PESHAWAR: Following the deadly attack on activist Malala Yousafzai a few weeks ago, another schoolgirl from Swat, Hina Khan who was a pioneer in raising her voice publicly against Taliban atrocities in the Malakand Valley, is now also claiming to be on the Taliban’s hit list. What has been further worrisome for her family is that despite repeated requests for security, they claim no steps have been taken to provide protection to them after they fled from Swat and moved to Islamabad.
The teenaged Hina Khan, a student of Class 11, had publicly denounced militants’ atrocities in 2009.
“I had left Swat with my family because the militants had threatened girls’ education there but now I feel I would not be able to go to school in Islamabad as well after these renewed threats,” Khan told Dawn.com.
Hina held a press conference at the National Press Club in 2008 after her friends in Swat told her that the militants were becoming further intolerant towards girls seeking education and had started bombing schools as well.
“I raised my voice publicly to save their future,” she stated.
Khan, along with some other students had also taken out a peace rally at the Jinnah Supper Market in Islamabad to draw attention towards the Swati womens’ problems.
“I am more worried now because after the attack on Malala, this red cross appearing on our door and subsequent threats to my family has made us more insecure,” Khan said.
Khan claims that she fears not being able to attend school even in Islamabad, since she was receiving threats warning her that she would be targeted or kidnapped.
Khan’s father Raitullah Khan told Dawn.com that he was very worried about his family after his wife Farhat, a social worker, also started receiving threatening calls since August this year. He claimed that she had previously also received threats.
About the renewed threats and the family worries, Raituallah said, “A few days ago when I came out of my house I saw a red cross on my gate but I removed it assuming it might have been drawn by some kids, but the very next day it appeared again which really terrified me.”
The next day, he claimed, “we received a call that Hina will be next after Malala. We have already been fighting death since many years when my wife started speaking for women rights and girls’ education.”
Khan’s mother, Farhat, who used to be a human rights and social activist, had worked for the women empowerment in Swat for more than a decade.
“I received a call from a land line PTCL number with Peshawar’s area code and the callers threatened to target Hina and my family and said that we would not spared,” claimed Farhat.
“Mullah Fazlullah led militants had even sent us death threats on their FM Radio after a huge handicraft exhibition of Swat women was arranged in 2006 to promote their work but now these threats are coming with more force after Malala’s incident.”
Farhat said that her children remain at home now as she has not been letting them out of the house to attend school.
“I had personally tried to contact and speak to the Interior Minister Rehman Malik and had also forwarded an application to the Interior Ministry personally, as well as through minority Senator Amar Jeet Singh but nothing concrete happened.”
Farhat said that they moved to Islamabad in 2006 after receiving the threats but were now being haunted by renewed ones.
Farhat, who was then running a non-governmental organisation had arranged a handicraft expo in 2006 for the Swati women which was inaugurated by the than federal minister Sumera Malik. The family had been on the hit list ever since, she claimed.
Raitullah said that the interior minister had just forwarded their application to a senior police officer, seeking a report on the incident on October 10 but nothing practical had come about. The police said that they needed clear cut orders for deployment and could not act much on reports.
Raitullah argued that it was strange that when someone being threatened is requesting security, the authorities don’t bother to do anything but as soon as something big happens they start rushing.
“We are almost being held as hostages inside our house. I want security for my three daughters, two sons and my wife so they can live freely,” he added.
Raitullah said they had been changing residences in Islamabad frequently.
“My family and kids need security, we need nothing else.”