Pakistani girl shot by Taliban in UK for treatment

14-year-old girl Taliban terrorists shot because she spoke out for her right to go to school sent to Birmingham hospital.

 Malala Yousufzai (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohsin Raza)
Malala Yousufzai
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohsin Raza)
A 14-year-old Pakistani girl whom Taliban terrorists shot last week because she spoke out for her right to go to school was airlifted to the United Kingdom on Monday for medical treatment, as the international outcry over the attack grew.
Malala Yousafzai, a blogger whom the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley have acknowledged trying to assassinate, was moved to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. The hospital regularly treats British soldiers seriously wounded in Afghanistan, a spokeswoman for British Prime Minister David Cameron said.
“The panel of doctors recommended that Malala be shifted abroad to a UK center which has the capability to provide integrated care to children who have sustained severe injury,” a military spokesman in Islamabad said, Reuters reported.
The increasing global attention paid to Malala’s ordeal, and the larger international campaign to ensure that girls everywhere have access to education, shows how wide is the gap between conservative forces that are reluctant to take on the Taliban, and more liberal circles that think the Pakistani government should treat the incident as “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
While around the world, politicians and average people continued to express shock over October 9’s intentional shooting of Malala in the head and neck, in Pakistan many took the intense reaction in the West as sign that the event was being “spun” for political purposes.
At the center of the controversy is a publication of a recent photo of Malala and her father – a girls’ school principal who defied Taliban orders to shut down – with US envoy Richard Holbrooke.
Islamist newspapers and websites have tried to use the photo to paint her as a US spy. Now, more conservative Pakistani papers are full of fantastic conspiracy theories – from Malala being a Western plant to the embarrassing shooting being the fault of the US, India and Israel – the usual suspects.
“Initially there was a strong, sympathetic reaction from everyone. But then people who wanted to use it for their Internet campaigns took it on, and as a result, everyone got very suspicious.
There’s a sense here that at the least, she was hand-fed,” said Saifullah Mahsud, the executive director of the FATA Research Center, a think tank focusing on the Federally Administrated Tribal Areas (FATA) where the Taliban enjoys support and latitude to operate.
“There’s a belief here that perhaps she was used by the Americans and made into an icon when she wasn’t,” he explained in a interview from the center’s Islamabad office.
By putting the emphasis on Malala, these groups say, it takes attention away from US military activities in Pakistan – or perhaps justifies it. The drone attacks in search of Taliban terrorists have led to the deaths of 18 children, according to a popular estimate.
“Conservatives are trying paint her on Facebook as being as someone who was created by the US, and who is sitting with infidels against fellow Muslims,” Mahsud said, referring to the picture of Malala with Holbrooke.
Outrage over Malala’s shooting continues to pour in from around the world, from both average citizens and senior politicians. In the latest development, former British prime minister Gordon Brown has launched a United Nations petition in Malala’s name, using the slogan “I am Malala” and demanding that all children worldwide be in school by the end of 2015. Brown will hand the petition to Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari in November, his office announced.
Prominent Pakistani journalist and author Ahmed Rashid described in a New Yorker blog why Malala’s story was much bigger than it seemed, and was a critical point for Pakistan.
“Since 9/11 the Pakistani military has failed to adopt a comprehensive strategy toward terrorism and extremism,” wrote Rashid, author of the book Taliban: Militant Islam, Oil and Fundamentalism in Central Asia.
He continued, “Is this the moment for one to develop? For years, critics like me have been voices in the wilderness trying to point out that the military needs to change its narrative and stop backing extremists in the name of countering India if it is to allow Pakistan to develop as a modern state.
Now could be that moment – one provided, tragically, by the shooting of a 14-year-old girl who is now fighting for her life. It won’t last forever.”