The Pakistan army has claimed to have apprehended 10 Taliban militants suspected to have been behind the attack on teen education activist Malala Yousafzai that caught international attention; but a former spokesperson for the terrorist group has rubbished the claims.
The Pakistani Taliban wing, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan had attempted to kill Yousafzai in a brutal attack on 9 October 2012, shooting her in the head as she was returning home from school in a van. The then 15-year-old activist survived the attack and went on to become a globally known crusader for the rights of girls' education.
According to the Pakistan army spokesperson General Asim Saleem Bajwa, 10 TTP militants led by a local furniture-shop-owner Zafar Iqbal, had instructed to kill Malala and 22 others. They had earlier arrested one member Israr ur Rehman who reportedly led the military to capture the others. All 10 members of the group are reportedly residents of the Malakand area of the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, an area largely under Taliban control.
However, even though the military has claimed to have arrested the "entire gang involved in the murder attempt" doubts still remain if the real culprits are still at large, as former TTP member Ehsan Ehsanullah, who was in fact the spokesman for the outfit in 2012 when the attack took place, has rubbished the army's claims as "thoughts" and "fantasies".
According to Ehsanullah, "three people were involved in that attack, of which one is martyred and two are alive," The Wall Street Journal reported.
The news of the arrest of the alleged attackers of Yousafzai also did not go down with several locals, who are reading it with a degree of suspicion.
"I do not trust the army claims of the arrest of those who attacked Malala. The army always used to claim that they were just about to arrest Fazlullah, but now he is living safely in Afghanistan," an academic in Swat told The Guardian.
Ehsanullah also refuted the military's claims that the top commander of the Pakistan Taliban had ordered the men to kill Yousafzai, stating that the initiative was first taken by 'junior fighters' who then informed the leadership, The Guardian reported.
The Pakistan Taliban group, now headed by Mullah Fazlullah, who took over the leadership after former chief Hakimullah Mehsud was killed by a US drone, had taken credit for the attack, and last year, a senior Taliban commander had also written a letter to Yousafzai clarifying that they attacked her for running a 'smear campaign'.
The Taliban has in fact vowed to attack her again.
Yousafzai, now 17, lives with her family in Birmingham in the United Kingdom, where she was operated after surviving the near-fatal attack.
She even published a book on her life in Pakistan and under the Taliban and has also been awarded the European Parliament's Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, and Amnesty International's Ambassador of Conscience Award.
She was also nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize last year.