Malala Yousafzai, born in 1997, is a Pakistani activist known for fighting for education rights for girls under the Taliban regime. She was awarded Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize for her cause of education. On October 9, 2012, a Taliban gunman shot Malala in her head and neck in an assassination attempt. Pakistan authorities subsequently offered an US$100,000 bounty on capture of the attacker. She remains in critical condition.
Wounded Malala making progress in British hospital
A 14-year-old Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban is making progress in a British hospital, doctors said on Tuesday, as police turned away visitors claiming to be relatives.
Malala Yousafzai was in a stable condition on her first full day in Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham after being flown to the city in central England in an air ambulance.
The hospital’s medical director David Rosser said she had had a “comfortable night”.
“We are very pleased with the progress she’s made so far,” he told reporters.
“She is showing every sign of being every bit as strong as we’ve been led to believe.
“Malala will need reconstructive surgery and we have international experts in that field.”
He said doctors at the highly specialised hospital - where British service personnel wounded in Afghanistan are treated - were beginning to plan for the complex procedures but they would not be carried out in the coming days.
Malala has been assessed by clinicians from the neurosurgery, imaging, trauma and therapy departments, though “very specialist teams” who may become involved further down the line are yet to perform detailed assessments on her injuries, Rosser added.
Malala was shot on a school bus in the former Taliban stronghold of the Swat valley last Tuesday as a punishment for campaigning for the right to an education, in an attack which outraged the world.
The teenager had a bullet removed from her skull last week.
Given that she was targeted for assassination by a Taliban gunman, security measures are in place at the hospital.
Rosser said there had been some “irritating incidents” overnight in which people “claiming to be members of Malala’s family - which we don’t believe to be true” had turned up.
A West Midlands Police spokesman said two “well-wishers” were questioned by officers who took their details and turned them away.
“No arrests were made and at no point was there any threat to Malala,” he said.
Rosser added: “We think it’s probably people being over-curious. They didn’t get very far.”
Birmingham has a 100,000-strong ethnic Pakistani community - a tenth of the city’s population.
Malala came to prominence with a blog for the BBC highlighting atrocities under the Taliban, the hardline Islamists who terrorised the Swat valley from 2007 until an army offensive in 2009.
The attack has been denounced worldwide, including in Pakistan, which is meeting the costs of her treatment.
Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari said on Tuesday that the shooting was an attack on all girls in the country - and on civilisation itself.
“The Taliban attack on the 14-year-old girl, who from the age of 11 was involved in the struggle for education for girls, is an attack on all girls in Pakistan, an attack on education, and on all civilised people,” Zardari said at an economic summit in the Azerbaijani capital Baku.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the attack was designed to frighten and intimidate any young woman brave enough to follow her example, and to warn parents to keep their daughters out of school.
“But their cowardly act has achieved the opposite effect. There has been a wave of public revulsion in Pakistan and around the world,” he wrote in the London Evening Standard newspaper.
“For the attack on Malala has been an attack on Pakistan itself. Her plight symbolises the struggle for the future of Pakistan: between the forces of democracy and those of violent extremism.
“She spoke for girls and women everywhere when she spoke against oppression and against the medieval practices of the Pakistani Taliban.”
Pakistan has offered more than US$100,000 for the capture of her attackers. Nearly 200 people have been detained as part of the investigation but most have been released.