Pakistan's Asif Ali Zardari backs girls' education at event for Malala Yousufzai
Pakistan's President Zardari tells Unesco event in Paris that providing education for girls is the best strategy to defeat Taliban
Pakistan's President Asif Ali Zardari pledged $10m (£8m) for girls' education to Unesco on Monday in the name of a Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban, saying sending girls to school was the best way to combat extremism.
The October attack on Malala Yousufzai sparked worldwide condemnation of Taliban efforts to deprive girls of education in Pakistan, which has seen a surge in Islamist militancy over the past decade.
At a "Stand Up For Malala" advocacy event at the Paris headquarters of the United Nations' cultural arm, Zardari said he was "deeply moved" to have met the teenager during a visit on Saturday to the British hospital where she is recovering. He reported her progress as "satisfactory".
"I have no doubt that our resolve to provide education to all, in particular to the millions of schoolgirls, is the best strategy to defeat the forces of violence," said Zardari, who wore a badge with Yousufzai's face on his lapel. He gave no further details about the education fund, nor where the money would come from.
Yousufzai had campaigned for girls' education for years in the Swat valley, north-west of Pakistan's capital of Islamabad, before being shot at close range while leaving school.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt, calling her efforts pro-western.
Some 61 million primary school-age children around the world do not attend school and two-thirds are girls, Unesco said. In Pakistan, nearly half of females from rural areas do not attend school, it added.
The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, told the Unesco gathering that an education would mean girls were less likely to become child brides and could better contribute to their families' livelihoods.
"Closing the education gap is a powerful prescription for economic growth. But all over the world girls still face enormous obstacles to getting an education," Clinton said in a video message to the gathering.
LONDON: President Asif Ali Zardari on Saturday visited Malala Yousafzai who is recovering in a British hospital after she was shot by the Taliban for campaigning for girls' education.
Zardari also met with 15-year-old Malala family during a private meeting at the specialist Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, central England, where Malala was flown from Pakistan in October following the brutal attack on her school bus.
"President Zardari, accompanied by his daughter Asifa Bhutto, met with clinicians who have been treating Malala since her admission to the hospital," the hospital said in a statement.
"They were brought up to date on the 15-year-old's medical progress and her future treatment plan by (the trust's) medical director, Dr Dave Rosser."
In an attack that shocked the world, Malala was shot in the head on October 9 as punishment for the "crime" of campaigning for girls' rights to go to school.
She miraculously survived the murder attempt but requires reconstructive surgery after the bullet grazed her brain, coming within centimetres of killing her.
There have been calls for the teenager to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, while the United Nations declared a global "Malala Day" last month to show support for her education campaign.
Pakistan is paying for her care at the Queen Elizabeth hospital, which also treats British soldiers seriously wounded in Afghanistan.
Malala has received thousands of goodwill messages from around the world and has said she is overwhelmed by the outpouring of support.
She rose to prominence aged just 11, writing a blog for the BBC Urdu service describing life under the Taliban's hardline rule in the Swat valley in northwestern Pakistan.
She was awarded the Pakistani government's first national peace award and was also nominated for the International Children's Peace Prize.
French President Francois Hollande Tuesday hailed Pakistani teen Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by the Taliban for championing girls' education, as a global emblem of the thirst for knowledge.
Hollande, who met Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, said the 15-year-old was the "symbol of a young girl who fought for access to knowledge and education", adding: "We all share Malala's spirit."
Malala is recovering in a British hospital after being brutally attacked on her school bus on October 9.
Zardari, whose government on Monday donated $10 million for a global war chest aimed at educating all girls by 2015, told Hollande that "every child, every Malala, has a right to education."
The Pakistan leader had also slammed fundamentalists for giving the religion a bad name.
"The first word of the Holy Quran is 'Iqra' which is read," he said, attacking the "fringe minority of darkness, of hatred, of conflict.
"What extremists fear is a girl with a book in her hand," he said.
The UN estimates that 61 million children do not go to school and girls account for two-thirds of this number.
In an attack that shocked the world, Malala was shot in the head as punishment for the "crime" of campaigning for girls' rights to go to school.
She survived the murder attempt but requires reconstructive surgery after the bullet grazed her brain, coming within centimetres of killing her.
BIRMINGHAM: In her first telephone call from the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here, Malala Yousafzai and her father called senior journalist and Geo News anchor Hamid Mir.
“Malala Yousafzai and her father just called me from UK and expressed their solidarity. Malala said that Insha Allah we will defeat terrorists,” Mir tweeted.
The anchor escaped an assassination attempt when police defused a bomb planted on the passenger side of his car in Islamabad on Monday morning.
The material included a battery, a 35 no. detonator and ball bearings.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik has announced a reward of Rs 50 million for credible information regarding the attempt on Mir’s life.
Thousands gather across the world to mark 'Malala Day' in tribute to brave schoolgirl shot by Taliban gunman
- Former prime minister Gordon Brown, who is leading the drive, has presented a petition to Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari
- British schoolboy David Crone, 17, will hand in a petition to the Pakistani authorities in London as part of a global day of action for girls' education
Today marks exactly one month since education campaigner and schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, 15, was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman
People around the world are uniting for 'Malala and the 32 million girls day' in honour of injured Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai as part of a global day of action for girls' education.
It is part of a drive led by former prime minister Gordon Brown, UN Special Envoy for Global Education.
He has presented a petition to Pakistan president Asif Ali Zardari, along with one million signatures from Pakistan, demanding free and compulsory education.
|Malala Yousafzai, 15, reads at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham as she recovers from being shot
Malala is now recovering at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham after being flown to the UK for treatment a week after the shooting.
She has become a symbol of courage and received thousands of goodwill messages.
The public is being encouraged to show their support for today by using social networking sites to post messages.
Youth representatives worldwide are handing in the 'I am Malala' petition, which has already attracted more than one million signatures.
Mr Brown said: 'The president of Pakistan has agreed to work with the United Nations to ensure urgent delivery of education for all and to get Pakistan’s five million out-of-school children into education for the first time.
'No bombs, bullets, threats or intimidation can deter the international community, working in partnership with Pakistan, to ensure we build the schools, train teachers, provide learning materials, and ensure that there is no discrimination against girls.'
Mr Brown announced that three million children in poor families in Pakistan will now receive cash in return for going to school.
He also set a goal with Mr Zardari to ensure that every girl and boy will have a quality education with teachers, books and classrooms by 2015.
The latest Unesco figures show that 61 million children worldwide are not in school - 32 million of whom are girls - and that Pakistan has the second largest number of girls out of school in the world.
In Pakistan today, Mr Brown met two of Malala’s friends who were injured in the attack in Pakistan.
He said there was now a real momentum for change in the country.
'I believe that in Pakistan, the silent majority is speaking and that there is now a national consensus that the country can delay no longer in ensuring girls and boys have schools to go to and teachers to teach them,' Mr Brown said.
'This has been a breakthrough moment for Pakistan and now we must turn Pakistan’s new ambitions and popular determination into delivery on the ground.'
Pakistan Taliban threaten another child activist after Malala shooting
Hinna Khan, 17, warned in phone calls that she will be next owing to her participation in her parents' work to help women
A young activist from the same area of Pakistan as Malala Yousafzai, the girl shot in the head by a Taliban gunman this month, has been warned in a threatening phone call that she will be next.
Hinna Khan, a 17-year-old from Swat, was named during a call made to her mother's mobile phone two days after Malala, who spoke out against the Taliban, was attacked as she sat in a van with her classmates, in the town of Mingora.
Hinna's father, Reyatullah Khan, said: "The Taliban have kidnapped me and tortured me in the past for promoting women's development, but now they are threatening the entire family."
Khan has long publicly opposed the Taliban and in 2008 he gathered a "jirga" of locals to denounce the extremists for forcing schools to close down in Swat. Since 1999 he and his wife have worked through their own organisation to promote development and literacy programmes that support women.
Although he has received threats for many years, he is now taking them far more seriously in the wake of the attack on Malala, who is now recovering in hospital in the UK.
Two weeks before the attempt to kill the 14-year-old, Khan discovered someone had painted a red cross on the gate of the family house in Islamabad, where they have lived since fleeing Swat in 2007.
"I removed it but someone just repainted it," he said. "Then after Malala was attacked we received telephone calls threatening that 'your daughter is next,' and 'we have already sent people to Islamabad to target her.'"
The caller said the family were guilty of having "forgotten your culture". Ever since, the family have been restricting their movements and rarely venture out of the house.
The Taliban – which have issued no public warning against the Khans – justified their attempt to kill Malala because she had campaigned for "secular" rule, rather than the form of government based on the movement's interpretation of Islamic law.
Hinna has also been involved herself in her parent's work, organising demonstrations in Islamabad in 2008 calling for peace in Swat. At the time the valley was struggling to cope with a rising Taliban insurgency, later crushed by a major military operation mounted by the Pakistani army. The insurgents also took over the Khans' house in Swat, turning it into a Taliban "office" in early 2009.
Reyatullah Khan said he had not received any help, despite appealing to the country's interior minister for protection. He said he was so concerned that he was thinking of joining relatives in Afghanistan – a substantially more dangerous place than the leafy suburban streets of Islamabad.
"I will appeal to [the Afghan president] Hamid Karzai because in Pakistan the ministers and government are not sincere," he said. "In Afghanistan, the government is at least sincere to its people."
Those Pakistanis who most oppose the Taliban have been disappointed that the attempted murder of Malala has not prompted another military crackdown against the Taliban, particularly in their sanctuaries in the tribal agency of north Waziristan.
The US has long demanded such a move, and some commentators believe Pakistan's army chief, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, has been anxious to mount a major operation before the onset of winter. But President Asif Ali Zardari has since said there was no national "consensus" for the army to tackle militants in the area.
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