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Published: Friday, 10/12/2012

Taliban barbarity

The attempted murder of a 14-year-old girl because she campaigned for the right of all Pakistani girls to go to school is extreme even by the Taliban’s barbaric, medieval standards.

Malala Yousufzai defied the Taliban by pursuing an education and encouraging other girls to do so. She was shot this week in the head and neck by an assailant as she sat in a school bus.

After the faction Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan took credit for its attempted assassination of a child, it said she would be targeted again if she survives. It was a chilling preview of what Pakistan can expect if such zealots ever come to power.

The death cult said the girl was on its hit list because she was “secular” and “promoted Western culture.” Most Pakistanis are repelled by the actions of a group that undermines their strides into modernity. Yet the Taliban are tolerated in Pakistan because they are considered a bulwark against neighboring India and U.S.-occupied Afghanistan.

As the child struggles to recover from her head wound, Pakistan must begin the painful soul-searching it has put off far too long. What kind of player does a country with a weak economy but nuclear weapons want to be in the world community? Will zealots who see no need to educate girls win the argument?

Malala Yousufzai embodies what the Pakistan Taliban hate, but she is not alone. Hundreds of thousands of Pakistani girls, if not millions, look to her example of bravery as an inspiration.

Women and girls in Pakistan — and everywhere else — must refuse to be silenced by thugs who would deny them basic human rights.

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