Teenage Activist Malala Yousafzai Remains in Critical Condition

Sarah Cobarrubias

Pakistani demonstrators carry photographs of teenage activist Malala Yousafzai during an October 11 protest against her assassination attempt.

Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pak­istani girl who was shot by the Tal­iban Tues­day on her way home from school, remains in crit­i­cal condition.

Yousafzai, who was tar­get­ed for pro­mot­ing girls’ edu­ca­tion rights, was heli­coptered from the mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal in Peshawar, where she was recov­er­ing from surgery, to a mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal in Rawalpin­di that has bet­ter-qual­i­ty crit­i­cal care facil­i­ties. Doc­tors in Peshawar were able to remove the high-veloc­i­ty bul­let from near her spine. How­ev­er, one of Yousafzai’s sur­geons tells CBS News that the bul­let dam­aged crit­i­cal areas of her brain.” The next 24 hours may deter­mine the out­come for the young girl. Mum­taz Khan, one of Yousafzai’s doc­tors, told Al Jazeera that she has a 70 per­cent chance of survival.

Yousafzai entered the pub­lic eye and became a tar­get of the Tal­iban by 2009 at the age 11. She start­ed blog­ging for BBC under a pseu­do­nym, writ­ing about life in the Swat Val­ley, which was then under Tal­iban rule. Once the extrem­ists were pushed out by the mil­i­tary, Yousafzai began to pub­licly advo­cate girls’ edu­ca­tion and open­ly crit­i­cize the Tal­iban for its vio­lent deeds against girls’ schools. She was sub­se­quent­ly award­ed Pak­istan’s Nation­al Peace Award for Youth.

The assas­si­na­tion attempt has caused wide­spread pub­lic upset. Schools closed down Wednes­day in protest and prayer, and peo­ple from across the coun­try have reached out in sup­port of Yousafzai. The gov­ern­ment is also out­raged, offer­ing a $104,000 reward for infor­ma­tion lead­ing to the shooters.

Today also marks the first-ever Unit­ed Nations Inter­na­tion­al Day of the Girl Child, and the inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty has ral­lied around Yousafzai. In the Unit­ed States, Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Clin­ton praised the teenage activist, say­ing, She was attacked and shot by extrem­ists who don’t want girls to have an edu­ca­tion and don’t want girls to speak for them­selves, and don’t want girls to become leaders.”

The issues of girls’ and wom­en’s rights have fre­quent­ly served as a jus­ti­fi­ca­tion for mil­i­tary action against the Tal­iban, but among those con­demn­ing the attack are Pak­ista­nis who have also denounced U.S. pol­i­cy in Afghanistan and Pak­istan. In Lahore, about 200 peo­ple gath­ered Wednes­day in protest of the assas­si­na­tion attempt. Female mem­bers of the the Pak­istan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI), the polit­i­cal par­ty led by crick­eter-turned-oppo­si­tion fig­ure Imran Khan, held signs read­ing, We want our daugh­ters to be like Malala.”

The Tal­iban open­ly claims respon­si­bil­i­ty for the shoot­ing. Al Jazeera reports that Tal­iban spokesper­son Ehsan ullah Ehsan said in an offi­cial statement:

The Pak­istani Tal­iban suc­cess­ful­ly tar­get­ed Malala Yousafzai in Min­go­ra. Although she was young and a girl and Tal­iban does not believe in attack­ing women but whom­so­ev­er leads any cam­paign against Islam and Shari­ah is ordered to be killed by Shari­ah. It is not mere­ly allowed to kill such a per­son but it is oblig­a­tory in Islam.

While the pub­lic hopes for her recov­ery, the Tal­iban have vowed to tar­get Yousafzai again if she survives.

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