LONDON -- The father of Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot in the head for standing up to the Taliban in defense of education for girls, called his daughter’s survival a miracle Friday and vowed that she would “rise again.”
Ziauddin Yousafzai, visiting his daughter for the first time since she was flown from Pakistan for treatment in a British hospital, also said that the global and domestic outrage over the attack on Malala represented a “turning point” for his troubled country.
“They wanted to kill her, but I would say that she fell temporarily. She will rise again, she will stand again,” Yousafzai told reporters. “When she fell, Pakistan stood.”
Yousafzai and other members of Malala’s family arrived in Britain on Thursday for an emotional reunion with the wounded 15-year-old, who was shot by Taliban militants at point-blank range Oct. 9. Two other girls on the school bus with Malala were also injured, one critically.
Six days later, Malala arrived at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, in central England. Doctors say the teenager is making a slow but steady recovery.
“Last night when we met her there were tears in our eyes … out of happiness,” said Yousafzai, who lives in Pakistan’s scenic but embattled Swat Valley, where Taliban militants have sought to impose their harshly fundamentalist interpretation of Islam.
“She got the right treatment at the right place at the right time,” he said. “An attacker who could be called the agent of Satan, he attacked, but … I found angels on my side -- everywhere all around me -- in this time, in this place.”
Malala rose to prominence by speaking out against the Taliban’s opposition to education for girls and by keeping a blog of her experiences for the BBC’s Urdu Service. Her shooting sparked revulsion in Pakistan and around the world, and triggered large rallies in her support.
Her father said that he initially feared she might not survive the brazen attack.
“The next day when she was operated [on], her whole body was swollen, and she was in very bad condition …. I told my brother-in-law that you should make preparations for her funeral,” Yousafzai recalled, fighting back tears.
The bullet entered Malala’s head near the temple and burrowed down the side of her head and neck before lodging above her shoulder blade. The impact drove bone fragments from her skull into her brain, but doctors say they have not detected “any deficit in terms of function” so far.
Malala has been able to stand up with help from hospital staffers, and she has communicated through writing. Doctors say that she will eventually undergo reconstructive surgery to her skull and possibly her jaw, but that she first needs some weeks of rest.
“I’m thankful to all the people all over the world, indifferent to caste, creed, religion, faith, country, age, sex -- everyone, everyone across the world,” her father said. “They condemned the attack in strong words, and they prayed for my daughter, who is not only my daughter; she is the daughter
of everybody, the sister of everybody.”
ALSO:Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan, shot by Taliban, able to stand
-- Henry Chu
Photo: Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl who was shot in the head by the Taliban, lies in her hospital bed in central England with her father and brothers at her side. Credit: Queen Elizabeth Hospital