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As US eyes retreat in Afghanistan, it must listen to Malala

The young Pakistani girl is a model for the global struggle against the anti-women Taliban. With Obama weighing troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, Malala's speech to the UN today gives reasons to finish the job.

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Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot by the Taliban for promoting education for girls, is applauded by United Nations officials July 12 in honor of what the UN declared as "Malala Day."

AP Photo

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As President Obama eyes the option to bring back all American soldiers from Afghanistan next year – the so-called zero option – he might want to take a lesson from Malala Yousafzai.

She is the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head last year by the Taliban for advocating education for every Muslim girl. On Friday, she spoke at the United Nations headquarters in New York and announced that the Taliban had “failed.”

“They shot my friends, too. They thought the bullet would silence us, but they failed. Out of the silence came thousands of voices,” she said.

And that’s from a girl who just turned 16.

Mr. Obama has yet to say plainly whether he will allow the Taliban to succeed in Afghanistan or whether US troops will remain until the country has a stable, democratic government that can ensure women’s rights. His current frustration in forging agreements with President Hamid Karzai has led the White House to weigh a total troop withdrawal earlier than planned.

If that happens, Afghan women might be left with a slow reversal of women’s rights gained since the 2001 US invasion or a Taliban takeover. In neighboring Pakistan, an improved democracy has been able to better confront the Taliban since 2009, especially because of high-profile advocates such as Malala.

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