Thousands rally to support Pakistani girl shot by Taliban
BY ADIL JAWAD & SEBASTIAN ABBOT Associated Press
Monday, October 15, 2012
10/15/12 at 6:04 AM
Tens of thousands rallied in Pakistan's largest city Sunday in the biggest show of support yet for a 14-year-old girl who was shot and seriously wounded by the Taliban for promoting girls' education and criticizing the militant group.
The Oct. 9 attack on Malala Yousufzai as she was returning home from school in Pakistan's northwest horrified people inside and outside the country. At the same time, it gave hope to some that the government would respond by intensifying its fight against the Taliban and their allies.
But protests against the shooting have been relatively small until now, usually attracting no more than a few hundred people. That response pales in comparison to the tens of thousands of people who held violent protests in Pakistan last month against a film produced in the United States that denigrated Islam's Prophet Muhammad.
Demonstrations in support of Malala - and against rampant militant violence in the country in general - have also been fairly small compared with those focused on issues such as U.S. drone attacks and the NATO supply route to Afghanistan that runs through Pakistan.
Pakistan's mainstream political parties are often more willing to harangue the U.S. than to direct their people power against Islamist militants shedding blood across the country - partly out of fear and partly because they rely on Islamist parties for electoral support.
One of the exceptions is the political party that organized Sunday's rally in the southern port city of Karachi, the Muttahida Quami Movement. The party's chief, Altaf Hussain, criticized Islamic and other mainstream political parties for failing to organize rallies to protest the attack on Malala.
He called the Taliban gunmen who shot the girl "beasts" and said it was an attack on "the ideology of Pakistan."
"Malala Yousufzai is a beacon of knowledge. She is the daughter of the nation," Hussain told the audience by telephone from London.
Original Print Headline: Thousands rally to support Pakistani girl
A supporter of Pakistani political party Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM), reacts at a rally Sunday while holding a poster of 14-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, who was shot last Tuesday by the Taliban for speaking out in support of education for women. SHAKIL ADIL / Associated Press