The sister of a man suspected in the shooting of Pakistani teenager Malala Yousufzai has apologised to the victim. “Please convey a message to Malala, that I apologise for what my brother did to her,” Rehana Haleem told CNN in an exclusive interview here about her brother, Attah Ullah Khan. He has brought shame on our family. We have lost everything after what he did.”
Police have said they were searching for 23-year-old Khan and two boys, whom authorities have not identified. Since age 11, Malala had been encouraging her fellow Pakistanis to stand up to the Taliban, who were trying to push girls from classrooms.
On October 9, Malala — who is now 15 — was on her school van in the Taliban-held Swat Valley when thugs stopped the vehicle and jumped on board. They demanded that other girls riding identify Malala. They shot two girls, who suffered non-life-threatening injuries, and fired at Malala, striking her in the head and neck, according to officials.
“What he did was intolerable,” Haleem said. “Malala is just like my sister. I’d like to express my concern for Malala on behalf of my whole family; I hope she recovers soon and returns to a happy and normal life as soon as possible. I hope Malala doesn’t consider me or my family as enemies. I don’t consider Atta Ullah my brother anymore.”
A day after the attack, security forces searched the family’s house, seizing documents and pictures, and taking Haleem and her family to a nearby house equipped with bars on the doors and windows, she said.
The officers asked where Atta Ullah was and whether his sister knew how to reach him by cell phone, but she said she told them she did not.
“I was pregnant and sick,” she said. “Then, finally, after a day or two, they released me and my husband and told me they were letting me go only because I was sick.” Haleem said she had little doubt that her brother was involved in the shooting.
“If he was innocent, he would have come back and claimed he was innocent and come to the aid of his mother and our family,” she said. “His behaviour is that of a guilty man. How could he abandon us?”
Her culture considers raising a hand against a woman to be dishonorable, she said, adding, “Let alone a man who tries to kill a woman.” Police said last month that they had arrested six men in connection with the shooting but were still searching for Khan.
Malala who is currently in Birmingham Hospital will soon undergo reconstructive surgery in the UK. She is said to be making good progress but is waiting for an infection to die out before surgery.