THE 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head after being accused by Taliban extremists of ”promoting secularism” is now in the UK for medical treatment. Islamic extremists in Pakistan, meanwhile, have issued threats against local and Western media for their coverage of the shooting.
According to the New York Times, Malala Yousafzai left an air base in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, where she was being treated for head wounds in a military hospital, on an air ambulance sent from the United Arab Emirates.
In a statement, the military said she would receive immediate treatment for her head injuries. . Her skull was fractured after a bullet passed through her head, and she is to undergo long-term rehabilitation including intensive neuro rehabilitation in England.
Malala is being treated at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham in central England, a centre which has specialised in the treatment of troops wounded in Afghanistan, Prime Minister David Cameron’s office said in a statement quoted by The Associated Press.
Pakistan said it would pay for her treatment.
The BBC reported today that UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said the attack on Malala and her friends “shocked Pakistan and the world” and that her bravery was “an example to us all”.
Malala will now receive specialist medical care in an NHS hospital. Our thoughts remain with Malala and her family at this difficult time.
The public revulsion and condemnation of this cowardly attack shows that the people of Pakistan will not be beaten by terrorists. The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Pakistan in its fight against terrorism.
The mercy flight produced a sigh of relief of sorts among Pakistanis who have kept an anxious national vigil for Malala since she was shot by a militant Islamic gunman last Tuesday as she returned from school in Mingora, the main town in the Swat Valley, in northwestern Pakistan.
The daughter of a schoolmaster, Malala had become known for her eloquent and impassioned advocacy of education and children’s rights in the face of Taliban threats, which made her a potent symbol of resistance to the militants’ extremist ideology.
Worries over her fate have dominated Pakistan in the past week. Front-page headlines have carried updates of her medical treatment, schoolchildren held prayer services and candlelight vigils, and the political system has united to condemn the Taliban with an unusual vehemence and unity.
Tens of thousands of people took to the streets of the port of Karachi on Sunday for a solidarity march organized by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement, the city’s dominant political party.
Malala’s fate has also excited much international concern. President Obama, the Nobel Peace laureate Desmond Tutu and the pop singer Madonna were among the public figures to take up her cause.
A wave of public criticism over the shooting has stung the Pakistan Taliban, which over the weekend issued threats against the local and Western news media. Some Western media organisations based in Islamabad have temporarily closed their offices as a precautionary measure.
The Pakistani government has publicly named the militant believed to have carried out the shooting as Ataullah, and has offered over $100,000 for his capture. The police in Swat rounded up more than 100 people after the shooting, but formally arrested just four. The assassin remains at large.