Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl who became an international hero after being shot in the head by the Taliban, finally reunited with her family in Britain yesterday evening, receiving a visit in her UK hospital from her parents and two brothers.
It was the first time she has seen them since she was transported out of Pakistan to a hospital in Birmingham after the Taliban opened fire on her school bus two weeks ago. Yousafzai was targeted by the Taliban because she wrote a column for the BBC championing the cause of children’s rights and girls’ education.
Before he left Islamabad, her father, Ziauddin Yousufzai, told Pakistan’s PTV, “the whole country knows that it is essential that I be with my daughter during her recovery. With the nation’s prayers she survived the attack and she will surely recover and her health will progress. And, God willing, as soon as she is recovered, I will be back in Pakistan.”
Last week, Malala stood up for the first time, a week after after being shot in the head.
Though she can’t talk because she has a tracheotomy tube in her throat, Yousafzai is writing coherent sentences and “communicating freely,” director of University Hospitals Birmingham, Dave Rosser, told reporters last week.
“We have no reason to believe she won’t be able to talk when the tube is out, which may be in the next few days,” Rosser said, adding that she “is not out of the woods yet” but is doing very well.
There “is certainly physical damage to the brain” from the bullet that entered Malala’s head, Rosser said, but she appears to be functioning well intellectually and has the motor control to stand, with help from nurses.
“Whether there’s any subtle intellectual or memory deficits down the line, it’s too early to say,” he said.
Meanwhile in Pakistan, the Taliban is so upset that they have been negatively portrayed in the press after they shot Malala in the head that they allegedly have targeted the responsible Pakistani news outlets and journalists for terror strikes.
On the day of the attack, Ihsanullah Ihsan, chief spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, said in calls to the media that Yousafzai was targeted because she generated “negative propaganda” about Muslims.
“She considers President Obama as her ideal. Malala is the symbol of the infidels and obscenity,” Ihsan said.
The Taliban is mad because people are saying bad things about them for trying to assassinate a 14-year-old girl who simply wanted an education. And they want their reasoning for the attack to get higher placement in the stories. We are not making this up.
Even in her fragile state, Malala is still thinking about her education. She asked her father to bring her school books.
“The mission she has taken forward and the education awareness that has spread across Pakistan is all Malala’s doing,” Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik said, according to PTV. “So I think that our entire nation should be proud of her love for the soil of her country.”
After Malala recovers and returns to Pakistan, he said, “we will provide her with complete security, despite anyone’s refusal, to ensure that something like this never happens again. The attack on Malala was a mindset of people who don’t want to see this country progress.”