William Hague meets Taliban victim Malala Yousafzai's father

 

Foreign Secretary William Hague has met with the father of a teenage girl who was flown to Britain for treatment after being shot in the head by a Taliban gunman in Pakistan.

Mr Hague also chatted with staff caring for 15-year-old Malala Yousafzai while visiting Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital along with the Pakistani Interior Minister, Rehman Malik.

In a statement issued after the visit, the Foreign Secretary praised the courage of Malala - who escaped death by inches when a bullet "grazed" her brain - in standing up for women's rights.

Mr Hague, who was also accompanied by the Foreign Minister of the United Arab Emirates, said: "We are profoundly grateful to the full multi-disciplinary team of medical staff at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, for all they are doing to help Malala recover from her appalling injuries.

"I offered our support and sympathy to Mr Yousafzai and his family as they go through this ordeal, as well as our best wishes for Eid al-Adha."

Mr Hague added: "Malala's swift and full recovery is our absolute priority but we are also determined to do all we can to champion education for women and girls in Pakistan.

"The people of Pakistan have paid a high price from terrorism and extremism.

"We will stand by all those who, like Malala, are courageously defending the rights of women, in Pakistan and around the world."

The ministers paid a visit to the hospital three days after Malala's father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, described the decision to fly his daughter to the UK as a "miracle" and vowed that she would "rise again".

Mr Yousafzai, his wife and their two sons flew to the UK last Thursday to be with Malala, who was travelling home from school with two classmates when she was shot at point-blank range on October 9.

Doctors have established that a bullet travelled along the side of Malala's jaw, damaging her skull and jaw joint on the left hand side.

The round, which was removed by surgeons in Pakistan, initially struck Malala's left brow, but, instead of penetrating the skull, travelled underneath the skin along the whole length of the side of her head, and into her neck.

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed said after the visit: "The people of the UAE were appalled by what happened to Malala, which is why we helped to bring her for medical care in the UK.

"Malala's courage inspires us to reinforce our commitment to rejecting ideologies rooted in intolerance and extremism.

"By helping Malala, whose courage we applaud, the UAE is also voicing its firm belief in the right of girls to education everywhere."

In a separate statement, Mr Malik said: "I visited the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham to inquire after the health of Malala and to convey messages of good health and best wishes on behalf of the government and the whole Pakistani nation.

"We are grateful to the hospital authorities, especially the doctors treating Malala, for taking care of her in a most professional manner.

"As a result, she has made very good recovery in the past few days."

Hailing Malala as a symbol of courage and determination against the forces of extremist ideology, Mr Malik continued: "The attack on her was also meant to tarnish the true face of Pakistan and to discourage those struggling for human liberties and for the democratisation of our society.

"Let me reassure our international friends that such acts of cowardice will not deter us, and the whole Pakistani nation stands behind Malala and her cause."

The cost of Malala's ongoing medical care is being met by the Pakistan Government, while the United Arab Emirates provided the air ambulance which transported her to the UK.

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which cares for soldiers with gunshot injuries flown back to the UK from Afghanistan, said Malala had a "restful" weekend and continued to make good progress.

PA

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