WASHINGTON: Two US senators have urged Pakistan to redouble its efforts to punish those who attempted to assassinate Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai.
Senators Marco Rubio and Barbara Boxer expressed deep concern over the recent acquittal of eight of the 10 suspects.
“We urge the government of Pakistan to redouble its efforts, in a transparent and public manner, to bring those responsible for this brutal attack to justice,” they said in a letter to Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Jalil Abbas Jilani. The letter sent on June 29 was released to the media on Tuesday.
Mr Rubio, a Republican, chairs the United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere, and Ms Boxer, a Democrat, is its ranking member.
The two senators noted that in April, Pakistani officials announced that after a secret trial, all 10 suspects were found guilty for their roles in the attack against Malala and were given 25-year prison sentences.
They said that although they had serious concerns about the trial’s lack of transparency and general absence of information regarding the cases against the 10 individuals, they welcomed the announcement.
“We were encouraged to hear that the Pakistani judicial system was actively working to hold those responsible for this heinous act,” they wrote.
“That is why we are particularly alarmed by recent media reports that eight of the 10 convicted were actually acquitted of these charges against them,” they added.
The senators argued that the acquittal had raised “significant concerns about the transparency and the accountability of the Pakistani judicial system”.
As such, “we respectfully request that the Pakistani judicial system provide an honest and transparent accounting of the events surrounding the cases against these 10 individuals and continue its important work to bring all those responsible for the brutal attack against an innocent teenage girl to justice,” they said.
Malala is the youngest recipient of Nobel Prize.
In 2012, while she was riding home from school, Taliban terrorists boarded her school bus, asked for her by name, and shot her in the head.
This forced her to leave Pakistan for surgery. She now lives in Britain but travels across the globe, campaigning for her cause.
The US lawmakers wrote that the Taliban targeted Malala because of her public advocacy for the right of women and girls to receive education.
“Extremists’ efforts to silence the fifteen-year-old activist were in vain. Despite all odds, Malala, who is now seventeen, has continued to champion the cause of girls’ education, an act that earned her the Noble Peace Prize in 2014,” they noted.