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Malala shooter's sister apologises for attack

November 06, 2012 12:24 IST
The sister of a man suspected in the shooting of Malala Yousufzai has apologised to the teenage Pakistani rights activist, saying that her brother had brought shame to their family.

"Please convey a message to Malala, that I apologise for what my brother did to her," Rehana Haleem said, referring to the actions of her 23-year-old brother Attahullah Khan. "He has brought shame on our family. We have lost everything after what he did. What he did was intolerable," Haleem told CNN.

"Malala is just like my sister. I'd like to express my concern for Malala on behalf of my whole family. I hope she recovers soon and returns to a happy and normal life as soon as possible," Haleem said. "I hope Malala doesn't consider me or my family as enemies. I don't consider Attaullah my brother anymore," she added. Police officials have said they are searching for Khan and two other men for the shooting of 15-year-old Malala, who was hit in the head by a bullet, and is now being treated at a British hospital. The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack and the militants have said they will target Malala again.

Since the age of 11, Malala has been encouraging people in the Swat Valley to stand up to the Taliban, who are opposed to the education of girls. Malala and two other girls were injured in the Taliban attack on October 9. A day after the attack, security forces searched Haleem's house and seized documents and pictures. They took Haleem and her family to a nearby house equipped with bars on the doors and windows, she said. The officers asked where her brother was and whether she knew how to reach him by cell phone but Haleem told them she did not.

"I was pregnant and sick. Then, finally, after a day or two, they released me and my husband and told me they were letting me go only because I was sick," she said. After the couple was released, they returned home and Haleem gave birth to a daughter. Five days later, the army again raided the house and took away her husband. Haleem said her husband, her aged mother, her uncle and another brother were in custody. She further said she had little doubt that her brother was involved in the shooting.

"If he was innocent, he would have come back and claimed he was innocent and come to the aid of his mother and our family. His behaviour is that of a guilty man. How could he abandon us?" Haleem asked.

Police said last month that they had arrested six men for the shooting and were still searching for Khan, whom they said was pursuing a master's degree in chemistry. Malala is currently recovering in a hospital at Birmingham in Britain.

Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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