Islamist leader lends voice to Malala conspiracy theories
Leader of Pakistan's largest religious party claims Malala Yousafzai was not injured in Taliban attack
THE LEADER of Pakistan’s largest Islamist political party has lent his voice to a backlash against the official version of events surrounding the attempted murder by the Taliban of schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai.
Fazlur Rehman, the pro-Taliban head of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam party, told a rally in Peshawar at the weekend that the attack on the 15-year-old in the nearby Swat Valley was just a “drama”, AFP reports.
"Pictures shown on social media have shown the whole character as suspicious because there was no sign of injury after the dressing was removed,” he said.
"It shows that the bullet did not hit her in the head."
Malala was attacked last month because of her refusal to stop campaigning for women’s rights.
Doctors at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where Malala was flown to for treatment - including reconstructive surgery - say the Taliban bullet grazed her brain and travelled through her head and neck before lodging in her left shoulder. However, in pictures released by the hospital, the schoolgirl’s head is covered with a towel or veil, which means she looks almost healthy at a casual glance.
Mainstream opinion in Pakistan still holds that Malala is the victim of a vicious assault by backward fundamentalists. But conspiracy theories surrounding the shooting of Malala have been circulating in Pakistan since shortly after the assassination attempt in October – even though the Taliban immediately claimed responsibility.
While Rehman claims Malala was not injured in the attack at all, another prevalent theory, fed by the common belief that the Taliban is controlled by the Pakistani army and secret services, is that the US arranged the hit to whip up public support for drone strikes on the Pakistan Taliban in the lawless tribal area of North Waziristan.
Another, based on the fact that Malala once met the late US envoy Richard Holbrooke, claims that the schoolgirl is an American spy.
According to The Washington Post, a photo of Obama sharing laughing with his aides is circulating on Facebook in Pakistan. The caption reads: "Sir, they still believe that Taliban attacked Malala."