The Taliban may be seeking to hunt down other young girls in the country who, like Malala Yousafzai, have dared to oppose the Taliban’s edicts against education for women. According to a report in this newspaper, another young woman has received threats. Hina Khan, daughter of an ANP leader – Reyatullah Khan – fled Swat with her parents and four younger siblings some years ago so that she could continue her studies and pursue her dream of becoming a doctor. But even in Islamabad, where her parents work with an NGO, it appears Hina has not been left alone. Her father reports to have received death threats against her from a Peshawar number; ominously a red mark has also appeared on the gate of her residence in Islamabad. As per her father’s account, the police have failed to offer any protection even though the matter was reported to them. Like Malala, Hina has also spoken out against the Taliban for opposing women’s right to be educated.
It seems then that young, outspoken girls may be becoming the latest target of the Taliban. Pumping a bullet or two into a girl on her way to school or college is an easy task. Quite evidently it is intended to brutally underscore Maulana Fazalullah’s message against educating girls. The question for the state is how it can protect these girls against assailants who know no humanity and have learnt nothing of what their religion teaches. What happened to Malala should act as a warning, and we must prevent others from being attacked in a similar fashion. It would be foolhardy to treat the threats directed Hina’s way lightly, given that the Taliban are apparently determined to drive home their obscurantist message.