The Pakistan Taliban has issued a fresh threat to kill Malala Yousafzai, almost a year to the day since two assassins failed in their murder attempt on the schoolgirl. Malala, who is now 16, has been recovering in Britain where she needed extensive surgery after being shot in the head as she left school in her home town in the Swat Valley.
A spokesmperson for the Taliban said its leaders stood by their decision to kill a girl whom he said had undermined Islam with a secular campaign. "We are not against Malala herself but we are against her ideology," Shahidullah Shahid told The Daily Telegraph by telephone from a secret location.
"Anyone who campaigns against our religion and criticises Islam, like she is doing with her secular ideology, is our enemy and so we will target her again and again." In the past year, the teenager has been catapulted on to the international stage and today she will publish her autobiography, entitled I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up For Education And Was Shot By The Taliban, a day before the anniversary of the attack. She is also among the front runners for the Nobel Peace Prize, which is due to be announced on Friday.
In an interview with the BBC's Panorama programme last night, Malala, who now lives in Birmingham, said it was time to talk to the Taliban in order to find peace. She added that she wanted to return home one day to become a politician, "to change the future of my country and make education compulsory".
Although Malala has won admirers around the world, a visit to her home town of Mingora, by The Daily Telegraph found that many were suspicious of her motives, describing her as agent of the West or expressing envy at the way she was granted a British visa for treatment. Abdul Khaliq, a teacher at a school just outside the town, called her a "mouthpiece" for America and Britain.
"The so-called education campaign by Malala is just eyewash," he said. Many asked why she - and two other friends caught up in the shooting - were allowed into Britain. Mustafa Shah, a teacher at the Degree College Swat, said: "All the three girls have gone for free education but what about thousands others who are at still at the sharp end, travelling to and from school every day?"