Attaullah Khan, the prime suspect in the shooting of Malala Yousafzai, planned his attack following a meeting with Mullah Fazlullah in Kunar province of Afghanistan, well-placed security officials told The Express Tribune.
According to the officials, Khan is one of two main suspects in the attack which involved a larger group of 12 people. With the main suspects still at large, officials say six facilitators of the attack have been arrested so far.
Officials said they were on the trail of Khan, 23, prime suspect, who is a resident of Swat. Officials add that Khan is pursuing a master’s degree in chemistry in Peshawar. He completed his Bachelor of Science degree in physics at Jahanzeb College in Swat.
The school’s principal, Alam Zeb, condemning the attack, said that Khan had given school officials three or four dates of birth. Zeb said that he was surprised to hear that a former student of the college may have been involved in the gruesome attack on the 14-year-old girl.
In addition to arresting six men, all of them from Swat, the police have also arrested Khan’s mother, brother and fiancée. The suspect’s relatives have not been accused of involvement in the attack but may provide clues to Khan’s whereabouts, a senior official added.
Malala, who spoke against the Taliban, was shot in the head on October 9, 2012, while on her way home from school. The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesperson Eshanullah Ehsan claimed responsibility for the attack.
Internationally recognised for a blog about the horrors of life under the Taliban and a campaign for the right to an education, Malala is the highest-profile target of militants in Swat for more than three years.
Malala Yousafzai, who is currently recovering in the United Kingdom, will return to Pakistan, her father said on Thursday.
Talking to the media, Ziauddin Yousafzai has dispelled the notion that the family would seek asylum abroad.
“I first laughed at it because all of our sacrifices, my personal (sacrifices), or this attack on my daughter, cannot have such a cheap purpose that we would go to some other country and
live the rest of our life there,” he said.
Malala’s father spoke alongside Interior Minister Rehman Malik in Islamabad. Malik promised that the government would protect Malala upon her return. “Even while sitting there, she is taking care of her schooling,” as she asked her father to bring books when he goes to Britain, said Malik.
Earlier, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar met doctors treating Malala at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Iftikhar said that Malala was receiving the ‘best care in the world’. He said the hospital has the most appropriate expertise and experience to treat the injured teenager. (with additional input from news desk)
Published in The Express Tribune, October 26th, 2012.
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