Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan (C) with his guards (file photo)
Pakistan has offered a $1 million bounty for Ehsanullah Ehsan, the spokesman of the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which claimed responsibility for the assassination attempt that targeted 14-year-old activist Malala Yousafzai last week.
On October 9, Yousafzai was shot in the head and neck by TTP militants in the town of Mingora for speaking out against the extremists and promoting education for girls and women in the Swat Valley of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik made the announcement on Tuesday, saying, "I announce a bounty of rupees ten crore (approximately one million US dollars) on his (Ehsanullah Ehsan's) head.”
He added, “Whoever catches him will get rupees ten crore. And anybody who identifies him (gives information), he will be given the country's highest award. That is because we have to get rid of these terrorists."
Last week, the TTP spokesman said that the militants attacked Malala Yousafzai because she was anti-Taliban, adding that she would not be spared.
“She was young, but she was promoting Western culture in Pashtun areas,” Ehsan said, referring to the main ethnic group in northwest Pakistan and southern and eastern Afghanistan.
Most members of the Afghan Taliban and the TTP come from the Pashtun community. It is a society where there is great opposition to education for females and a very low level of literacy.
In 2008 and 2009, the TTP banned female education in the Swat Valley, depriving more than 40,000 girls of education. TTP militants destroyed hundreds of schools in the valley during a campaign of violence over the course of the two years, which led to a dramatic decline in the number of girls enrolled in schools in the region.
In 2009, Malala Yousafzai rose to fame for writing about life in the Swat Valley under the TTP. She later received Pakistan’s National Peace Award for bravery and was also nominated for an international children's peace award.
On Monday, she was flown into Britain for specialist care at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham after Pakistani doctors said she needed treatment for a damaged skull and "intensive neuro-rehabilitation."
On Monday, Dr. Dave Rosser, the medical director of Queen Elizabeth Hospital, said, “Doctors believe she has a chance of making a good recovery on every level,” but added that her treatment and rehabilitation could take months
On Tuesday, Rosser told reporters at the hospital, "We are very pleased with the progress she's made so far."
"She is showing every sign of being every bit as strong as we've been led to believe,” he added.
"Malala will need reconstructive surgery and we have international experts in that field," Rosser stated.