BIRMINGHAM, England (Reuters) - The father of a Pakistani girl shot in the head by the Taliban for advocating girls’ education said on Friday she would “rise again” to pursue her dreams after hospital treatment.
Malala Yousufzai, 15, was flown from Pakistan to Britain for specialist treatment after the October 9 attack, which drew widespread international condemnation.
The father 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 education. Public fury in Pakistan over her shooting has put pressure on the military to mount an offensive against the radical Islamist group.
“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 U.S. President Barack Obama.
A cheerful schoolgirl who wants to become a politician, Malala Yousufzai began speaking out against the Pakistani 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, northwest of Islamabad.
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.”
British doctors say Malala has every chance of making a good recovery at the special hospital unit, expert in dealing with complex trauma cases. It has treated hundreds of soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.
Dave Rosser, the hospital’s medical director, said she would be strong enough to travel back to Pakistan in a few months’ time but it was unclear whether the family would choose to do so.
“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.”
Writing by Maria Golovnina; editing by Andrew Roche