BIRMINGHAM: 14-year-old Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban has every chance of making a “good recovery”, British doctors said on Monday as the Pakistani school girl arrived at a hospital in central England for treatment of her severe wounds.
Malala, who was shot for advocating education for girls, was flown from Pakistan to receive specialist treatment at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital at a unit expert in dealing with complex trauma cases that has treated hundreds of soldiers wounded in Afghanistan.
“Doctors...believe she has a chance of making a good recovery on every level,” said Dr Dave Rosser, the hospital's medical director, adding that her treatment and rehabilitation could take months.
He told reporters that Malala, whose shooting has drawn widespread condemnation, had not yet been assessed by British medics but said she would not have been brought to Britain at all if her prognosis was not good.
TV footage showed a patient, believed to be the schoolgirl, being rushed from an ambulance into the hospital surrounded by a large team of medical staff.
She will now undergo scans to reveal the extent of her injuries, but Rosser said they could not provide any further details without her agreement.
Pakistani surgeons removed a bullet from near her spinal cord during a three-hour operation the day after the attack last week, but she now needs intensive specialist follow-up care.
They have said Malala needs treatment for a damaged skull and “intensive neuro-rehabilitation.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said the “barbaric” attack on Malala had “shocked Pakistan and the world.” “Malala will now receive specialist medical care in an NHS (National Health Service) hospital,” he said.
“The public revulsion and condemnation of this cowardly attack shows that the people of Pakistan will not be beaten by terrorists.” Security concerns meant Malala’s departure after daybreak from Islamabad Airport – in an air ambulance provided by the United Arab Emirates – was not announced until the plane was airborne.
Malala, who had been treated in a Pakistani military hospital, was accompanied on the plane by an intensive care specialist.
Asked if Malala will be guarded at the Birmingham hospital, Cameron’s spokeswoman said: “You wouldn’t expect me to talk about security matters in detail but certainly security has been taken into account.”
The shooting has been denounced worldwide and by Pakistan, which has said it will do everything possible to ensure Malala recovers and will meet all the costs of her treatment.
The cold-blooded murder attempt has sickened Pakistan, where Malala came to prominence with a blog for the BBC highlighting atrocities under the hardline Islamist Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who terrorised the Swat valley from 2007 until an army offensive in 2009.
Activists say the shooting should be a wake-up call to those who advocate appeasement with the Taliban, but analysts suspect there will be no significant change in a country that has sponsored radical Islam for decades.
On Sunday, around 10,000 people gathered in Karachi for a rally in support of Malala, organised by the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM).
But right-wing and conservative religious leaders have refrained from publicly denouncing the Taliban. They have warned the government against using the attack on Malala as a pretext for an offensive in the militant bastion of North Waziristan.
The United States has long called on Pakistan to wage an operation in the district, considered the leadership base of the Haqqani network – blamed for some of the deadliest attacks in Afghanistan – as well as a Taliban stronghold.
Malala was first airlifted from Swat to a military hospital in the northwestern city of Peshawar, then to the country’s top military hospital in Rawalpindi, where doctors on Sunday took her off a ventilator for a “successful” short trial.
The army said a panel of Pakistani doctors and international experts agreed Malala needed “prolonged care to fully recover from the physical and psychological effects of trauma that she has received.”
It is also expected that damaged bones in her skull will need to be repaired, and that she will need “long-term rehabilitation, including intensive neuro-rehabilitation.”
Schools and mosques across Pakistan have held special prayers for Malala.
Pakistan has offered more than $100,000 for the capture of her attackers.
A senior police official told AFP that investigators have questioned dozens of suspects, but that the hunt for the main culprits was continuing.
Ahmad Shah, police station chief in the town of Mingora where Malala was shot, has said nearly 200 people were detained including the bus driver and a school watchman, but most have been released.