LONDON, Oct 26 (AFP) – Pakistan’s response to the shooting of the schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai by the Taliban was a “turning point” for the country, her father said at the British hospital where she is recovering. After visiting his 15-year-old daughter for the first time since he arrived in Britain with her mother and two [...]

Sunday Times 2

Malala’s father: ‘When she fell, Pakistan stood and the world rose’

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LONDON, Oct 26 (AFP) – Pakistan’s response to the shooting of the schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai by the Taliban was a “turning point” for the country, her father said at the British hospital where she is recovering.

After visiting his 15-year-old daughter for the first time since he arrived in Britain with her mother and two brothers, Ziauddin Yousafzai said she was recovering “at an encouraging speed”.

Malala Yousafzai holding hands with her brothers Khushal Khan (3rd R) and Apal Khan (R) and father Ziauddin Yousufzai, at the hospital in Birmingham (AFP)

Malala was shot in the head in an attack which attracted condemnation in Pakistan and around the world after she was singled out by the Taliban for punishment because she campaigned for girls to be educated in the Swat valley.

“When she fell, Pakistan stood and the world rose. This is a turning point,” a clearly emotional Yousafzai told journalists.†“She is not just my daughter, she is everybody’s daughter.”

He admitted he had cried when for the first time he saw her standing at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where she was brought from Pakistan on October 15.

Her father thanked the doctors at the hospital in the central English city, as well as the British and Pakistani authorities.

“She got the right treatment, at the right place, at the right time.†“She is recovering at an encouraging speed and we are very happy.”

At one point, Yousafzai had to stop and compose himself as he recalled that in the aftermath of the shooting he had asked his brother-in-law to make arrangements for a funeral because he feared Malala would not survive.

Her “whole body was swollen” after the shooting and it was a “miracle” that she had come through the attack, he said.

When asked how he felt when the family saw Malala for the first time since they arrived in Britain on Thursday, he said: “I love her and last night when we met her there were tears in our eyes out of happiness.

“We all cried a little bit.”†He said her mother was too camera-shy to attend the media briefing, but pictures released by the hospital showed the family gathered around Malala’s bed. Malala was wearing a pale green head covering.

Doctors have said a bullet grazed her brain and came within centimetres of killing her, travelling through her head and neck before lodging in her left shoulder.†She requires reconstructive surgery, but she must first fight off an infection in the path of the bullet and recover her strength, which could take months.

Her skull will need reconstructing either by reinserting bone or using a titanium plate.†Malala has received thousands of goodwill messages from around the world.

Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, now a UN education envoy, said he will meet Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari on November 9-10 to present him with a list of supporters worldwide for Malala’s campaign for education.

November 10 has been declared a global day of action and some 850,000 people have signed petitions backing Malala’s call for millions of girls to be allowed to attend school.†Malala rose to prominence three years ago, aged just 11, writing a blog for the BBC Urdu service describing life under the Taliban’s hardline rule in the Swat valley in northwestern Pakistan.




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