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Hospital resists requests to meet Malala

By: Murtaza Ali Shah

LONDON: The Birmingham hospital treating Malala has defied political pressure from Pakistani and UK politicians who have inundated the hospital with requests for allowing them to meet Malala and pose with her for publicity images.

A source at the hospital confided to The News that dozens of requests have been received by the hospital from powerful politicians from Pakistan as well as some from the UK for media-ops but the hospital has turned down all such requests so far and have refused to treat requests from some of the most senior government figures.

The first video of Malala with her family was released on Monday in which the young girl is seen talking to her parents. The News is aware that “official meeting requests” from Pakistani and British government have been made, including a plea made by Malala’s father Ziauddin Yousufzai for an official meeting, but the hospital doctors are taking no chance and not buckling under the pressure.

A source at the hospital said: “We have never received so much interest for any patient. Requests for meeting have been flooding in from government figures, politicians, NGOs and media but we have the welfare of Malala on our minds. We will not expose her under any circumstances and we are glad she is recovering well.”

The News has learnt that the hospital is only allowing two hours to Malala’s family members to visit her, an hour in the morning and an hour in the evening but they are under strict health and safety guidelines while inside the ward Malala is making recovery, on way to the reconstruction surgery.

Some of the leading figures who have so far visited the hospital in Birmingham are Aseefa Bhutto Zardari, who spent Eid with Malala’s family in Birmingham on October 26th, Minister for Overseas Pakistanis Dr Farooq Sattar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, Awamy National Party (ANP) Swat lawmaker Dr Haider Ali, and Pakistani’s High Commissioner to the UK Wajid Shamsul Hasan.

Meanwhile, British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, Emirati Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed, and Pakistan’s Interior Minister Rehman Malik visited the hospital on Monday and met Dr David Rosser, the hospital’s Medical Director, and Ziauddin Yousufzai. They chatted with staff caring for Malala and were briefed by Dr Dave Rosser.

In a statement issued after the visit, the foreign secretary praised her courage. Hague said: “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.”

Rehman Malik said he had visited the hospital to covey best wishes on behalf of the government and the whole Pakistani nation. Malik said: “Malala’s incident should not be seen in isolation. She is a symbol of courage and determination against the forces of extremist ideology. 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.

Besides, she is a strong exponent of education, especially for girls. 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. We will do whatever possible to counter obscurantist forces and to take Pakistan on the path of peace and moderation, as envisioned by our founding fathers.”

UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed said the people of the UAE were appalled by what happened to Malala. “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.”

Malala Yousafzai’s father on Saturday thanked President Asif Ali Zardari and Chief of the Army Staff General Ashfaq Pervez Kayani for the support provided to his daughter after the tragic Swat incident.

In an interview with journalists, after meeting his daughter at a Birmingham hospital, Ziauddin Yousufzai said he was happy to see his daughter and her improving health condition.He also thanked all those people who were concerned about Malala’s health and the support provided to her for promoting peace and education in Swat.

INP adds: Meanwhile, Rehman Malik said the authorities were searching for the main suspect Attaullah and others involved in the attack on Malala Yousafzai. The interior minister while talking to a US news channel said Malala’s attackers were identified within 24 hours.

Malik added that Malala and her parents could stay in the UK as long as need be and she would be provided foolproof security upon her return to Pakistan.

The News