceptance among some Afghan soldiers that parts of the country will remain under insurgent control after coalition forces leave in 2014. 

After centuries of living in the Wakhan Corrider – a narrow strip of Afghanistan located between Tajikistan, Pakistan, and China – 1,100 ethnic Kyrgyz are reportedly contemplating a mass exodus from the country (Post).  While the area has largely been spared the violence of the last 12 years, it has also missed the burst of foreign aid that has helped reconstruct the country.  The Kyrgyz are the most impoverished minority in Afghanistan, they have the highest infant mortality rate in the world, and educational opportunities are more than 12 hours away. Though the community has long been opposed to leaving the country, that opposition is waning since, in the words of one resident, "There is nothing for us here. The world has left us behind."

— Jennifer Rowland and Bailey Cahall

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