Three brothers, all members of the Swat Taliban of ‘Radio Mulla’ Maulana Fazlullah, have been arrested in connection with the attempt to kill 14-year-old peace activist Malala Yousafzai last Tuesday. Meanwhile, doctors treating Malala reported an improvement in her condition; enough to take her off the ventilator for a while.

The arrests were made on Saturday in the Akbarpura area of Nowshera. The brothers, who hail from Swat, have been identified as Qari Inamullah, Obaidullah and Abdul Hadi. However, the police maintain that neither the three, nor others arrested in the case, are the ones who fired at Malala and her classmates as they returned from school.

Besides the nine arrests till date, more than 100 persons have been picked up for questioning.

The authorities are working on the premise that the attack was undertaken by the Swat Taliban — an offshoot of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan — which claimed responsibility for shooting Malala and has also threatened to target her again in case she survives.

The attack on Malala and an attempt on the life of a social worker in Mingora in August have brought fear back to the valley just as it was trying to put the Taliban reign of the last decade behind it. The resurgence of the Swat Taliban has also put a question mark over the military’s claim of having cleared the valley of terrorists.

Pakistan has a gripe with Afghanistan over the resurgence of the Swat Taliban as there is ample evidence that many members of the outfit have hideouts in Kunar and Nooristan. Both countries have time and again accused each other of not doing enough to eliminate such hideouts on either side of the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.

As for the possibility of military action in North Waziristan, the Inter Services Public Relations of the armed forces said it would have to be a political decision. This has drawn questions from analysts, with columnist Dilawar Asghar tweeting: “What referendum or consensus was needed for the 1948, 1965, 1971 and 199 wars? So save this consensus nonsense and go into action.”

Even as protests continued across the country — with Muttahida Quami Movement MQM chief Altaf Husain addressing a massive rally in Karachi from London and asking the military to launch go on an all-out war against terrorism — the conspiracy theorists are back in action. They have begun circulating a photograph of Malala and her father with the former U.S. Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, Richard Holbrooke. It is captioned, ‘Malala with the American military leadership,’ the insinuation being that she was a foreign agent.