LONDON: Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai tells of the moment she was shot by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education in her new autobiography out on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila), amid speculation that she may be about to become the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
Co-written with British journalist Christina Lamb, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban” tells of the 16-year-old’s terror as two gunmen boarded her schoolbus on October 9, 2012 and shot her in the head.
“My friends say he fired three shots, one after another,” she writes.
“By the time we got to the hospital my long hair and Moniba’s lap were full of blood.”
The book describes Malala’s life under the Taliban’s brutal rule in northwest Pakistan’s Swat valley in the mid-2000s, hints at her ambition to enter Pakistani politics, and even describes her father’s brief flirtation with Islamic fundamentalism as a youngster.
Now living in Britain’s second city Birmingham, where she was flown for specialist treatment after the shooting, it also tells of her homesickness and her struggle to adjust to life in England.
A competitive schoolgirl who loves to be top of the class, the book reveals she is a fan of Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber and the “Twilight” series of vampire romance novels. Malala had become well-known in Pakistan as a young campaigner for girls’ right to attend school after the Taliban took control of Swat in 2007, speaking out against the militants’ ban on female education and their bombing of local schools. AFP
She describes how she received death threats in the months before the assassination. “At night I would wait until everyone was asleep,” she writes. “Then I’d check every single door and window.”
She adds: “I don’t know why, but hearing I was being targeted did not worry me. It seemed to me that everyone knows they will die one day. So I should do whatever I want to do.”
The book describes public floggings by the Taliban, their ban on television, dancing and music, and the family’s decision to flee Swat along with nearly one million others in 2009 amid heavy fighting between the militants and Pakistani troops.
Later it details her surgeons’ frantic battle to save her life and her panic at waking up in a hospital thousands of miles from home.
The book is full of praise for Malala’s father Ziauddin Yousafzai, describing how he worked to set up his own school and risked his life by speaking out against the Taliban.