Islamabad - Despite the horrific attack on Pakistani education activist Malala Yousufzai by the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), classmates of the 14-year-old who was shot for advocating female right to education, try to put on a brave face, albeit in a rather unconvincing manner.
"In our hearts is the thirst for education. We want to show the world that we are not worried," The Washington Post quoted a 14-year-old girl, as saying.
It was a brave but ultimately false front. The same girl later confided to the reporter that they all are worried for their lives, and pleaded that her name and photograph not be used because she feared retribution by the Taliban.
Malala, who earned international fame for raising voice against Taliban oppression in Swat, was shot in the neck and head and two other girls sustained injuries when the TTP opened fire on their school van in Swat valley last Tuesday.
Even so, parents refuse to bow to terror: While 14 girls out of 31 in Malala's class did not attend school the day after the assassination attempt, this Monday only six were absent, the paper said.
The paper quoted Riaz Ahmed, father of Kainat, 16, who was one of the two others wounded in the attack, as saying that he is determined to send her back to school.
Kainat said she was scared at first, but not anymore. However, moments later she admitted that she couldn't sleep out of fear.
Malala's school Principal Mariam Khalique, 28, said Malala just wanted to study, and she wanted other girls to study as well. She added that the school refused to close despite repeated demands by the Taliban. It finally ended classes the day before the army launched its Swat offensive.
Malala's shooting proves that the threat of Taliban attacks pervades the entire nation, especially the northwestern frontier and the tribal belt bordering Afghanistan. The instability persists despite massive military operations three years ago to quash the extremist group and the continued presence of troops in all seven Federally Administered Tribal Areas, the paper said.