By DANIEL XAVIER
(Updated Oct. 15) Tens of thousands of people rallied in Karachi, Pakistan, on Oct. 14 to show support for Malala Yousufzai, a young feminist and socialist activist who was shot by the Taliban. The following day, Malala arrived at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham, England, where she was airlifted for further treatment. Doctors believe she has a chance of making a recovery, though she will require prolonged care.
On Oct. 9, Taliban militants in Pakistan stormed a school bus carrying young students and opened fire on children seated in the back. Their target was 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai, who was seriously wounded with bullets in her head and neck, along with two other students. She was airlifted on Thursday to a military hospital in Rawalpindi, where she is now in critical condition.
Yousufzai was targeted by the Taliban for assassination because of her activism in favor of women’s and workers’ rights. She has spoken out against the closing of girls’ schools by the Taliban and has fought for the right to education for women. Her father was the head of one of the last girls’ school in the region, which was closed by the Taliban.
The attack took place in Swat, a mountainous tribal region in northern Pakistan that has been devastated by years of war. Swat had been a stronghold for the Taliban, until 2009 when the Pakistani Army invaded the region, uprooting 1.2 million local residents. The Pakistani Army has been accused of numerous human rights abuses against the local population during their military occupation of the area. Recently, Taliban militants have been trickling back into the region.
Swat has also been the site of numerous drone strikes by the United States military. In fact, on Thursday, two days after the Taliban shot Malala Yousufzai, a U.S. drone attack killed 18 people. Predictably, the mainstream media was silent on these attacks, only focusing on the horrors perpetrated by the Taliban while ignoring the destruction wrought by U.S. imperialism.
They were similarly quiet about Malala Yousufzai’s political affiliations. Yousufzai is not only a women’s rights activist but also a revolutionary socialist, sympathizing with the International Marxist Tendency in Pakistan. She spoke at a Marxist educational conference in Swat earlier in the summer. She stood up against the reactionary Taliban as well as U.S. imperialism, whose drone strikes have wreaked untold havoc in the tribal regions of Pakistan.
Socialist Action sends our comradely regards to Malala Yousufzai and her family and wishes her a full and speedy recovery. She is a brave social justice and anti-imperialist activist who has earned the praise of many in her fight for a better world.
Photo: Malala Yousufzai speaking at Marxism conference / In Defence of Marxism (IMT)