Malala Yousufzai, the 14-year-old who stood up to Taliban thugs, is a rare beacon of hope in Pakistan

Rob Creely writes: Few in Pakistan dare to stand up to the home-grown thugs and gangsters of the Taliban. When they extended their reign of terror through the Swat Valley in 2007 and 2008 what did the government and military do? They signed a ceasefire allowing the extremist cleric Maulana Fazlullah a free hand to continue his campaign of beheadings and intimidation.

Malala Yousufzai was one of the few brave voices who spoke out. 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.

Now she lies in a hospital bed in a critical condition after being shot by the Pakistan Taliban. So serious are her injuries that a 737 remains on standby ready to fly her to Dubai once she is well enough to be moved.

Malala is not the first campaigner to be singled out for assassination by the Taliban thugs. Commanders of anti-Taliban militias, women’s rights campaigners, anyone who has suggested reform of the draconian blasphemy laws risks death. Pakistan is long hardened to vicious, senseless killings. Few raise more than a murmur, such is the wearying nature of Pakistan bloody list of the dead. (Unless America can be blamed, in which case there will be an orchestrated outcry.)

This time, though, even Pakistan is shocked.

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