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Malala will rise again

BIRMINGHAM: The father of Malala Yousufzai said on Friday she would “rise again” to pursue her dreams. Ziauddin Yousufzai and other family members arrived in Britain on Thursday to help her recovery.

“They wanted to kill her. But she fell temporarily. She will rise again. She will stand again,” he told reporters, his voice breaking with emotion. Malala has become a powerful symbol of resistance to the Taliban’s efforts to deny women’s education. “When she fell, Pakistan stood … this is a turning point,” her father said.

“(In) Pakistan for the first time … all political parties, the government, the children, the elders, they were crying and praying to God.” The Taliban have said they attacked her because she spoke out against the group and praised US President Barack Obama.

A cheerful schoolgirl who wants to become a politician, Malala Yousufzai began speaking out against the Taliban when she was 11, around the time when the government had effectively ceded control of the Swat Valley to the militants.

She has been in critical condition since gunmen shot her in the head and neck as she left school in Swat. She could be at risk of further attack if she went back to Pakistan, where Taliban insurgents have issued more death threats against her and her father since she was shot.

“It’s a miracle for us,” her father said. She was in a very bad condition … She is improving with encouraging speed.” Dave Rosser, the hospital’s medical director, said she would be strong enough to travel back to Pakistan in a few months’ time.

“She’s certainly showing every intention of keeping up with her studies,” Rosser added. Malala’s father said he and his family cried when they were finally reunited with her on Thursday.

“I love her and of course last night when we met her there were tears in our eyes and they were out of happiness,” he said, adding that Malala had asked him to bring school textbooks from Pakistan so she could study.

“She told me on the phone, please bring me my books of Class 9 and I will attempt my examination,” he said. “We are very happy … I pray for her. She is not just my daughter, she is everybody’s daughter,” he said. He thanked the doctors at the hospital in the city in central England, saying: “She got the right treatment, at the right place, at the right time.”

At one point, Ziauddin had to stop and compose himself as he recalled how in the aftermath of the shooting he asked his brother-in-law to make arrangements for a funeral because he did not believe Malala would survive.

After flying into Britain’s second city, the family of Malala was given a police escort through Birmingham to the hospital. A spokeswoman for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital said Malala was comfortable and continued to respond well to treatment. She has received thousands of goodwill messages from around the world since she was attacked.

It will take weeks to months for her to defeat an infection in the bullet track and recover her strength enough to face surgery. Her skull will need reconstructing either by reinserting bone or using a titanium plate.