Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Tuesday announced Sitara-e-Shujaat for Malala Yousafzai, who is currently receiving treatment in the UK after being targeted in an attack last week.
The civil award for bravery has been conferred on the child activist for publicly speaking out against the Taliban’s tyrannical stance on education for women.
During a visit to Swat, Malik also announced Pride of Performance awards for a doctor, a nurse and two other technicians who helped save Malala’s life during the initial hours after the attack.
He said that three battalions of the Frontier Corps (FC) would be named after Malala and her two school friends Kainat and Shazia, who also sustained injuries when the van they were travelling in was sprayed with bullets by Taliban gunmen.
Answering a question regarding his earlier statement about the government having no plans of launching an operation in North Waziristan, Malik told journalists: “If the Taliban lay down their arms, we can offer them forgiveness.”
He maintained TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud had already been killed and the outfit would now appoint Mullah Fazlullah in his place.
He also offered a $1 million bounty for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, reported the CNN.
“The images of TTP spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan will be issued to the media very soon. Our borders are completely secure with the Army performing its duties vigilantly. There has also been a steady decrease in cross-border skirmishes,” Malik said.
Malik personally donated Rs300,000 to the Swat Press Club and promised Pride of Performance awards would be conferred upon the four journalists who had lost their lives during the militancy in Swat.
Visit to hospital
Malik earlier visited Kainat at the Saidu Group of Hospitals to inquire after her health and ensure she was being looked after well. Her family had previously maintained the government was not providing any assistance, financial or otherwise.
Upon Kainat’s request to provide a job to her unemployed brother, Malik ordered relevant authorities to give him a job at the District Passport Office. He also promised to support Kainat’s future endeavours in medical studies.
Later, Malik visited Khushal School and College, the institute where Malala and her friends study. He said the alma mater would now be upgraded to secondary level.
He also met the administrators of the girls school and directed them to install state-of-the-art computer and science laboratories.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 17th, 2012.