After a final assessment made by doctors at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH), iconic child activist Malala Yousafzai was finally flown to the UK on Monday for further treatment.
The peace icon was taken in a specially equipped air ambulance provided by the UAE on a request from the Pakistan government, after her family consented to the transfer early Monday morning. On her arrival, Malala was transferred to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, where she will receive specialist medical care. She was accompanied on her flight by an army intensive care specialist.
All expenses, including Malala’s transportation and treatment abroad, will be borne by the Pakistan government.
According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) spokesperson Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, the medical team treating the 14-year-old had been reviewing her progress at regular intervals and had been in consultation with international experts. He added that the medical team was pleased with her present condition, described as “optimal”.
The spokesperson said it was expected that Malala would eventually require both repair and replacement treatment of damaged bones in the skull and long-term rehabilitation, including intensive neuro-rehabilitation.
UK welcomes transfer
The UK welcomed Pakistan’s stance against the attack on Malala. Foreign Secretary William Hague said, “The UK stands shoulder to shoulder with Pakistan in its fight against terrorism.”
“Last week’s barbaric attack on Malala and her school friends shocked Pakistan and the world. Malala’s bravery in standing up for the right of all young girls in Pakistan to an education is an example to us all,” read a statement issued by the British High Commission in Islamabad.
Hague added that the public revulsion and condemnation of the attack shows that “the people of Pakistan will not be beaten by terrorists.”
The statement added that Malala’s transfer followed “an offer by the UK government to assist Malala in any way that we could.”
The other two victims
Meanwhile, in spite of the government’s announcement that it would help the other two girls injured in the Taliban attack, no aid appears to have come forth so far.
Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Riaz were respectively receiving treatment in the Peshawar CMH and Swat.
Kainat’s father, Riaz Khan, told The Express Tribune that provincial government officials had contacted him about medical treatment of his daughter but never showed up – while he continues to bear all the expenses for his daughter’s treatment, who was shifted home after receiving initial treatment at Saidu Sharif Hospital.
“Despite presidential directions, nobody from the federal or provincial governments contacted me to enquire about Kainat’s condition and needs … was that just a publicity stunt performed for a few initial days?” Riaz questioned.
According to Shazia’s uncle, Sher Muhammad Khan, “After Malala, Shazia was shot in the shoulder but now she is a bit stable and is recovering from her injuries.” He added that due to excessive bleeding on Tuesday, she was now facing a blood deficiency according to medics.
It is yet to be known if the government will pay for Shazia’s hospital bills once she is discharged.
Malala, an advocate for girls’ education and their rights, and her two school-mates were attacked on October 9 in Swat on her way back from school by two armed men. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan later claimed responsibility for the attack.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 16th, 2012.