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Pakistani Taliban leader Adnan Rasheed has sent a letter to schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, expressing shock that she was shot by Taliban gunmen last year.

The Taliban was universally condemned after gunmen shot Malala Yousafzai in the head.

In his letter to Malala, Adnan Rasheed stops short of apologising but says he wished the attack “had never happened”.

He also claims the shooting was not in response to Malala Yousafzai’s campaign for girls’ education, but because she ran an anti-Taliban “smear campaign”.

Malala Yousafzai – who is considered a contender for the Nobel Peace Prize – is credited with bringing the education issue to global attention.

Speaking at UN headquarters in New York last Friday, she said that books and pens scared extremists. She also urged education for all, including “for the sons and daughters of the Taliban and all the terrorists”.

Correspondents say Adnan Rasheed’s letter was an apparent attempt to attract media attention with a view to counter the impact of Malala Yousafzai’s speech at the UN.

A copy of the letter was obtained by Channel 4 News and other news organizations.

Pakistani Taliban leader Adnan Rasheed has sent a letter to schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, expressing shock that she was shot by Taliban gunmen last year

Pakistani Taliban leader Adnan Rasheed has sent a letter to schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, expressing shock that she was shot by Taliban gunmen last year

Writing in his “personal capacity”, Adnan Rasheed said he felt “brotherly” emotions towards Malala because they belong to the “same Yousufzai tribe”.

However, he refuses to condemn the attack, saying the judgement on whether it was correct or not should be left to God.

Adnan Rasheed says he first heard of Malala Yousafzai’s work when he was in prison, when the BBC Urdu service broadcast a diary that she wrote.

He says he wished he had been able to “advise” her before the attack, which he describes as an “accident”.

The Taliban leader also says that his group is not “against education of any men or women or girls”. Instead he claims Malala Yousafzai was targeted because she campaigned to “malign [the Taliban’s] efforts to establish the Islamic system”.

“You have said in your speech that the pen is mightier than the sword, so they attacked you for your sword, not for your books or school,” he writes.

Adnan Rasheed finishes by telling Malala Yousafzai to “come back home, adopt the Islamic and Pashtun culture and join any female Islamic madrassa [school], use your pen… and reveal the conspiracy of the tiny elite who want to enslave the whole of humanity”.

Malala Yousafzai’s family said in a statement that they were aware of the letter but had not received it directly and had no wish to comment on it.

After the shooting, Malala Yousafzai was flown from Pakistan to the UK for treatment, and now lives in Birmingham, England.

Her speech on her 16th birthday at UN headquarters in New York was her first public address since last October’s attack.

Malala Yousafzai said she was fighting for the rights of women because “they are the ones who suffer the most”.

A quarter of young women around the world have not completed primary school.

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Angelina Jolie has honored Pakistani schoolgirl activist Malala Yousafzai, who has launched Malala Fund, a charity to fund girls’ education.

In New York, Angelina Jolie said Malala Yousafzai would be “in charge” of the Malala Fund.

Malala Yousafzai, 15, said in a video the launch was “the happiest moment of my life”.

The charity’s first grant will fund the education of 40 girls in Pakistan.

Angelina Jolie has honored Malala Yousafzai, who has launched Malala Fund, a charity to fund girls' education

Angelina Jolie has honored Malala Yousafzai, who has launched Malala Fund, a charity to fund girls’ education

Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban in October in retribution for her advocacy for girls’ education.

The teenager now attends school in Birmingham, UK, following her recovery from the shooting and has signed a book deal worth about $3 million for her memoir.

The book, titled I am Malala, is scheduled for publication in the autumn.

“Announcing the first grant of the Malala Fund is the happiest moment in my life,” Malala Yousafzai said in a video message at the Women in the World conference in New York.

“I invite all of you to support the Malala Fund and let us turn the education of 40 girls into 40 million girls.”

Malala Yousafzai started school again in mid-March following surgery to fit a titanium plate and cochlear implant into her skull.

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Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl who survived being shot in the head by the Taliban in October 2012, has signed a book deal worth about $3 million.

Malala Yousafzai, 15, who campaigns for girls’ education, says the memoir is her own story and that of millions of others denied the chance to go to school.

She was shot by a Taliban gunman in her home region of Swat.

Malala Yousafzai and her family now live in the British city of Birmingham where she has been receiving treatment.

The book, titled I am Malala, is scheduled for publication in the autumn.

Malala Yousafzai has signed a book deal worth about $3 million

Malala Yousafzai has signed a book deal worth about $3 million

“I hope the book will reach people around the world, so they realize how difficult it is for some children to get access to education,” she said.

“I want to tell my story, but it will also be the story of 61 million children who can’t get education.

“I want it to be part of the campaign to give every boy and girl the right to go to school. It is their basic right.”

Publishers Weidenfeld and Nicolson say that her memoir will tell what happened on the day she was shot “and the inspiring story of her determination not be intimidated by extremists”.

The book will also be about the schoolgirl’s family, who “gave her remarkable courage”.

Malala Yousafzai writes in the memoir that Tuesday 9 October 2012 was “not the best of days as it was the middle of school exams – though as a bookish girl I don’t mind them as much as my friends do”.

At the time of the attack she was “squashed between friends and teachers on the benches of the open-back truck used as a school bus”.

The gunman walked onto the vehicle and shot her in the face at point-blank range.

Since the shooting and her recovery after treatment in Pakistan and the UK, Malala Yousafzai has received numerous peace awards around the world.

Her father has been appointed a UN educational advisor, and 12 July has been designated by the UN as Malala Day.

The Malala Fund, set up on behalf of her and her family, is dedicated to the education and empowerment of girls in Pakistan and around the world.

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