A senior Pakistan Taliban leader has written to Malala Yousafzai explaining why she was shot and expressing regret that the attempted assassination ever took place.
Adnan Rasheed wrote to the schoolgirl expressing regrets that he didn't warn her she was being targeted before the assassination attempt that propelled her to worldwide recognition. He claimed he had “brotherly” feelings towards someone from his own Yousafzai tribe.
He stopped short at apologising for the attack last October but admitted he found the shooting "shocking" and wished it hadn't happened.
Malala was 15 years old when she and two of her friends were attacked on their way home from school in Pakistan's northwest Swat Valley.
She celebrated her 16th birthday last week by giving a speech at the United Nations in New York where she used the opportunity to call on world leaders to provide free education to all children.
Rasheed referred to her speech in his letter and told Malala that it would be for God to decide whether she should have been targeted.
"You have said in your speech yesterday that pen is mightier than sword," Rasheed wrote, "so they attacked you for your sword not for your books or school."
He added that the letter was his own opinion and not that of the militant group. Associated Press reported that it spoke to another Taliban commander on Wednesday who confirmed the letter was authentic.
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Rasheed was in the Pakistan Air Force before being jailed following a plot to kill president Pervez Musharraf but escaped in a mass jail break organised by the Taliban last year.
Gordon Brown, who is now a UN special envoy on global education, rejected Rasheed's letter while the Taliban continues to target schools.
"Nobody will believe a word the Taliban say about the right of girls like Malala to go to school until they stop burning down schools and stop massacring pupils," the former prime minister said in a statement.
"In the last few weeks alone in separate terrorist attacks, 14 female students were massacred in Quetta, a girls' school prize-giving ceremony was bombed, killing a school principal and maiming pupils in Karachi, and a female teacher was gunned down in front of her son on her way to the all-girls school where she taught.
"The Taliban are on the defensive because four million people, two million of them in Pakistan, have now signed petitions calling for every girl to have their education in safety.
"I will visit Pakistan in the next few weeks as we build on Malala Day.
"During my visit I will step up the pressure for action to ensure that the three to four million Pakistani girls now denied education have a chance to go to school by the end of 2015."Suggest a correction