Malala relives horror of Taliban shooting in autobiography

Published: October 8, 2013
File photo of Malala Yousafzai. PHOTO: RASHID AJMERI/FILE

File photo of Malala Yousafzai. PHOTO: RASHID AJMERI/FILE

LONDON: Malala Yousafzai tells of the moment she was shot by the Taliban for campaigning for girls’ education in her new autobiography out Tuesday, amid speculation that she may be about to become the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

Co-written with British journalist Christina Lamb, “I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban” tells of the 16-year-old’s terror as two gunmen boarded her schoolbus on October 9, 2012 and shot her in the head.

“My friends say he fired three shots, one after another,” she writes.

“By the time we got to the hospital my long hair and Moniba’s lap were full of blood.”

The book describes Malala’s life under the Taliban’s brutal rule in Swat valley in the mid-2000s, hints at her ambition to enter politics, and even describes her father’s brief flirtation with Islamic fundamentalism as a youngster.

Now living in Britain’s second city Birmingham, where she was flown for specialist treatment after the shooting, it also tells of her homesickness and her struggle to adjust to life in England.

A competitive schoolgirl who loves to be top of the class, the book reveals she is a fan of Canadian pop sensation Justin Bieber and the “Twilight” series of vampire romance novels.

Malala had become well-known in Pakistan as a young campaigner for girls’ right to attend school after the Taliban took control of Swat in 2007, speaking out against the militants’ ban on female education and their bombing of local schools.

She describes how she received death threats in the months before the assassination. “At night I would wait until everyone was asleep,” she writes. “Then I’d check every single door and window.”

She adds: “I don’t know why, but hearing I was being targeted did not worry me. It seemed to me that everyone knows they will die one day.

“So I should do whatever I want to do.”

The book describes public floggings by the Taliban, their ban on television, dancing and music, and the family’s decision to flee Swat along with nearly one million others in 2009 amid heavy fighting between the militants and Pakistan Army.

Later it details her surgeons’ frantic battle to save her life and her panic at waking up in a hospital thousands of miles from home.

The book is full of praise for Malala’s father Ziauddin Yousafzai, describing how he worked to set up his own school and risked his life by speaking out against the Taliban.

She angrily rejects criticism that he pushed her too hard to campaign alongside him – “like a tennis dad trying to create a champion” – or has used her as a mouthpiece “as if I don’t have my own mind”.

The book reveals that Malala’s father briefly considered becoming a fighter when he was a teenager and going to fight in neighbouring Afghanistan following the Soviet invasion in 1979.

She also acknowledges that she, like her father, has been the target of considerable criticism at home, with many regarding her as a stooge of the West.

Malala goes on to describe the family’s homesickness and her views on life in England, including her horror when she first saw scantily-clad girls going out at night in Birmingham, and her amazement at seeing men and women socialising openly in coffee shops.

She has struggled to make friends at her English school, she reveals, and still spends hours talking to her friends in Swat using Skype.

However, she adds there is also much to like about life in England – “people follow the rules, they respect policemen and everything happens on time,” she writes. “I see women having jobs we couldn’t imagine in Swat.”

She frequently namechecks the late former prime minister Benazir Bhutto as a heroine, and makes clear her ambition to one day return to her homeland and become a politician – despite continued threats from the Taliban that they will attack her again if given the chance.

“I was spared for a reason – to use my life for helping people,” she writes.

Malala is among the favourites for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, which will be awarded on Friday.

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Reader Comments (31)

  • Khan
    Oct 8, 2013 - 10:27AM

    Malala is the proud daughter of Pakistan. RESPECT.


  • nauman
    Oct 8, 2013 - 10:58AM

    A doctor’s perspective: Forensics of the Malala False Flag Operation:

  • Bunty
    Oct 8, 2013 - 11:19AM

    So she is getting right kind of grooming by our masters… they will give her NOBEL and all awards and send her to rule us and we will vote her in sympathy…

    All what happened was sad… can any doctor here make me understand that hwo could one live after having a bullet of 7mm from max 3 to 5 feets distance…. and if survivies how could one live without any problem…



  • citizen
    Oct 8, 2013 - 12:06PM

    Give Nobel to a deserving . She surely is not . What she did was brave but Nobel prize is big deal . She doesn’t meet the standards of Nobel but still got nominated .I have lost faith in Noble prize nominations . period


  • Randomstranger
    Oct 8, 2013 - 12:07PM


    Yeah we are living in the matrix.


  • ashar
    Oct 8, 2013 - 12:11PM

    Soon we are going to have from her the statements against blasphemy law, huddood law and other Islamic laws for she is being prepared for the fight against religion and modesty by the wast. I feel sorry for her being abused to much.


  • Mj
    Oct 8, 2013 - 12:30PM

    A US congresswoman was also shot in the head and survived. There is a chance of survival if the bullet misses the brain and quick and quality medical response is provided. Peddle your conspiracies somewhere else.


  • someone
    Oct 8, 2013 - 12:34PM

    @citizen….Atleast she did more than what obama did for peace..and he got nobel prize and trashed its prestige…so MALALA deserve this and i Pray she gets it…


  • Ghostrider
    Oct 8, 2013 - 12:48PM

    We have sympathies with her but this is way too much to disgest… it would be first time in the history of the world that we will read an autobiography authored by a 15 year old. Auto biographies are written by people at the twilight of their lives. What can a 15 year old tell us about life and world, she doesnot know anything about world and its dynamics. All she does is she reads out articulate speeches written by some pro.
    It would be appropriate to call it diary of a sympathy seeking kid instead of an auto biography.


  • tanvir
    Oct 8, 2013 - 12:55PM

    enough with this drama malala


  • Voice of Gilgit
    Oct 8, 2013 - 1:08PM

    She is the favorite candidate as she spread the the message” if you educate a girl you educate a family … if you educate a boy you educate a single” and peace will come from books not from bults . But being friends of Taliban Pakistani will not like this .


  • ASDF
    Oct 8, 2013 - 1:09PM

    She has a talent, wisdom and braveness. I acknowledge and endorse after seeing her interview with BBC, she was precise, to the point and right in direction.
    If she comes back to Pakistan, I shall vote her, not in sympathy but for her talent.


  • Khurram
    Oct 8, 2013 - 2:00PM

    She is getting on my nerves.


  • Raja Feroze
    Oct 8, 2013 - 2:07PM

    What non sense.. :/ Nobel Prize ? seriously…. :/
    dont they know, Liking justin bieber is a crime…. –– how could they still nominate her for the nobel prize.. she should be exiled for representing pakistan and stating she is a fan of justin bieber.. –


  • Murad Malik
    Oct 8, 2013 - 2:24PM

    can we be over and done with this Malala hype please. It was horrible wutever those ttp animals did. But please lets be done with it, there are million more malalas in Pakistan lets work for their prosperity. Malala suffered and thank God she is out of her predicament. Now just lets all give it a rest. Its getting too much and frankly its losing its effect now too. So lets move on shall we please, and advice to malala, beta buhat ho gaya, focus on your education and life, you still have a long way to go, you are only 15, dont get into all this.


  • arthurzobo
    Oct 8, 2013 - 2:29PM

    @Bunty.Stop your conspiracy theories like a typical Pakistani and start believing in a Power that is more Powerful than the one on Earth!I suppose you do not believe that God certainly protects that which he does not want destroyed at that time.Her survival and recovery should be an eye opener to you rather than give birth to moronic ideas!


  • Visionist
    Oct 8, 2013 - 2:32PM

    Why there is no Nobel Peace Prize for respectable Abdul Sattar Edhi


  • sattar rind
    Oct 8, 2013 - 2:41PM

    I hope she would be awarded noble prizeRecommend

  • jiyala
    Oct 8, 2013 - 2:44PM

    “Book reveal­s the teenag­e activi­st is a fan of Justin Bieber and the ‘Twilig­ht’ series.”

    You too, Brutus?


  • Oct 8, 2013 - 3:19PM

    Everything aside. She likes Justin Beiber …a namahram Kafir. And on top of that, she likes masochist novels like Twilight. That’s blasphemous.


  • Rohit Kumar
    Oct 8, 2013 - 4:47PM

    Allah Bless you ! Yes you would be awarded by Noble Prize


    Oct 8, 2013 - 5:18PM

    @Sarah B. Haider:
    ummmm…its her choice whats she likes and does.. how on earth does it EVEN concern you. NO ONES PERFECT im sure you’re not.. and A lot of muslims like this stuff.. get over it…


  • Eddied
    Oct 8, 2013 - 5:21PM

    I sincerely hope she stays in England and receives a good education before returning to. Pakistan ones day as a leader….she has demonstrated courage beyond her years…those who criticize her successful recovery and progress toward improving education for girls are small minded followers of backward cultures…I am delighted to read her observations of life in the UK where women are free to go to the market without male chaperone…welcome to the 21st century Malala!….we love you and what you stand for!…


  • Tahir
    Oct 8, 2013 - 6:43PM

    You are very cynical. She is a child with one motivation, to be educated and be successful.
    She has never made un-islamic comments. Education is a dream for every child and you should change your perspective. How can a person shoot a child holding books where the only want is education? The fact allah swt saved her to carry the message of education for all children in pakistan tells us the Taleban are un-islamic and not preferred in allah’s swt world.


  • Faiz
    Oct 8, 2013 - 9:05PM

    Eat your hearts out, guys! Malala rocks! If she is getting on your nerves, you are suffering from extreme jealousy. Just grow up, be brave to at least acknowledge her bravery. She wins a Nobel prize or she doesn’t, doesn’t matter; she has won hearts of the people across the world–and has burnt many more in the ‘land of pures.’


  • csmann
    Oct 8, 2013 - 9:15PM

    Judging by the comments here,the only thing that could be said is that Pakistan deserves Taliban,and needs to be in the mess it is in.The future of Pakistan is written all over here,that is if it survives.


  • csmann
    Oct 8, 2013 - 9:44PM

    And this gentleman thinks himself to be a doctor.DArk minds sure can go through medical schools,and pretend to be healers!!A deserving wound to a deserving people!!!


  • Oct 8, 2013 - 11:26PM

    Well, I am not happy to hear that you are the fan of Justin Bieber, You are deviating from the path of Islam. Little girl you must mend your way.

    Haseeb Ahmad Ayazi
    CEO and Founder
    Voice Of Muslim Ummah


  • Oct 8, 2013 - 11:36PM

    @INDIVIDUALITY: That was sarcasm, BTW


  • csmann
    Oct 9, 2013 - 3:35AM

    @Haseeb Ahmad Ayazi:
    Nothing wrong in deluding oneself to be the voice of Ummah!!


  • individuality
    Oct 9, 2013 - 4:03PM

    @Sarah B. Haider:
    dude she like what she wants how does it matter to you…… ok and lots of muslims like this stuff, STOP JUDGING LOOK at yourself then judge…


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