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Minister tried to ‘block’ Malala family from leaving Pakistan

LONDON: As Malala Yousafzai continues to make dramatic recovery in Queen Elizabeth Hospital, some po

October 26, 2012
LONDON: As Malala Yousafzai continues to make dramatic recovery in Queen Elizabeth Hospital, some political players in Pakistan have been desperately trying to draw mileage out of this national tragedy to advance their own publicity.
The News has learnt from highly credible sources that attempts were made by a powerful cabinet minister to prevent her father Ziauddin Yousafzai and other family members from coming to the UK. It was said widely by the minister in high profile meetings, according to a senior Foreign Office official who spoke to The News on condition of anonymity, that Malala’s family will seek asylum in Britain if allowed to leave Pakistan.
These meetings, spread over several days, were attended by senior military officers, interior and exterior ministry officials and diplomats from the foreign office.
The minister told the officials that Malala’s father should be kept in Pakistan “until Malala gets better and then she will be shifted to another country where her family will not be able to claim asylum”. The minister was of the opinion that Pakistan’s enemies might use the family to malign the country.
The minister proposed that he should take the lead in this matter and volunteered himself visit the hospital on behalf of the family. He told the officials that he will take Foreign Secretary William Hague with him to the hospital to visit her and interact with the media.
The minister told the meeting, quoting his own trusted sources, that Britain was willing to give Malala family asylum and it must be ensured that nothing of this nature happens. “I know for a fact that UK is ready to offer Malala and her family asylum and we must not let it happen,” the minister told the meeting.
A senior participant of the meeting stated that if Britain is ready to offer Malala family asylum then they should be allowed as in Britain “she will be seen as a brave ambassador of Pakistan who defied Taliban” but the powerful minister disagreed. The minister insisted in the meeting that he will provide “fool proof security” to the Malala family but everyone laughed at this suggestion and one of the participants even said sarcastically “the same promise was made to Benazir Bhutto!”.
The minister was castigated by the participants that he should not have made the family’s departure from Pakistan an issue. He was told that both Pakistan army and Britain were acting in good faith and “there was no question about anyone’s commitment towards the welfare of the young girl”.
The insider said the minister only backed down when he was told that a report will be presented before the President of Pakistan that Malala’s family were being prevented from leaving Pakistan and that it will not be too late when the media gets the whiff of the cynical plot. It is in this background that Malala’s father has stressed the 15-year-old activist girl will return home after treatment.
Initially, there was confusion as who was going to be responsible for Malala’s treatment, the expenditures and every aspect of her presence in the UK. Many ministries and ministers showed keen interest but the presidency authorised that Pakistan’s HC to the UK Wajid Shamsul Hasan will be Malala’s legal guardian and he will be responsible for bearing all expenses for her treatment and sustenance of the family while in the UK.
Malala’s parents and brothers were received at Birmingham airport on Thursday evening by Wajid Shamsul Hasan and Minister for Overseas Pakistanis, Dr Farooq Sattar.
A Home Office spokesperson said that Malala’s father has been clear publicly that the family intends to continue to live in Pakistan. The spokesman added: All asylum cases are treated on their individual merits on a case by case basis and we do not routinely comment on individual immigration cases.”