independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Malala 'will rise again', says dad at tearful reunion

The father of a girl shot by the Pakistani Taliban for wanting to go to school said his daughter would "rise again" and has started walking and talking after asking for schoolbooks to be brought to hospital in Birmingham.

Ziauddin Yousafzai arrived at the bedside of his daughter, Malala, last night after flying from Pakistan with his wife and two sons.

The 15-year-old was shot in the head at close range a little more than two weeks ago.

Mr Yousafzai said the family had a tearful reunion and that the world's response marked a watershed for Pakistan.

"I love her," he said during an emotional news conference at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital yesterday. "Last night when we met her there were tears in our eyes out of happiness. For some time we all cried a bit.

"The person who attacked her wanted to kill her, but she fell temporarily. She will rise again and she can stand now. But when she fell, Pakistan stood and the world rose. This is a turning point."

Malala was shot as she travelled home from school on October 9 in her hometown of Mingora.

The bullet, which grazed her brain and came within centimetres of killing her, travelled through her head and neck before lodging in her left shoulder.

Responsibility

The Pakistani Taliban later claimed responsibility for the attack saying it was punishment for campaigning for the rights of girls to go to school.

She had also been the anonymous author of a diary published by the BBC documenting Taliban abuses when they controlled the Swat Valley in 2009.

In defiance of the Taliban, Malala asked her father to bring schoolbooks from Pakistan to England so she could study for her exams.

Last week, she was flown from Pakistan to Birmingham in a medically induced coma to be treated in a unit where staff have experience of treating British soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.

The hospital has been inundated with gifts and goodwill messages from around the world.

Mr Yousafzai thanked well-wishers for their prayers.

"She is improving with encouraging speed and we are very happy," he said, adding that his daughter was walking, talking and smiling. He said: "An attacker, who could be called the agent of Satan, he attacked, but after that I found angels on my side, all around me, until this time and this place."

But he described how he feared for her life in the days immediately after the attack, when she was being treated in the north-west of Pakistan.

Thankful

"A stage came in Peshawar? God forbid? I told to my brother in law that you should make preparations for her funeral. There was a stage, but thankful to God...." he said.

Farooq Sattar, a Pakistani government minister who visited the hospital a day earlier, described Malala's progress.

"The good news is that she is recovering fast," he said. "She appears to have no long-term disability. She has gradually regained her memory."

He added that she has begun a course of trauma counselling to help her deal with the attempted assassination.

It will take weeks or months for Malala to recover her strength enough to face surgery. Her skull will need reconstructing either by re-inserting bone or using a titanium plate. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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