The family of Malala Yousafzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl who is recovering in hospital after a shooting by Taliban gunmen, has declared that they will not be cowed by fear, nor will they seek to flee the country.
Taliban gunmen had shot Malala as she walked home from school in the Swat Valley in northwestern Pakistan earlier in the week, apparently in revenge for her campaign to encourage education for local girls.
Malala remains in critical condition in an army hospital in Peshawar after surgeons successfully removed a bullet from her head. However, it is unclear if she will make a full recovery – the next few days are critical to her ultimate survival.
Ziaddun Yousafzai, Malala’s father, told The Daily Telegraph of Britain: "We wouldn't leave our country if my daughter survives or not. We have an ideology that advocates peace. The Taliban cannot stop all independent voices through the force of bullets."
The father also noted that his family have been bombarded by threats for years, but have never considered seeking bodyguards.
"We stayed away from that because she is a young female. The tradition here does not allow a female to have men close by," he said.
On Wednesday, the Pakistan Taliban repeated that will try to kill Malala as well as her family.
A spokesman for the group, Ehsanullah Ehsan, warned that her life remains in danger, according to BBC Urdu.
“It’s a clear command of sharia [Islamic law] that any female, that by any means plays a role in war against the mujahedeen, should be killed,” he said.
Ehsan also told Agence France Presse that Malala had been repeatedly warned not to criticize the Taliban.
“She is a Western-minded girl. She always speaks against us. We will target anyone who speaks against the Taliban," he said.
Malala became a celebrity of sorts three years ago by writing a diary about her life which chronicled her time in the Swat Valley under the Taliban, who ordered the closing or destruction of hundreds of girls’ schools, not only in Swat, but also in the nearby provinces of Bajaur and Mohmand.
Although Taliban forces were driven out of Swat by 2009, the government has rebuilt very few of the educational institutions since that time.
Malala's doctors said she is too ill to be moved now anyway, but eventually she may need more sophisticated medical treatments abroad. Reportedly, a Pakistani International Airlines jet is on standby on the tarmac in Peshawar airport, ready to fly to Dubai, if and when Malala is ready for emergency surgery.
The Pakistani government has also offered to pay for all medical costs that she incurs.
Meanwhile, in a country numbed to ceaseless violence and terrorism, the shooting of an innocent 14-year-old girl has struck a chord. Protests against the Taliban have sprouted across the country, renewing pressure on the government to stamp out the militants.
Dawn, an English-language newspaper in Pakistan, documented the pulse of the nation’s anger over the shorting of Malala by asking ordinary people some of their feels on the matter:
Ali Khan, a college graduate: "This case should be investigated thoroughly, and the attack condemned as much as possible. Steps should be taken to collaborate with local government to depoliticize the law enforcement and end militant activity. It is clear that these people are against education."
Behram, a customer at a newsagent: The media seems to have no trouble reaching the [Pakistani Taliban], they can find them and ask them questions - So why can't the government find them? Why don't they take action against them? Malala is our daughter, our sister, she belongs to Pakistan. What was her sin? My message to the government is 'Think of something other than your seats of power. Don't be blind! Open your eyes! Lest these waters overwhelm you!'"
Amal, a student: “We must end this terrorism, but I don't think I have any hope from the government. "
Zubair Khan, a cobbler: "The government should work harder against Talibanisation. No country can progress without education because it is essential to progress. Attacking students is an extremely condemnable act."
Bina, a female banker: "We can't expect anything from this ignorant government, there is nothing they can do - things have gotten worse in this regard since they came into power... We hope that Malala gets better soon and recovers."
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