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When the Taliban attempted to assassinate 15-year-old Malala Yousufzai in Pakistan on October 9, the world responded with outrage. Starting at age 11, she began to blog anonymously on the BBC website, advocating for education and rights for Pakistanis, especially school for young girls. Even before the shooting, Yousufzai was a hero among Pakistanis and people globally.
As Yousufzai recovers at a British hospital, the Taliban has issued fresh death threats. They say she is speaking against Islam and promoting Western ideals. But the people of Pakistan, united in anger and grief, have pushed the government to prevent such terrorist attacks and to educate more women and girls.
In addition to Taliban assassination attempts, other problems exacerbate the situation in Pakistan. Discriminatory law and lack of law enforcement are two problems. Official inaction during the Mardan church burning, false accusations of blasphemy against Rimsha Masih, and the 2011 assassination of Christian leader Shahbaz Bhatti are unforgettable recent examples. Pakistan's laws, amended by Islamic fundamentalists starting in 1978, make all religious minorities (Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, Baha'i, and Ahmadi Muslims) second-class citizens in the courts and during elections.
Despite the challenges, North American Christians are having positive influence. Several sources who spoke to CT said that Christians (Pakistanis and Westerners) are building durable new relationships and trust through a quieter approach with both Pakistanis and their leaders. Christians are also working at the grassroots, especially in their efforts to promote literacy.
The need for effective school-based literacy and education programs is huge. The Taliban has destroyed hundreds of school buildings, which Pakistan cannot afford to rebuild. A 2012 fact sheet says 49.5 million of Pakistan's adults are illiterate, the third highest percentage in the world. In Pakistan, 69 percent of women do not work, but ...