Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai first came to public attention in 2009 when she wrote a BBC diary about life under the Taliban. Now recovering from surgery after being shot by the militants, the campaigner for girls’ rights is in the spotlight again.

“I had a terrible dream yesterday with military helicopters and the Taliban. I have had such dreams since the launch of the military operation in Swat. I was afraid going to school because the Taliban had issued an edict banning all girls from attending schools. Only 11 students attended the class out of 27. The number decreased because of Taliban’s edict.

On my way from school to home I heard a man saying ‘I will kill you’. I hastened my pace… to my utter relief he was talking on his mobile and must have been threatening someone else over the phone.”

By 2009, the Taliban controlled much of the Swat Valley and applied their austere interpretation of sharia law.

“When the Taliban came to Swat they banned women from going to the market and they banned shopping,” Malala told the BBC last year.

But Malala’s primary objection was to the Taliban’s prohibition of female education. Militants had destroyed over 150 schools in 2008 alone.

“Malala Yousufzai was one of the few brave voices who spoke out”, writes The Daily Telegraph’s Pakistan correspondent Rob Crilly.

“She did it anonymously – to do otherwise would have brought immediate death. But her blog for the BBC Urdu Service detailing the abuses meant no one could pretend an accommodation with the terrorists was anything other than a deal with the devil.”

Halima Mansour in the Guardian heralds Malala as a young “Pakistani heroine” for her bravery and independence.

“Malala doesn’t want to play to some western-backed or Taliban-loved stereotype. She shows us that there are voices out there, in Pakistan, that need to be heard, if only to help the country find democracy that is for and from the people, all the people.”

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