Skip to main content

Pakistan teen's plight to survive would-be assassin's bullet 'slow and steady'

By Reza Sayah and Shaan Khan, CNN
October 14, 2012 -- Updated 2043 GMT (0443 HKT)
Pakistani Christians attend a prayer service for the recovery of teen activist Malala Yousufzai in Lahore on Sunday, November 11. Pakistan celebrated Malala Day on Saturday as part of a global day of support for the teenager shot by the Taliban. Pakistani Christians attend a prayer service for the recovery of teen activist Malala Yousufzai in Lahore on Sunday, November 11. Pakistan celebrated Malala Day on Saturday as part of a global day of support for the teenager shot by the Taliban.
HIDE CAPTION
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
=Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
Supporters rally behind Malala
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
>
>>
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • In Karachi, massive posters say "Malala, our prayers are with you"
  • Malala Yousufzai, 14, remains unconscious and on a ventilator in a Rawalpindi hospital
  • "She is making slow and steady progress," the Pakistani military said
  • She was targeted by the Taliban because she wanted to go to school, the military says

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- Malala Yousufzai's defiance is the stuff of legend: A 14-year-old teenager who took to the Internet to tell the world of her daily battle against the Pakistan Taliban to get an education.

So, too, is her fight to survive a would-be assassin's bullet to the head.

Her plight has united much of the nation, with everyone from elected officials to children decrying the attempted killing of the teen. Thousands took to the streets Sunday in Karachi, at a rally supporting Malala organized by the fiercely anti-Taliban MQM political party.

Massive posters and billboards said, "Malala, our prayers are with you."

Attack on teen blogger consumes Pakistan

The teen remained under the close watch of doctors at a Rawalpindi hospital where she was unconscious and on a ventilator.

We will go out and encourage all girls to study.
Unidentified Pakistani girl reacting to Taliban threats

"She is making slow and steady progress which is in keeping with expectations," the Pakistani military said in a statement released Sunday. "Recovery from this type of injury is always slow."

Doctors will assess Malala's progress again Sunday evening, the statement said.

Over the weekend, the teen moved her limbs after doctors "reduced sedation to make a clinical assessment," military spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa said.

It was the first indication that young Malala may recover from the shooting, though Bajwa cautioned against "putting a percentage" on her survival.

"Such cases are very rare, that you get hit directly in the head and you survive," Bajwa told CNN in an interview that aired Sunday.

"...We are hopeful. She is getting the best treatment that she could."

A delegation from the United Arab Emirates arrived Sunday to check on Malala's condition and is exploring the possibility of offering her medical treatment outside of Pakistan, two UAE officials said.

Malala had become a Pakistani and international icon for her efforts defending the right of girls to go to school where she lives, the Taliban-heavy Swat Valley.

She was riding home in a school van on Tuesday in the tense region, which sits along the Afghan border, when gunmen jumped into the vehicle and demanded to know which girl she was. Her horrified classmates pointed to her, and the men fired. Two other girls were wounded, but not seriously.

Pakistani official: Teen blogger's shooting 'wake-up call' to 'danger'

Since then, supporters have gathered around the country for vigils to pray for her recovery. Government officials in Peshawar, the main city in the northwestern region where Malala is from, were silent for one minute in her honor.

14-year-old activist clings to life
Teen blogger in critical condition
Activist 'inspires Pakistan students'
Pakistani FM on attack of young girl

Malala gained fame for blogging about how girls should have rights in Pakistan, including the right to learn. She spoke out in a region of the country where support for Islamic fundamentalism runs high.

"I have the right of education," she said in a CNN interview last year. "I have the right to play. I have the right to sing. I have the right to talk. I have the right to go to market. I have the right to speak up."

Malala, whose writing earned her Pakistan's first National Peace Prize, also encouraged young people to take a stand against the Taliban -- and to not hide in their bedrooms.

Police arrested 200 suspects, but released all but 35. Those still in detention gave police information that led to the arrest of three more suspects, said Ghulam Muhammad, a local government official.

Bajwa refused to comment on the reports of the arrests, saying it was "not appropriate" to disclose details until the investigation was complete.

He did, however, point blame.

"There is no doubt in anyone's mind this is Taliban," he said.

Opinion: Girl's courage, Taliban's cowardice

The Taliban, indeed, claimed responsibility for the shooting attack, saying they figured shooting the girl would have an impact in the West. The Taliban believe no girl should be educated, and they've threatened that if Malala survives, they will murder her.

"We do not tolerate people like Malala speaking against us," Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said.

Malala's family, meanwhile, waits, and hopes, yet they are afraid to give away where they are exactly. They're terrified that the Taliban who would gun down a teenager wouldn't hesitate to come after them.

In the wake of the shooting, the teenager has come to symbolize a battle between freedom and oppression, violence and peace, a young generation and a group that is hell-bent on keeping Pakistan under the grip of Islamic extremism.

On her blog, Malala often wrote about her life in Swat Valley, a hotbed of militant activity.

The valley near the Afghanistan border once attracted tourists to Pakistan's only ski resort, as well as visitors to the ancient Buddhist ruins in the area. But that was before militants -- their faces covered -- unleashed a wave of violence in 2003.

They demanded veils for women, beards for men and a ban on music and television. They allowed boys' schools to operate but closed those for girls.

But young Malala defied the Taliban edict, demanding an education.

For that, she got a bullet to the head -- and the attention of much of the world.

New hope in wounded Pakistani teen activist's struggle to survive

CNN's Jessica King, Caroline Faraj and journalists Nasir Habib, Aamir Iqbal and Noreen Shams contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1526 GMT (2326 HKT)
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0009 GMT (0809 HKT)
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1801 GMT (0201 HKT)
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1548 GMT (2348 HKT)
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0507 GMT (1307 HKT)
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
February 5, 2013 -- Updated 1215 GMT (2015 HKT)
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 0006 GMT (0806 HKT)
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
February 6, 2013 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
February 8, 2013 -- Updated 0718 GMT (1518 HKT)
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT