Nearly a month after being shot and grievously injured by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) for advocating girls’ right to education, 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai has found support in her suspected assailant’s sister. In an interview to CNN, Rehana Haleem — sister of 23-year-old Attahullah Khan who is suspected to have shot Ms. Yousafzai in her school van in Mingora — apologised to the teen, adding that her brother had brought shame to their family.
“We have lost everything after what he did”, said Ms. Haleem, who was detained along with the rest of the family and let off only because of her advanced stage of pregnancy. “What he did was intolerable. Malala is just like my sister. I’d like to express my concern for Malala on behalf of my whole family; I hope she recovers soon and returns to a happy and normal life as soon as possible. I hope Malala doesn’t consider me or my family as enemies. I don’t consider Attaullah my brother anymore.”
Ms. Haleem’s husband, mother, uncle and another brother are still in police custody as the hunt continues for Attaullah. In Ms. Haleem’s mind, there is no doubt that Attaullah is involved. “If he was innocent, he would have come back and claimed he was innocent and come to the aid of his mother and our family. His behaviour is that of a guilty man. How could he abandon us?”
Attaullah is the prime suspect in Ms. Yousafzai’s shooting. A resident of Swat, he was pursuing a Masters degree in Chemistry at Peshawar. According to the police, two of his accomplices in the shooting were also absconding though nearly a dozen of their facilitators have been rounded up. Based on information gathered from them, Pakistan has been maintaining that the attack was the handiwork of the Swat Taliban, now based in the Kunar and Nooristan provinces of Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, Ms. Yousufzai has started walking though complete recovery will take time, as per a briefing provided to President Asif Ali Zardari on Monday by Kevin Bolger, executive director of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.