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At least 20 people have been killed by a bomb blast that struck a busy market on the outskirts of Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, police and medics say.
The high intensity blast at the fruit and vegetable market left as many as 100 injured, reports say.
The Pakistani Taliban has denied involvement. No other group has said it carried out the attack.
There is currently a ceasefire between the Pakistani Taliban and the government as part of peace efforts.
Pakistan’s PM Nawaz Sharif condemned Wednesday’s bombing.
At least 20 people have been killed by the bomb blast that struck a busy market on the outskirts of Pakistan’s capital (photo AFP/Getty Images)
He said it was an effort by Pakistan’s enemies to destabilize the country, but that the government would remain resolute in its efforts for peace, according to his office.
The latest reports from hospitals in the area say as many as 100 people were injured.
An AFP reporter at the scene said the blast caused a 5ft-wide crater in the ground, which was littered with body parts.
The bombing reportedly happened in the Sabzi Mandi area of the capital about 08:00 local time, one of the busiest times of day for the wholesale fruit and vegetable market.
Police said the explosives were hidden in a box of fruit.
In a statement, the Pakistani Taliban (TTP) said it strongly condemned the attack.
“The killing of innocent people in attacks on public places is regrettable and prohibited by Islam,” it said.
Correspondents say the TTP sits at the helm of a loose network of territorially independent militant groups who have different agendas. Not all of them will favor peace talks.
The blast comes a day after 13 people were killed in a bomb attack by separatists in Balochistan province. The long-running insurgency in Balochistan is separate to the Taliban campaign which has raged inside Pakistan since 2008.
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Pakistan’s government has a formal meeting with a Taliban-nominated team in Islamabad, officials say.
The talks are aimed at charting a “roadmap” for negotiations that will try to end a decade-long insurgency.
The government set out five conditions, including ending hostilities, saying a “journey for peace” had started.
The Taliban team agreed to travel to the north-west to discuss the conditions with the leadership.
Militants from the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have been waging an insurgency inside Pakistan since 2007.
The talks initiative was announced last week by PM Nawaz Sharif, following a spate of attacks.
More than 100 people, including soldiers, died in Taliban attacks across the country in January. Thousands have been killed since the TTP came to the fore in 2007.
The first session lasted about three hours at Khyber Pakhtunkhwa House in Islamabad.
Pakistan’s government has a formal meeting with a Taliban-nominated team in Islamabad
The head of the Taliban team, Maulana Sami ul-Haq, read out a joint statement afterwards.
The statement listed five basic conditions that had been set out by the government side:
- All talks be held within the framework of the constitution
- The scope of the talks should remain confined to areas affected by violence, not the whole country
- All hostilities should cease during talks
- The Taliban should clarify the role of a separate nine-member committee that they have established
- The talks should not be protracted
The Taliban team agreed to travel to Miranshah in the north-west to take the conditions to the leadership and pledged to report back to the government committee as soon as possible.
Both committees agreed that neither side should initiate an act that might damage the talks process.
The statement also said that the Taliban side had sought clarification on the power and mandate of the government committee involved in the talks, and whether it could accept and act on demands made by the Taliban.
Both sides condemned recent violence.
The chief negotiator for the government side, Irfan Siddiqui, said: “Today, we started the journey for peace, and both sides have agreed to complete it as soon as possible.”
The Taliban want to see Sharia (Islamic law) imposed throughout Pakistan and US troops to withdraw from the region.
Since taking office last May, Nawaz Sharif has come under mounting pressure to bring the violence under control, with many accusing his government of lacking a strategy to deal with the militants, correspondents say.
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Taliban negotiators in Pakistan have condemned the failure of government representatives to meet them in Islamabad, as preliminary peace efforts got off to a chaotic start.
The government side had asked for clarification about the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) team.
The militants have been waging an insurgency inside Pakistan since 2007.
Later, a bomb outside a hotel in a Shia neighborhood of the north-western city of Peshawar left at least eight dead.
Taliban negotiators in Pakistan have condemned the failure of government representatives to meet them in Islamabad
Twenty-six people were injured in the blast which Shafqat Malik, leader of the police Bomb Disposal Unit, said was a suicide attack.
The government and Taliban representatives had been due to start charting a “roadmap” for talks.
Many observers were puzzled by the government side’s approach. The Taliban swiftly made clear there were to be no additions to their team, and urged the government side to begin talks and see for themselves whether the team had a mandate.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the talks initiative last week, following a spate of attacks.
In January more than 100 people, including many soldiers, died in Taliban attacks across the country. Thousands have been killed in recent years.
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A Pakistani bomb blast that struck an army convoy in north-western part of the country has killed at least 20 soldiers, sources in the security forces say.
At least 24 others were injured in the explosion near the town of Bannu, with fears the death toll will rise.
The source of the explosion is still being investigated.
Pakistan’s Taliban said they had carried out the attack as part of a “fight against a secular system” and promised “many more such attacks”.
At least 20 soldiers have been killed in north-western Pakistan in a bomb blast that struck an army convoy
Soldiers and paramilitary Frontier Corps were preparing to leave Bannu, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, for Razmak in North Waziristan when their convoy was rocked by the blast.
“The explosion took place in one of the vehicles of the convoy,” an unnamed senior security official told AFP.
“We are trying to ascertain the exact nature of the explosion, whether it was a planted device or a suicide attack.”
A military source told Reuters news agency the soldiers had been travelling in a hired civilian vehicle.
Speaking to Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location, Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said: “With the help of God we claim responsibility for this.
“The army is our enemy. We will carry out many more attacks like this again.”
Last week, a senior police officer known for campaigning against the militants was killed in a bomb blast in Karachi.
Malala Yousafzai’s book has been banned from private schools across Pakistan, education officials said on Sunday.
The Pakistani officials claim the teenage activist’s book doesn’t show enough respect for Islam and called her a tool of the West.
Malala Yousafzai attracted global attention last year when the Taliban shot her in the head in northwest Pakistan for criticizing the group’s interpretation of Islam, which limits girls’ access to education.
Her profile has risen steadily since then, and she released a memoir in October, I Am Malala, that was co-written with British journalist Christina Lamb.
While Malala Yousafzai has become a hero to many across the world for opposing the Taliban and standing up for girls’ education, conspiracy theories have flourished in Pakistan that her shooting was staged to create a hero for the West to embrace.
Adeeb Javedani, president of the All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association, said his group banned Malala Yousafzai’s book from the libraries of its 40,000 affiliated schools and called on the government to bar it from school curriculums.
“Everything about Malala is now becoming clear,” Adeeb Javedani said.
Malala Yousafzai’s book has been banned from private schools across Pakistan
“To me, she is representing the West, not us.”
Kashif Mirza, the chairman of the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation, said his group also has banned Malala Yousafzai’s book in its affiliated schools.
Malala Yousafzai “was a role model for children, but this book has made her controversial,” Kashif Mirza said.
“Through this book, she became a tool in the hands of the Western powers.”
He said the book did not show enough respect for Islam because it mentioned Prophet Muhammad’s name without using the abbreviation PUH – “peace be upon him” – as is customary in many parts of the Muslim world. He also said it spoke favorably of author Salman Rushdie, who angered many Muslims with his book The Satanic Verses, and Ahmadis, members of a minority sect that have been declared non-Muslims under Pakistani law.
In her reference to Salman Rushdie, Malala Yousfzai said in the book that her father saw The Satanic Verses as “offensive to Islam but believes strongly in the freedom of speech.”
“First, let’s read the book and then why not respond with our own book,” the book quoted her father as saying.
Malala Yousafzai mentioned in the book that Pakistan’s population of 180 million people includes more than 2 million Ahmadis, “who say they are Muslim though our government says they are not”.
“Sadly those minority communities are often attacked,” the book said, referring also to Pakistan’s 2 million Christians.
The conspiracy theories around Malala Yousafzai reflect the level of influence that right-wing Islamists sympathetic to the Taliban have in Pakistan. They also reflect the poor state of education in Pakistan, where fewer than half the country’s children ever complete a basic, primary education.
Millions of children attend private school throughout the country because of the poor state of the public system.
The Taliban blew up scores of schools and discouraged girls from getting an education when they took over the Swat Valley, where Malala Yousafzai lived, several years ago. The army staged a large ground offensive in Swat in 2009 that pushed many militants out of the valley, but periodic attacks still occur.
The mastermind of the attack on Malala Yousafzai, Mullah Fazlullah, recently was appointed the new head of the Pakistani Taliban after the former chief was killed in a US drone strike.
Mullah Fazlullah has been named as Pakistan’s Taliban new leader, after the death of Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone attack, a spokesman has said.
Mullah Fazlullah is a particularly hardline commander whose men shot the schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai.
Hakimullah Mehsud was killed when missiles struck his vehicle in the North Waziristan region on 1 November.
Pakistan’s government accused the US of destroying its attempts to start peace talks with the Taliban.
Interior Minister Chaudry Nisar Ali Khan said that the drone strike was “not just the killing of one person, it’s the death of all peace efforts”.
The announcement of the new leader was made by the Taliban’s caretaker leader Asmatullah Shaheen at a news conference at an undisclosed location.
Mullah Fazlullah has been named as Pakistan’s Taliban new leader, after the death of Hakimullah Mehsud in a drone attack
When the news was announced, there was reportedly heavy celebratory gunfire in the area around Miranshah, the main town in the tribal area of North Waziristan.
Mullah Fazlullah led a brutal campaign in Swat between 2008 and 2009, enforcing hardline Islamic law that included burning schools, and public floggings and beheadings.
A military operation was launched to retake the area.
Mullah Fazlullah fled over the border into Afghanistan but Islamabad says he has continued to orchestrate attacks in Pakistan.
He was accused of being behind a roadside bomb in September that killed Major General Sanaullah Niazi, the top commander in Swat, along with two other military personnel.
Mullah Fazlullah was known for his radio broadcasts calling for strict Islamic laws and earning him the nickname “Mullah Radio”.
The shooting of Malala Yousafzai in October 2012 sparked outrage in Pakistan and across the globe.
The teenager had spoken out against the Taliban’s restrictions on girls’ education.
The Pakistani government said a delegation had been due to fly to North Waziristan to discuss peace talks with Hakimullah Mehsud but he was killed in the drone strike the day before.
There had been some hope the new leader of the Taliban would be more open to the peace initiative.
Regional Taliban commander Khan Said Sajna, said to favor such a move, had been touted as a favorite before the latest announcement.
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Pakistan’s Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has said the death of Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud has destroyed the country’s nascent peace process.
“This is not just the killing of one person, it’s the death of all peace efforts,” Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said.
Pakistan has summoned the US ambassador to protest over Friday’s drone strike that killed Hakimullah Mehsud.
The move came a day before a Pakistani delegation had been due to fly to North Waziristan to meet Hakimullah Mehsud.
Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan accused the US of “scuttling” efforts to begin peace talks, and said “every aspect” of Pakistan’s co-operation with Washington would be reviewed.
Information Minister Pervez Rashid said: “The US has tried to attack the peace talks with this drone but we will not let them fail.”
Pakistan has summoned the US ambassador to protest over Friday’s drone strike that killed Hakimullah Mehsud
Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif had pledged to talk with the Taliban to try to end its campaign of violence, which has left thousands dead in bombings and shootings across the country.
Hakimullah Mehsud was killed along with four other people – including two of his bodyguards – when four missiles struck their vehicle in the north-western region of North Waziristan, a senior Taliban official confirmed.
Pakistani media say Hakimullah Mehsud’s funeral has taken place at an unknown location in the tribal area of North Waziristan.
A Pakistani Taliban spokesman, Azam Tariq, vowed revenge, as Pakistan’s security forces were put on high alert.
“Every drop of Hakimullah’s blood will turn into a suicide bomber,” he said.
“America and their friends shouldn’t be happy because we will take revenge for our martyr’s blood.”
The Taliban’s ruling council met on Saturday to choose a new leader. Unconfirmed reports say regional commander Khan Said Sajna has been elected to the top job.
As well as Hakimullah Mehsud, the previous Pakistan Taliban leader was killed in a drone strike, in 2009.
Caitlin Hayden, a spokesperson for the US president’s National Security Council, would not comment on any US government involvement or confirm the death but said it would be a serious loss for the group.
The Pakistan government has strongly condemned the drone attack as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.
Hakimullah Mehsud’s death is seen as another setback for the militant group after the recent capture of a senior commander by US forces in Afghanistan.
Hakimullah Mehsud, who led the insurgency from North Waziristan, had a $5 million FBI bounty on his head and was thought to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.
He came to prominence in 2007 as a commander under the militant group’s founder Baitullah Mehsud, with the capture of 300 Pakistani soldiers adding to his prestige among the militants.
Pakistan Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud has been killed in a drone strike.
The strike targeted a vehicle used by Hakimullah Mehsud with four missiles in the north-western region of North Waziristan.
Four other people were killed in the strike, including two of Hakimullah Mehsud’s bodyguards, intelligence sources say.
Several previous claims of his death, made by US and Pakistani intelligence sources, have proven untrue.
Pakistan’s government has issued a statement strongly condemning the drone attack, saying such strikes were a “violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity”.
Friday’s strike targeted Hakimullah Mehsud’s vehicle in the Dande Darpakhel, some 3 miles north of the region’s main town, Miranshah.
A senior US intelligence official told the Associated Press that the US received positive confirmation on Friday morning that he had been killed.
Hakimullah Mehsud had a $5 million FBI bounty on his head and was thought to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of people
Hakimullah Mehsud had come to prominence in 2007 as a commander under the militant group’s founder Baitullah Mehsud, with the capture of 300 Pakistani soldiers adding to his prestige among the militants.
In January 2010 Hakimullah Mehsud gained further notoriety when he appeared in a video alongside a Jordanian who is said to have blown himself up, killing seven CIA agents in Afghanistan to avenge Baitullah Mehsud’s death.
Hakimullah Mehsud had a $5 million FBI bounty on his head and was thought to be responsible for the deaths of thousands of people.
He became leader of the Pakistani Taliban in 2009, aged 30, after his predecessor Baitullah Mehsud died in a US drone strike at his father-in-law’s residence in South Waziristan.
The strike against Baitullah Mehsud reportedly came after repeated complaints by Pakistani officials that the Americans were not hitting militant groups who attacked targets in Pakistan.
Waliur Rehman, his second-in-command, died in a drone strike in May.
The attack targeting him comes on the same day that the Pakistani government announced it was about to send a delegation to North Waziristan to try to get peace negotiations with the Taliban under way.
Pakistani PM Nawaz Sharif had pledged to talk with the Taliban to try to end its campaign of violence, which has left thousands dead in bombings and shootings across the country.
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Pakistani schoolgirl campaigner Malala Yousafzai has met President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House in the Oval Office.
The First Family thanked Malala Yousafzai, 16, who was shot in the head last year by the Taliban, for her “inspiring and passionate work” for girls’ education.
Malia Obama, 15, also attended the meeting.
The White House said the US celebrated Malala Yousafzai’s courage and determination to promote girls’ right to attend school.
Malala Yousafzai has met President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama at the White House in the Oval Office
“As the First Lady has said, <<Investing in girls’ education is the very best thing we can do, not just for our daughters and granddaughters, but for their families, their communities, and their countries>>,” the White House said in a statement.
On Thursday, Malala Yousafzai was awarded the EU’s Sakharov human rights prize. Although she had been tipped for the Nobel Peace Prize, on Friday that went to the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the body overseeing the destruction of Syria’s chemical arsenal.
A native of Pakistan’s mountainous Swat Valley, Malala Yousafzai rose to prominence in 2009 after writing an anonymous blog for the BBC Urdu service about her life under Taliban rule and the lack of education for girls.
Malala Yousafzai’s name became internationally known after the Pakistan army pushed the Taliban out of the area in 2009.
The Taliban’s Islamist doctrine puts harsh restrictions on women’s rights and one of the militants shot her last year as she was riding in a bus with school friends.
After the attack, Malala Yousafzai was flown to the UK for medical treatment and now lives in Birmingham, where she is going to school.
Pakistan Taliban commander Latif Mehsud has been captured by US forces in a military operation, the state department has confirmed.
Spokeswoman Marie Harf described Latif Mehsud as a “terrorist leader” and a “senior commander” in the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan.
Marie Harf gave no details of the operation.
She said he was a close confidante of the group’s leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, who this week gave a rare interview to the BBC about possible peace talks.
Marie Harf said the Pakistan Taliban (TTP) were held responsible for the attempted bombing of Times Square in 2010, as well as attacks on US diplomats in Pakistan and many Pakistani civilians.
The group “had also vowed to attack the US homeland again,” Marie Harf said.
Pakistan Taliban commander Latif Mehsud has been captured by US forces in a military operation,
An Afghan provincial official earlier told Associated Press news agency that Latif Mehsud was arrested as he was driving on a highway in Afghanistan’s eastern Logar province.
The arrest took place about a week ago, the official said.
Latif Mehsud was reportedly returning from a meeting to discuss swapping prisoners.
The Washington Post said that US forces had taken him from Afghan intelligence agents who were trying to recruit him as a go-between for peace talks.
A spokesman for President Hamid Karzai, Aimal Faizi, told the Post: “The Americans forcibly removed him and took him to Bagram.”
Aimal Faizi said Latif Mehsud had only agreed to meet Afghan operatives after months of negotiations.
Some reports say Hamid Karzai, who is currently holding talks with visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry, was furious about the US operation.
Latif Mehsud and Hakimullah Mehsud are not thought to be related.
In a rare interview, Hakimullah Mehsud denied carrying out recent deadly attacks in public places but said he would continue to target “America and its friends”.
The chief loosely controls more than 30 militant groups in Pakistan’s tribal areas.
After being elected PM in May, Nawaz Sharif announced he would open unconditional talks with the Taliban.
The group has killed thousands of people in its war against the Pakistani state in recent years.
They control areas in the north-west and have been blamed for a wave of suicide bombings and other attacks.
Along with Pakistan, the Afghan government has also made overtures for peace with the Taliban. A number of Taliban prisoners have been freed to smooth the process.
US attempts in June to talk to the Taliban, including the opening of a now-shut Taliban office in Qatar, infuriated Hamid Karzai.
NATO has handed over security for the whole of Afghanistan for the first time since the Taliban were ousted in 2001.
At a ceremony in Kabul, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said that from Wednesday “our own security and military forces will lead all the security activities”.
Observers say the best soldiers in the Afghan army are up to the task but there are lingering doubts about some.
International troops will remain in Afghanistan until the end of 2014, providing military back-up when needed.
The ceremony came shortly after a suicide bomb attack in western Kabul killed three employees of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission and wounded more than 20.
The attacker was believed to be targeting the convoy of prominent politician and Hazara leader Haji Mohammad Mohaqiq, who escaped with light injuries.
Meanwhile, sources close to Taliban representatives have confirmed to the BBC that they are opening an office in the Qatari capital Doha, possibly as early as Tuesday. It is seen as an important stage in establishing a political face for the movement.
The Taliban has in the past refused talks with Hamid Karzai’s government, calling it a puppet of the US. But the Afghan president said on Tuesday he is sending representatives to Qatar to discuss peace talks with the movement.
Hamid Karzai has been outspoken about his upset at previous US and Qatari efforts to kick-start the peace process without properly consulting his government.
There is also concern within the presidential palace that the Taliban will use the political office in Qatar to raise funds.
NATO has handed over security for the whole of Afghanistan for the first time since the Taliban were ousted in 2001
Tuesday’s ceremony saw the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) hand over control of the last 95 districts in a transition process that began in 2011.
The last remaining districts included 13 in Kandahar province – the birthplace of the Taliban – and 12 each in Nangarhar, Khost and Paktika, all bastions of insurgent activity along the border with Pakistan.
Hamid Karzai called it an historic day and a moment of personal pride.
“This has been one of my greatest desires and pursuits, and I am glad that I, as an Afghan citizen and an Afghan president, have reached this objective today,” he said.
He reiterated a shift in military strategy, ruling out the future use of air strikes on what he called Afghan homes and villages; the issue of NATO air strikes and civilian casualties has long been a sensitive one.
NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Afghan forces were taking up the role with “remarkable resolve” but said there was still 18 months of hard work ahead for ISAF troops.
“We will continue to help Afghan troops in operations if needed, but we will no longer plan, execute or lead those operations, and by the end of 2014 our combat mission will be completed,” he said.
The number of Afghan security forces has been gradually increasing from fewer than 40,000 six years ago to nearly 350,000 today.
However, as it has taken over more responsibility for security, the Afghan army has suffered a sharp rise in casualties.
By comparison, international coalition casualties have been steadily falling since 2010.
A high desertion rate among Afghan forces has also meant that thousands of new recruits are needed each month to fill its ranks.
In recent Taliban attacks on the capital Kabul, Afghan rapid reaction police tackled the insurgents without having to call in ISAF forces.
The number of ISAF forces in Afghanistan peaked in 2011 at about 140,000, which included about 101,000 US troops.
ISAF currently has about 97,000 troops in the country from 50 contributing nations, the bulk of whom – some 68,000 – are from the US.
By the end of 2014 all combat troops should have left to be replaced – if approved by the Afghan government – by a smaller force that will only train and advise.
The pressure on contributing nations to withdraw their troops has been exacerbated by a series of “green-on-blue” attacks in which members of the Afghan security forces have killed coalition troops.
At least 60 NATO personnel died in such attacks in 2012. Many more Afghan security force members have died at the hands of their colleagues, in so-called “green-on-green” attacks.
US President Barack Obama has not yet said how many troops he will leave in Afghanistan along with other NATO forces at the end of 2014.
Washington has said that the Afghan government will get the weapons it needs to fight the insurgency including a fleet of MI-17 transport helicopters, cargo planes and ground support airplanes.
Aesha Mohammadzai has made international headlines in 2010 when she appeared on the now-iconic cover of Time magazine with a gaping wound in the center of her face where a nose should be.
Aesha Mohammadzai’s tragic tale of mutilation and abuse is well known by now: her Taliban husband and his family chopped off her nose and ears to punish her for trying to escape the family compound in Afghanistan.
The girl, known also as Bibi Aisha, was left for dead in the mountains, but survived and was brought for treatment to an American military base. A charity organization eventually helped bring Aesha Mohammadzai to the US, where she was taken in by an Afghan family from Maryland, CNN reported.
Over the past year, the raven-haired, vivacious young woman has undergone a serious of painful surgeries and treatments that have set the stage for Aesha Mohammadzai getting a new nose.
“It was very difficult in the beginning, but then I got used to it,” Aesha Mohammadzai told CNN.
Now, 22-year-old Aesha Mohammadzai is only a few minor procedures away from her dream becoming a reality. This summer, she will have a new face, but she will still have many challenges ahead of her.
Back in Afghanistan, Aesha Mohammadazi was not allowed to attend school and as a teenager was forced into marriage by her father, serving as a peace offering to the family of her new husband to make up for her uncle’s transgressions.
In 2011, Aesha Mohammadzai arrived in the US unable to read or write in any language. While her adoptive family, the Arsalas, say that she is a bright girl, they admit that she can be impulsive and easily distracted, preferring to work on her line of jewelery or watch movies on her laptop rather than study her ABCs.
Aesha Mohammadzai has been living with Mati Arsala, his wife Jamila Rasouli-Arsala and their daughter since November 2012, nearly two years after she arrived in the US.
She told CNN that people in Maryland often laugh at her because of her nose, but she responds to questions about what happened to her with: “It’s none of your business.”
Her first few months in the US Aesha Mohammadzai had spent in California preparing for reconstructive surgery, which ended up being scrapped because she was deemed too emotionally volatile.
She then spent several months in New York at a group home for Afghan women, where she was offered therapy and English classes, before finally moving to Frederick, Maryland, to live with the Arsalas.
Aesha Mohammadzai has made international headlines in 2010 when she appeared on the now-iconic cover of Time magazine with a gaping wound in the center of her face where a nose should be
Her first surgery took place last June, making it her first step towards getting a new nose. Over the past 11 months, Aesha Mohammadzai had the skin on her forehead expanded to provide doctors with additional tissue for her new nose.
Surgeons at Walter Reed Medical Center, where she has been treated free of charge, also had to take skin, bone and cartilage grafts from various parts of her body in preparation for her reconstructive surgery.
To avoid the risk of contracting an infection, Aesha Mohammadzai has been staying indoors, which led her to stop going to her weekly English classes. These days, she stays up late at night watching Bollywood films and sleeps during the day.
In the coming months, Aesha Mohammadzai’s nose will be complete, at which point doctors will be able to move on to her mutilated ears.
Aesha Mohammadzai ‘s surrogate parents say that they want to give her more time to heal both physically and emotionally, but once her face is whole again, Aesha will have to move forward and forge her own path in her adoptive country.
As part of Aesha Mohammadzai ‘s life-changing treatment, her forehead has ballooned and dark, drooping flesh covered the space where her nose once was – before her husband sliced it off.
Doctors placed an inflatable silicone shell under the skin of her forehead and gradually filled it with fluid in order to expand her skin and provide them with extra tissue for her new nose.
They have also taken tissue from her forearm and transplanted it to her face to form the inner lining and lower part of the nose.
Aesha Mohammadzai ‘s wounds are healing, but she lives with the scars of an ordeal few could imagine. Speaking for the first time on television to ITV’s Daybreak in February, she told the story behind that Time photograph.
She said: “Every day I was abused by my husband and his family. Mentally and physically. Then one day it became unbearable so I ran away.
“They caught me and put me in jail for five months. When I came out the judge sent me back to my husband. That night they took me to the mountains.
“They tied my hands and my feet. They said my punishment was to cut my nose and ears. And then they started to do it.”
Aesha Mohammadzai, who has never attended school or celebrated her birthday, now lives in America. Helped out of Afghanistan by a charity, she now has a new family who care for her as one of their own.
She said she is “happy” with her new nose and wants her experience to tell a new story, this time one of hope.
She said: “I want to tell all women who are suffering abuse to be strong. Never give up and don’t lose hope.”
Aesha Mohammadzai’s story was first told in August 2010 by Time magazine, who published a harrowing cover photo of her – horrifying people around the world and symbolizing the oppression of Afghan women.
When she was 12, her father promised her in marriage to a Taliban fighter to pay a debt.
Aesha Mohammadzai was handed over to his family who abused her and forced her to sleep in the stable with the animals.
The UN estimates that nearly 90% of Afghanistan’s women suffer from some sort of domestic abuse.
But when Aesha Mohammadzai attempted to flee, she was caught and her nose and ears were hacked off by her husband as punishment.
“When they cut off my nose and ears, I passed out. In the middle of the night it felt like there was cold water in my nose.
“I opened my eyes and I couldn’t even see because of all the blood,” she told CNN reporter Atia Abawi.
Left for dead in the mountains, she crawled to her grandfather’s house and her father managed to get her to an American medical facility, where medics cared for her for ten weeks.
They then transported Aesha Mohammadzai to a secret shelter in Kabul and in August 2010, she was flown to the U.S. by the Grossman Burn Foundation to stay with a host family.
She was taken in by a charity in New York called Women for Afghan Women who supported her and helped pay for her education.
But Aesha Mohammadzai soon became unhappy and her behavior gave rise to concern. During one outburst during, she threw herself to the floor and slammed her head against the ground, grabbing at her hair and biting her fingers.
Her primary guardian figure at the center Esther Hyneman, who witnessed the tantrum said no one was able to prevent her from inflicting the injuries and they had to call 911 for help.
Nowadays, Aesha Mohammadzai still prefers watching Bollywood films rather than American TV.
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban in October 2012, has signed a book deal worth about $3 million.
Malala Yousafzai, 15, who campaigns for girls’ education, says the memoir is her own story and that of millions of others denied the chance to go to school.
She was shot by a Taliban gunman in her home region of Swat.
Malala Yousafzai and her family now live in the British city of Birmingham where she has been receiving treatment.
The book, titled I am Malala, is scheduled for publication in the autumn.
Malala Yousafzai has signed a book deal worth about $3 million
“I hope the book will reach people around the world, so they realize how difficult it is for some children to get access to education,” she said.
“I want to tell my story, but it will also be the story of 61 million children who can’t get education.
“I want it to be part of the campaign to give every boy and girl the right to go to school. It is their basic right.”
Publishers Weidenfeld and Nicolson say that her memoir will tell what happened on the day she was shot “and the inspiring story of her determination not be intimidated by extremists”.
The book will also be about the schoolgirl’s family, who “gave her remarkable courage”.
Malala Yousafzai writes in the memoir that Tuesday 9 October 2012 was “not the best of days as it was the middle of school exams – though as a bookish girl I don’t mind them as much as my friends do”.
At the time of the attack she was “squashed between friends and teachers on the benches of the open-back truck used as a school bus”.
The gunman walked onto the vehicle and shot her in the face at point-blank range.
Since the shooting and her recovery after treatment in Pakistan and the UK, Malala Yousafzai has received numerous peace awards around the world.
Her father has been appointed a UN educational advisor, and 12 July has been designated by the UN as Malala Day.
The Malala Fund, set up on behalf of her and her family, is dedicated to the education and empowerment of girls in Pakistan and around the world.
Former Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf has decided to end his self-imposed exile in Dubai and defying death threats he heads back to Karachi.
Pervez Musharraf said the Taliban had tried and failed to kill him, adding that he was taking precautions because his safety could not always be guaranteed.
General Pervez Musharraf plans to lead his party in the May general election.
Meanwhile, 17 soldiers were killed by a suicide bomber in north-west Pakistan overnight.
They were attacked at a security checkpoint in the tribal region of North Waziristan, close to the Afghan border and a known stronghold of the Taliban and al-Qaeda-linked militants.
A recent Taliban video threatened Pervez Musharraf with snipers and suicide bombers.
Pervez Musharraf has left Dubai on a plane to Karachi, ending his self-imposed exile and defying death threats
The former president faces a string of charges including conspiracy to murder, but on Friday the Pakistani authorities granted him protective bail in several outstanding cases, freeing him from immediate arrest once he steps foot in Pakistan.
Pervez Musharraf tweeted a photo of himself aboard the plane, writing: “Settled in my seat on the plane to begin my journey home. Pakistan First!”
A group of about 200 supporters and journalists are travelling with the former military ruler – including party members from the UK, Canada, Switzerland and the US.
Before take-off chants of “Long live Pervez Musharraf” broke out on board.
Some of the general’s supporters wore white armbands saying they were ready to give their lives for him.
But aides confirmed a planned mass rally had been called off because authorities withdrew permission. Instead, they said, a rally would be held at the airport in Karachi upon arrival.
Pervez Musharraf has lived in London and Dubai since stepping down five years ago.
He has vowed to return several times in the past, but those previous attempts have been abandoned.
President Hamid Karzai has issued a stinging rebuke to the US and the Taliban, saying they are both guilty of sowing fears for post-2014 Afghanistan.
Hamid Karzai said Taliban suicide attacks on Saturday were aimed at intimidation that would prolong the presence of international troops in Afghanistan.
The troops are scheduled to end combat missions in 2014.
Hamid Karzai has cancelled a scheduled press conference with visiting US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel.
A senior Afghan presidential aide said this was because of tensions over civilian casualties, the handover of control of Bagram prison and the actions of US Special Forces in Wardak province.
US officials said it was because of security concerns and not the president’s recent comments.
In a nationally televised speech, President Hamid Karzai referred to two Taliban attacks on Saturday in Khost and Kabul that left 19 people dead.
He suggested both the US and Taliban were trying to convince Afghans the situation would worsen after 2014.
Hamid Karzai said: “Yesterday’s bombings in the name of the Taliban were aimed at serving the foreigners and supporting the presence of the foreigners in Afghanistan and keeping them in Afghanistan by intimidating us.”
President Hamid Karzai has issued a stinging rebuke to the US and the Taliban, saying they are both guilty of sowing fears for post-2014 Afghanistan
Responding to Hamid Karzai’s speech, US and NATO forces commander Gen. Joseph Dunford said: “We have fought too hard over the past 12 years, we have shed too much blood over the last 12 years, to ever think that violence or instability would be to our advantage.”
Relations between Hamid Karzai and the US are in bad shape, with the president angry that the US has not transferred Afghan prisoners held in US custody at Bagram prison.
The Afghan government also accused US-led forces and Afghans working with them of abusing and arresting university students, in violation of national sovereignty.
Hamid Karzai also said that: “Taliban leaders and representatives are talking with the US abroad every day.”
The president would rather the insurgents spoke to him, but they will not do so as they regard his government as illegitimate.
A statement from the US embassy in Kabul said Washington had “long supported an Afghan-led process for Afghans to talk to Afghans”.
But it pointed out that the Taliban had suspended talks with the US in March 2012 and it was “up to the Taliban to take the next steps”.
A Taliban spokesman denied the group was holding any dialogue with the US.
Hamid Karzai’s speech comes as Chuck Hagel makes his first visit to Afghanistan.
The two governments are still negotiating a deal on the long-term presence of US forces in Afghanistan.
Hamid Karzai said any force that remained “must respect the national sovereignty of our country and must respect all our customs”.
There are about 66,000 US military personal at present in the country. Early next year that figure will drop to 34,000. The number of international troops that will remain after 2014 is still to be determined.
Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot in the head by the Taliban last year, has spoken for the first time describing how a fund has been set up in her name to help all children get an education.
Malala Yousafzai, 15, was speaking in an interview recorded before surgery at a Birmingham hospital on Saturday.
She was shot on a school bus in October in Pakistan by the Taliban after campaigning for girls’ rights.
Surgeons at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital said Malala Yousafzai was recovering “very well” from the latest operation.
A bullet was removed from her head by surgeons in Pakistan, before she was flown to the UK for further treatment.
Malala Yousafzai was discharged as an inpatient from Queen Elizabeth Hospital in January and underwent a five-hour operation at the weekend to fit a titanium plate over her damaged skull.
She also had a cochlear implant fitted to deal with some deafness caused by her injuries.
Speaking in the video in English, Malala Yousafzai said she wanted to “serve the people”.
She said: “Today you can see that I’m alive. I can speak, I can see you, I can see everyone and today I can speak and I’m getting better day by day.
“It’s just because of the prayers of people, because all the people – men, women, children – all of them have prayed for me.
“Because of these prayers, God has given me this new life and this is a second life.
“I want to serve the people and I want every girl, every child, to be educated and for that reason we have organized the Malala Fund.”
She also made her comments in Urdu and Pashtu.
Malala Yousafzai described how a fund has been set up in her name to help all children get an education
The Taliban said it attacked the campaigner for girls’ education for “promoting secularism”.
The first grant from the Malala Fund will go to an organization in the teenager’s home region of the Swat Valley in Pakistan and it aims to encourage girls to go to school instead of going straight into work.
Those behind the project said it would help enroll selected girls into schools and give them the support to continue with their studies.
It is also expected to work with families to understand the importance of education for their daughters.
The Malala Fund has been set up by international organization Vital Voices, which says it helps give women a voice to promote prosperity and peace in their communities.
A message on the organization’s website said: “We established the Malala Fund on behalf of Malala and her family, working together with supporters of the cause, including the United Nations Foundation and Girl Up, and within a community of supportive organizations and individuals, to realize Malala’s vision of education for all girls.”
In a news conference on Monday, the Birmingham hospital’s medical director Dr. Dave Rosser said everything had gone “very well” in Saturday’s operation and said the teenager’s condition was continuing to improve.
He said: “She went back to the intensive care unit that evening, primarily as a precautionary measure rather than because of any major concerns and she’s now back on one of the wards in the hospital and doing very well.”
Consultant neurosurgeon Anwen White said she now did not expect Malala Yousafzai to have to undergo any further surgery.
Anwen White added that Malala Yousafzai remained “a very happy, very enthusiastic young woman”.
Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by Taliban gunmen last week, is being flown to the UK for medical treatment, the Pakistani army has said.
Malala Yousafzai has until now been at a military hospital in Rawalpindi, with doctors saying her progress over the next few days would be “critical”.
The girl wrote a diary about suffering under the Taliban and was accused by them of “promoting secularism”.
The UK said Malala Yousafzai’s transfer followed London’s offer to help her in any way.
Malala Yousafzai was taken to Islamabad and then left the country on board an air ambulance provided by the United Arab Emirates, accompanied by a full medical team.
The military said her doctors in Rawalpindi were “pleased with her present condition which has been described as optimal”.
“The panel of doctors recommended that Malala be shifted abroad to a UK centre which has the capability to provide integrated care to children who have sustained severe injury,” it said.
Malala Yousafzai is being flown to the UK for medical treatment
Malala Yousafzai is expected to need treatment to repair or replace damaged bones in her skull and to undergo neurological treatment.
The UK said it would not release information about where she was being taken to respect patient confidentiality, but said it had “capacity for Malala to be treated without affecting the normal operations of the hospital”.
The UK’s Foreign Secretary William Hague said the attack on Malala Yousafzai and her friends “shocked Pakistan and the world” and that her bravery was “an example to us all”.
“Malala will now receive specialist medical care in an NHS [National Health Service] hospital. Our thoughts remain with Malala and her family at this difficult time.”
“The public revulsion and condemnation of this cowardly attack shows that the people of Pakistan will not be beaten by terrorists. The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Pakistan in its fight against terrorism.”
Malala Yousafzai – who was a well-known campaigner for education for girls – was attacked last Tuesday as she was returning home from school in Mingora in north-western Swat.
Two armed men, on foot, stopped a van packed with about a dozen schoolgirls in a congested area of the town.
One of them got into the van and asked which of the girls was Malala Yousafzai before he fired three shots, hitting Malala in the head and injuring two others.
The Taliban has warned they will target Malala Yousafzai again.
Malala has been kept sedated and on a ventilator since she was taken to hospital, with tight security around her.
The ventilator was removed briefly over the weekend to see how she coped and presumably have determined she is well enough to travel.
Four people have been arrested in connection with the attack. They were among about 100 people rounded up this week, most of whom were later released on bail.
On Monday, former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is now the UN’s Special Envoy for Global Education, said he was launching a petition in Malala Yousafzai’s name “in support of what Malala fought for”.
“Today, sadly, 32 million girls are not going to school and it is time to fight harder for Malala’s dream to come true,” he said.
Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by Taliban gunmen, is being transferred to a new military hospital with better facilities, officials say.
Malala Yousafzai, in critical condition two days after being attacked in the north-western Swat Valley, left Peshawar by helicopter for Rawalpindi.
The Taliban, who accuse the young activist of “promoting secularism”, have said they will target her again.
There have been widespread protests in Pakistan against the shooting.
Malala Yousafzai was being treated in an intensive care unit in Peshawar before doctors decided to move her to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology critical care unit in Rawalpindi.
“Doctors have decided to shift Malala to the Combined Military Hospital [CMH] in Rawalpindi where medical facilities are better,” said Maj Ishtiaq Ahmad.
One of the medical team treating her said “neurologically she has significantly improved” but that the “coming days… are very critical”.
Another doctor, Mumtaz Khan, told AFP news agency that she had a 70% chance of survival.
“Her condition is not yet out of danger despite improvement,” Masood Kausar, the governor of the north-western Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, was also quoted as saying.
Pakistani officials have offered a 10 million rupee ($105,000) reward for information leading to the arrest of the attackers.
Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who visited Malala Yousafzai in hospital in Peshawar on Wednesday, said it was time to “stand up to fight the propagators of such barbaric mindset and their sympathizers”.
Malala Yousafzai wrote about suffering caused by Talibans who had taken control of the Swat Valley in 2007
Malala Yousafzai gained attention aged 11, when she started writing a diary for BBC Urdu about life under the Taliban.
Under the pen-name Gul Makai, she wrote about suffering caused by militants who had taken control of the Swat Valley in 2007 and ordered girls’ schools to close.
The Taliban were ousted from Swat in 2009, but her family said they had regularly received death threats.
They believed she would be safe among her own community, but on Tuesday, she was stopped as she returned home from school in Mingora, in north-western Swat, and shot in the head.
Two other girls were injured, one of whom remained in a critical condition on Wednesday.
Schools in the Swat Valley closed on Wednesday in protest at the attack, and schoolchildren in other parts of the country prayed for the girl’s recovery.
Protests were held in Peshawar, Multan and in Malala Yousafzai’s hometown of Mingora and in Lahore.
Those taking part praised the girl’s bravery, while many condemned the attack as un-Islamic.
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