A New Malala? Militants Threaten Another Pakistani Girl

on October 23 2012 1:57 PM
Yousafzai Vigil
Supporters of Malala Yousafzai Reuters

Another Pakistani teenage girl has been marked for death by militant gunmen for advocating women’s education.

According to a report in the Daily Telegraph newspaper in Britain, Hina Khan, a native of Swat, has been campaigning for girls' schools and has been threatened by local militant groups.

Hina fears she may suffer the same fate as Malala Yousafzai, the critic of the Taliban who was shot in the head earlier this month and became a global icon.

"I can't go to school, I can't go out of the house, I can't even go to the market since these threats," she told the Telegraph.

"I just pray we will all be OK."

A crimson “X” was spray-painted on the door of their house in Islamabad, only to be washed off later.

Hina’s father, Rayatullah, a local peace activist, said the cross was proof-positive that he and his daughter were targets for violence.

The Khans fled the Swat Valley in 2006 just before the Taliban seized control of the region.

“I had left Swat with my family, because the militants had threatened girls' education there, but now I feel I would not be able to go to school in Islamabad as well after these renewed threats,” Hina told the Dawn newspaper of Pakistan.

“I am more worried now because after the attack on Malala, this red cross appearing on our door and subsequent threats to my family has made us more insecure.”

Hina’s mother, Farhat, also attracted the militants’ ire by organizing an exhibition of local handicrafts, the products of which were sold to generate funds for a jobs and training program for women in the Swat region -- an act that challenged traditional views calling for women to remain in the home.

In a chilling phone call to Mr. Khan, he said, the voice on the other end warned: "We are going to kill you. We have been watching your daughter ever since 2008."

Hina, who is 17, declared that the threats will not stop her activism.  

"Girls' education is too important to give up on," she said.

"We always knew the risks and just hope the attack on Malala and the threats against me will turn more people against the extremists and force the government to act."

Her mother reiterated her defiance.

"Of course, there will be more problems now that we have gone public and talked about their threats, but if we don't fight, then who will?" she stated.

However, “We are almost being held as hostages inside our house," she complained. "I want security for my three daughters, two sons and my wife so they can live freely.”

Meanwhile, Malala remains hospitalized in a hospital in Birmingham, England, where she has reportedly been able to stand up, but will need significant rest and recuperation prior to undergoing reconstructive surgery.

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