A British medical team has flown to Pakistan to help doctors looking after 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai and will now transfer her to the UK for ‘prolonged treatment’.
Malala – an outspoken advocate for girls’ education and critic of the Taliban – was shot as she waited for a school bus last Tuesday in the northwestern district of Swat.
Two classmates who were with her were also injured in the gunfire.
The teenager’s life was saved by neurosurgeons in a Pakistani military hospital and she has since been in intensive care at a military hospital in Rawalpind.
Doctors have decided she needs long-term care to help her recover from the physical and psychological effects of the attack, and she is being moved to a rehabilitation centre in Birmingham, according to local news sources.
She is being transferred to the UK by an air ambulance arranged by the United Arab Emirates (UAE), the Pakistani army confirmed.
In a statement it said: ‘The panel of doctors recommended that Malala be shifted abroad to a UK centre which has the capability to provide integrated care to children who have sustained severe injury.
‘Pakistan has arranged with the UAE for a specially equipped air ambulance which will be used to transfer Malala to the UK. In order to provide continuity of care, an army intensive care specialist will accompany Malala on her flight.
‘All expenses including transportation of Malala by specially equipped air ambulance and treatment abroad will be borne by the government of Pakistan.’
The shooting has provoked outrage in the country and tens of thousands of people have since marched in Pakistan’s largest city, Karachi, in support of her.
Protests: Pakistani human rights activists have marched across the country to condemn the shooting of Malala
The demonstration in the southern city of Karachi was by far the largest since Malala and two of her classmates were shot on October 9 while returning home from school in Pakistan’s northwest.
The political party that organised Sunday’s rally in Karachi, the Muttahida Quami Movement, however called the Taliban gunmen who shot the girl ‘beasts’ and said the shooting was an attack on’“the ideology of Pakistan.’
Many of the demonstrators carried the young girl’s picture and banners praising her bravery and expressing solidarity.
Malala earned the enmity of the Taliban for publicising their behaviour when they took over the northwestern Swat Valley, where she lived, and for speaking about the importance of education for girls.
The group first started to exert its influence in Swat in 2007 and quickly extended its reach to much of the valley by the next year.
They set about imposing their will on residents by forcing men to grow beards, preventing women from going to the market and blowing up many schools – the majority for girls.
Malala wrote about these practices in a journal for the BBC under a pseudonym when she was just 11.
After the Taliban were pushed out of the valley in 2009 by the Pakistani military, she became even more outspoken in advocating for girls’ education.
She appeared frequently in the media and was given one of the country’s highest honours for civilians for her bravery.
The Pakistani Taliban said they carried out the shooting because Malala was promoting ‘Western thinking.’