Taliban target another schoolgirl from the Swat Valley

The Taliban’s attempt to incite fear into those who speak out on issues of female empowerment are being rounded up to be “targeted or kidnapped”

by Natalie Glanvill on 23 October 2012 09:05

There is no escape for those who stand up for women’s rights and education, especially in Pakistan’s Swat Valley.

What is even more disturbing is that despite the recent, deadly attack by the Taliban in what is considered a relatively safe environment (a school bus), the Pakistani authorities have been impotent in stopping further killings.

The reason I say this is because the Taliban have targeted another schoolgirl from the Swat Valeey, the Pakistani town where 14 year old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck for publicly exposing Taliban atrocities and advocating education for girls.

But this is no ordinary schoolgirl. Hina Khan was ‘a pioneer in raising her voice publicly against Taliban atrocities in the Malakand Valley’ and comes from a family where her mother had worked for female empowerment for over a decade.

Hina Khan claims she is on the Taliban’s notorious hit list and despite repeated requests for security by her mother and father, no protection has so far been provided to her by Pakistan’s Interior Ministry or the police.

Khan and her family claim to have been on Taliban’s hit list since 2006 when her mother, Farhat, a human rights and social activist who was then running for a NGO position, had arranged a handicap expo for the Swati women.

Dubbed ‘Pakistan’s Switzerland’ – Hina Khan and her family fled their home in the Swat Valley in 2009 and moved to Islamabad after she publicly denounced the growing number of atrocities committed by militants.

“I had left Swat with my family because the militants had threatened girls’ education there but now I feel would not be able to go to school in Islamabad as well after these renewed threats”.

“I am more worried now because after the attack on Malala, this red cross appear[ed] on our door and subsequent threats to my family has made us more insecure”, Khan said.

Khan’s father, Raitullah says that he removed the red cross from the gate and assumed it was the kids playing about, but the “very next day it appeared again which really terrified me” she said.

The Taliban’s attempt to incite fear into those who speak out on issues of female empowerment are being rounded up to be “targeted or kidnapped”. The intensity of the threats are said to be coming with “more force after Malala’s incident”, Hina’s mother said.

Islamabad- based human rights activist, Tahira Abdullah, said in 2009, “It is almost as though the Taliban do not want girls to exist...They are knocking on the doors of Peshawar, and I have no doubt they will be knocking on the doors of Islamabad [if] the government continues the complacency they are showing right now”.

Pakistan’s Interior Minister has clearly underestimated the potential consequences of not providing the relevant security to Hina Khan’s family after repeated requests for security was not acted upon. Whose fault would it be if and when the fundamentalist groups choose not spare the lives of Hina and her family as is continuously threatened?

Anxious about the future prospects of his family, who have been changing residencies frequently, Ratullah said, “we are almost being held hostage inside our house. I want security for my three daughters, two sons and my wife so they can live freely”. 

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