* Air ambulance on way to Britain
* Pakistanis outraged, but no end to militancy in sight
* Schoolgirl wanted to be a politician
ISLAMABAD, Oct 15 The Pakistani schoolgirl shot
by Taliban gunmen for advocating education for girls has been
sent to the United Kingdom for medical treatment, a military
spokesman said on Monday.
The spokesman said in a statement that 14-year-old Malala
Yousufzai, whose shooting has drawn widespread condemnation,
will require prolonged care to fully recover physically and
An air ambulance transporting Yousufzai, provided by the
United Arab Emirates, had departed from Islamabad and was
heading for the United Kingdom, said the spokesman.
"The panel of doctors recommended that Malala be shifted
abroad to a UK centre which has the capability to provide
integrated care to children who have sustained severe injury,"
said the spokesman in a statement.
An attack by about 50 militants on a police outpost near the
large northwestern city of Peshawar on Sunday night highlighted
Pakistan's struggle to contain the Taliban and its allies. At
least six policemen were killed.
Yousufzai, a cheerful schoolgirl who had wanted to become a
doctor before agreeing to her father's wishes that she strive to
be a politician, has become a potent symbol of resistance
against the Taliban's efforts to deprive girls of an education.
Pakistanis have held some protests and candlelight vigils
but most government officials have refrained from publicly
criticising the Taliban by name over the attack, in what critics
say is a lack of resolve against extremism.
Opponents of Pakistan's government and military say the
shooting is another example of the state's failure to tackle
militancy, the biggest threat to the stability of the
nuclear-armed South Asian country.
The shooting of Yousufzai was the culmination of years of
campaigning that had pitted the young girl against one of
Pakistan's most ruthless Taliban commanders, Maulana Fazlullah.
Fazlullah and his faction of the Pakistani Taliban took over
Yusufzai's native Swat Valley in 2009 after reaching an
agreement with the government which gave them de facto control
of the former tourist spot.
Fazlullah imposed the Taliban's austere version of Islam
there, blowing up girls' schools and publicly executing those
deemed immoral. The army later launched a major offensive in
Swat, forcing many Taliban fighters to flee.
Fazlullah's men simply melted away across the porous border
to Afghanistan. Earlier this year, they kidnapped and beheaded
17 Pakistani soldiers in one of several cross-border raids that
have become a new security headache for Pakistan.
Yousufzai continued speaking out despite the danger. As her
fame grew, Fazlullah tried everything he could to silence her.
The Taliban published death threats in the newspapers and
slipped them under her door. But she ignored them.
The Taliban say that's why they sent assassins, despite a
tribal code forbidding the killing of women.
Taliban sources said Fazlullah ordered two men specialising
in high-profile assassinations to kill Yousufzai.
Pakistan's Taliban, who are linked to al Qaeda, has been
fighting for years to topple the U.S.-backed government and
establish the kind of rule they imposed in Swat.
The United States and other Western allies who give Pakistan
billions of dollars in aid have been pushing Islamabad to crack
down harder on the Taliban, al Qaeda and other groups that have
formed a complex web of militancy.
Pakistan says Western criticism of its performance is
unjustified, and that it has sacrificed more than any other
country that joined the U.S. war on militancy after the
September 11, 2001 attacks.
Thousands of soldiers and civilians have been killed.
The attack on Yousufzai has angered many Pakistanis, raising
questions over whether the incident could sharply turn public
opinion against the militants and give the military a big edge.
But many experts argue the war on militancy can only be won
if the government strengthens the fragile economy and creates
jobs to ensure that fewer people join radical groups who exploit
disillusionment with the state.
The Taliban struck again on Sunday night, attacking the
police outpost near Peshawar with rocket-propelled grenades and
gunfire. Security officials said at least six policemen were
killed, including two who were beheaded.
Seven policemen are still missing and presumed kidnapped.
Several police cars and an armoured vehicle were torched.
The Taliban has been blamed for many suicide bombings across
Pakistan and have also staged sophisticated, high-profile
attacks on the military, one of the biggest in the world.
Pakistan's interior minister said police had despatched
guards to protect journalists who had been threatened by Taliban
militants angered by coverage of Yousufzai's case.
The Taliban, based mostly in the unruly ethnic Pashtun
tribal areas near the Afghan border, have said they would now
try to kill her father, a headmaster of a girls' school in Swat.