Pakistan’s interior minister and the foreign ministers of Britain and the UAE on Monday visited the English hospital treating Malala Yousufzai.
Britain’s Foreign Office said the trio also met the father of 15-year-old Malala, who was flown from Pakistan on Oct 15 for treatment at the specialist hospital in Birmingham in an air ambulance provided by the United Arab Emirates.
“I visited the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, today to enquire after the health of Malala and to convey messages of good health and best wishes on behalf of the government and the whole Pakistani nation,” said Interior Minister Rehman Malik. “We are grateful to the hospital authorities, especially the doctors treating Malala, for taking care of her in a most professional manner. As a result, she has made very good recovery in the past few days.”
He expressed gratitude to Britain and the UAE for their support for Malala, who needs reconstructive surgery after a bullet grazed her brain in an Oct 9 attack claimed by the Taliban.
“Malala’s incident should not be seen in isolation,” Malik said. “She is a symbol of courage and determination against the forces of extremist ideology.
“The attack on her was also meant to tarnish the true face of Pakistan and to discourage those struggling for human liberties and for the democratisation of our society.
“Let me reassure our international friends that such acts of cowardice will not deter us, and the whole Pakistani nation stands behind Malala and her cause.”
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Malala’s swift recovery was an “absolute priority”. “The people of Pakistan have paid a high price from terrorism and extremism,” he added. “We will stand by all those who, like Malala, are courageously defending the rights of
women, in Pakistan and around the world.”
The UAE’s Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan, said his government had provided assistance because its citizens were “appalled” by the attack on her school bus in the Swat valley.
“She is in our prayers,” he said. “Malala’s courage inspires us to reinforce our commitment to rejecting ideologies rooted in intolerance and extremism.”
The hospital said the teenager had spent a “restful” weekend surrounded by her family, who arrived in Britain last week. “She continues to make good progress,” it said in a statement.
Pakistan is paying for her care at the Birmingham hospital, which also treats British soldiers seriously wounded in Afghanistan.
Malala has received thousands of goodwill messages from around the world.
Former British prime minister Gordon Brown, now a UN education envoy, has said he will meet President Asif Ali Zardari on November 9-10 to present him with a list of supporters worldwide for Malala’s campaign for education.
November 10 has been declared a global day of action and more than 800,000 people have signed petitions backing Malala’s call for millions of girls to be allowed to attend school.