The 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban was reunited with her family yesterday – as her father spoke of his joy at the “miracle” of her treatment in Britain.
The attempted murder of Malala Yousafzai had been a “turning point” for his country that had united people of all faiths in horror against violent extremism, Ziauddin Yousafzai said during a visit to the NHS hospital where she is being treated.
Malala was shot down while travelling home from school with two classmates in the Swat valley in north-west Pakistan – an area once ruled by the Taliban. The teenager has been an outspoken public campaigner for girls’ education, something which the Taliban are vehemently against.
Mr Yousafzai, his wife and two sons were reunited with Malala, who is being treated at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, after flying in from Islamabad on Thursday night. Doctors now say they expect her to make a full recovery despite significant damage to her skull and jaw.
Her father said she would “rise again” despite being shot in the head at point-blank range on 9 October.
At a news conference Mr Yousafzai, sitting beside Malala’s younger brother, Kushal Khan, 12, described the shooting as a pivotal moment for the country and said the decision to fly her to the UK was a “miracle”.
“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,” he said. “In Pakistan for the first time we saw that all political parties, the government, children, women, elders, they were crying and praying to God. Christians, Sikhs, Hindus, indifferent of caste, colour or creed, they prayed for my daughter. I’m thankful to all the people all over the world. They condemned the attack and prayed for my daughter … She will rise again, she will stand again.”
His message of hope comes after police in Pakistan named the prime suspect in connection with the shooting as Atta Ullah Khan, 23, a chemistry student from the Swat district.
Dr David Rosser, who is treating the teenager in Birmingham, said Malala was now walking with very little help, eating well and talking, and both her short and long term memory seemed intact. Specialists are increasingly confident that her brain is relatively unscathed despite the bullet entering just above the back of her left eye.
Dr Rosser said her skull would need reconstructive surgery over the coming weeks but that her long-term prognosis was “excellent”. He said: “She’s very tired but she managed a big smile for her mum and dad and her brothers … There’s no reason to think she won’t make near to a full recovery.”
Mr Yousafzai fought back tears as he described how he was told to prepare for Malala’s funeral after the shooting. “I’m thankful to God,” he said. “I found angels on my side all around me … she got the right treatment, at the right place, at the right time.
He added: “I am thankful that you are very much concerned about my daughter’s health. You have supported the cause for which she stands, the cause of peace and education.”