Schoolgirl shot by Taliban arrives in UK for treatment
A PAKISTANI schoolgirl shot by the Taliban because she campaigned for the right of young women to an education has arrived in the UK for specialist treatment.
Malala Yousafzai (14) was shot in the head last Tuesday in an attack that prompted widespread revulsion in Pakistan and abroad. It also raised fresh questions about the state’s ability to tackle militancy. Malala’s life was saved by neurosurgeons in a Pakistani military hospital and she has since been in intensive care.
Doctors recommended she be transferred to a UK centre “which has the capability to provide integrated care to children who have sustained severe injury”, a Pakistani military spokesman said.
She travelled with an army intensive-care assistant on a specially equipped air ambulance leased from the United Arab Emirates and is being treated in Birmingham at the NHS’s Queen Elizabeth hospital, which has a specialist major trauma centre.
The Pakistani government is bearing the costs of transportation and treatment. The foreign office said the move followed an offer by the UK government to assist Malala in any way that it could.
Malala was shot in the head and neck while she sat with classmates on a school bus as it prepared to drive students home after morning classes in Mingora, a city in the Swat valley, where the army mounted major operations in 2009 to crush a Taliban insurgency.
Two other girls were also shot in the incident, one not seriously. The other girl remains in a critical condition.
Malala had become famous after writing a blog in 2009 for the BBC Urdu service about life under the Taliban insurgency.
The Taliban issued a statement claiming it was obligatory to kill anyone “leading a campaign” against Islamic law, and warned it would again attempt to kill Malala if she recovered from her injuries.
Police have arrested at least three suspects in connection with the attack but the two gunmen who carried out the shooting remain at large.
Meanwhile, several Pakistani and international news organisations have been forced in recent days to take extra security precautions after receiving threats from militants that one news executive described as “specific” and directed against named individuals.
A journalist in Swat, the region where the attack on Malala Yousafzai took place, has even been given police guards after receiving a written warning saying police had “credible information that you are on the hit list of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Swat”.