Malala shooting: 10 men jailed in Pakistan over attack on education campaigner

Ten men have been jailed for 25 years each today in Pakistan for their involvement in the shooting of education campaigner Malala Yousafzai in 2012.

Malala, 17, suffered serious head injuries when she was attacked on her school bus for campaigning against Taliban efforts to deny girls an education.

She was only 15 at the time – but recovered from her injuries to become a world-renowned symbol of the fight for education for all. She delivered a famous speech to the United Nations and went on to win the Nobel Peace Prize last year. 

Malala giving her famous speech to the UN

The Pakistani Taliban admitted they carried out the attack, which also injured her friends Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan. But none of the four or five men who carried out the shooting in the Swat Valley – including chief suspect Ataullah Khan – were among those jailed at an anti-terrorism court (ATC).

An official at the ATC in the Swat District of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said the 10 had been found guilty and each was sentenced to 25 years in prison.

The exact charges against the 10 are not clear but a police official said they “had a role in the planning and execution of the assassination attempt on Malala”.

Malala with refugee child at Jordanian border Picture: Malala Fund

Malala, whose father had been an education campaigner, was only 11 when she began writing a diary for BBC Urdu after a threat by the Taliban to shut down schools that offered education for girls.

She continued to speak out. And in October 2012, gunmen boarded her school bus as she headed home after a day at classes. After asking “Who is Malala?” they shot her in the head.

Malala was flown to the United Kingdom for lifesaving surgery. After recovering from her injuries, she and her family settled in Birmingham, England, where she goes to school.

Malala with her school friends Kainat and Shazia

On July 12, 2013 – known as Malala Day – she gave a historic speech during the first ever Youth Takeover of the United Nations. She famously told world leaders: “One child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world. Education is the only solution.”

See the full text of Malala’s speech to the UN.

In October last year, it was announced that Malala had jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize with children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.

Malala and Kailash with their Nobel Peace Prizes

When they were honoured in Oslo in December, Malala said: “This award is not just for me. It is for those forgotten children who want education. It is for those frightened children who want peace. It is for those voiceless children who want change.

“I am here to stand up for their rights, to raise their voice. It is not time to pity them. It is time to take action so it becomes the last time that we see a child deprived of education.”