Pakistani girl shot by Taliban remains target

The Taliban will keep trying to kill the 14-year-old schoolgirl activist they shot in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, the girl’s cousin has told the CBC’s As It Happens radio program.

Malala Yousafzai was critically wounded by a gunman who stopped the van that was taking her home from school on Tuesday. The Taliban said she was targeted for promoting the education of girls and for opposing the militants.

Young Malala underwent surgery Wednesday to remove a bullet from her neck and remains in a medically-induced coma. "She’s slowly and gradually recovering now," her cousin told CBC Radio’s As It Happens.

But in an exclusive interview, Azizulhassan Yousafzai said if his cousin does regain her health, she and her family will be in great danger.

"If she survives, I assure you they will attack again,” Yousafzai said.” They want to kill our whole family – her father, her brother, her mother. The Taliban are like a crazy bull – they can never be stopped."

Despite the ongoing threat, he says the family remains proud of her advocacy. “If my daughter dies for such a great cause…I will never regret it,” Yousafzai quoted the girl’s father as saying.

Her father, who used to run a girls’ school, is one of the two great influences in Malala’s life, Yousafzai said. The other was former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated by militants in a 2007 attack.

Yousafzai revealed that the whole family is now living under the government’s protection. But he noted how some Pakistani politicians and celebrities, while expressing sympathy for his cousin’s plight, are still reluctant to condemn those behind her shooting.

"They can’t condemn [the] Taliban because they are afraid,” he said. “Malala…condemned the acts of [the] Taliban very openly."

But he said many in Pakistan won’t speak out because they fear for their lives and for their children’s lives. As a result, he said "the terrorists… they are free to kill innocent people. They are power-crazed bullies."

Malala’s shooting outraged many in Pakistan, where she was admired for her outspoken courage and advocacy. Three years ago, when she was just 11, she began writing a blog for the BBC about life under the Taliban. She used a pseudonym then, but later went public to denounce the Taliban's policies and its atrocities.

Yousafzai said his cousin’s supporters can be assured that her fight will go on.

"We are proud of Malala…what she has done," he said. "That is for our nation…that is for change...it is for humanity."

"If she dies, we will be proud of her. And if she lives, she will continue her mission."

The full interview withe Azizulhassan Yousafzai can be heard on As It Happens, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

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