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Taliban must join talks, says Malala’s father

PARIS: The Taliban are fighting a lost cause and must accept peace talks, the father of Malala Yousufzai said on Wednesday, accepting a key French award for the schoolgirl shot for campaigning for girls’ education.

In an impassioned speech after accepting the Simone de Beauvoir Prize for Women’s Freedom on behalf of the 15-year-old, Ziauddin Yousufzai said his daughter was supported by the world and by God.

“She fell but Pakistan stood up. And the whole world – north, south, east and west – supported her,” he said. “God protected her and protected the cause of humanity and education.”

In an attack that shocked the world, Malala was shot in the head by a Taliban hitman as her school van made its way through the town of Mingora in October. The bullet grazed her brain, coming within centimetres of killing her, travelling through her head and neck before lodging in her left shoulder. She was then treated in a British hospital.

Mr Yousufzai said the Taliban should now see the writing on the wall and “learn from this incident.

“They should come to talks and to peace and to humanity,” he said. Referring to Pakistan’s population, he said that if they (Taliban) wanted to impose their will “they will have to kill 180 million people and that’s impossible.”

“In my part of the world, fathers are known by their sons. Daughters are very much neglected. I am one of the few fortunate fathers who are known by their daughter.” Excerpts from Malala’s blog, which earned her the wrath of the Taliban and made her a global icon of courage and hope, were read out to sustained applause.

An entry said: “On my way from school to home I heard a man saying `I will kill you’. I hastened my pace and after a while I looked back to see if the man was still coming behind me. But to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone.” Malala’s father also evoked the plight of an Indian medical student who was brutally gang-raped in New Delhi and died in a Singapore hospital.