Oct. 15, 2012— -- Malala Yousufzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani girl who was targeted and nearly killed by the Taliban for supporting education for girls, has been flown to a hospital in Birmingham, England for medical treatment. She arrived this afternoon.
Malala, whose shooting triggered an unprecedented wave of condemnation of the Taliban, was transported in an air ambulance donated by the United Arab Emirates to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, which has treated every British military casualty since 2001.
"In a way she's a battle victim," said a hospital spokesman. Malala could be seen by 17 different specialists in her first 24 hours there, the spokesman said.
She was shot in the head and neck, and the hospital said she would undergo MRIs, CT scans and other procedures necessary before doctors can begin to try to reconstruct her skull.
The hospital spokesman said there was a chance for her to make a good recovery; otherwise, she would not have been put on the plane. Her medical expenses are being handled by the Pakistani government.
"Last week's barbaric attack on Malala Yousufzai and her school friends shocked Pakistan and the world," a statement from British foreign secretary William Hague said.
"The public revulsion and condemnation of this cowardly attack shows that the people of Pakistan will not be beaten by terrorists. The U.K. stands shoulder to shoulder with Pakistan in its fight against terrorism."
Former British Prime Minister and U.N. Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown said in a statement today that he is launching a worldwide petition in support of Yousufzai and every child in Pakistan to receive an education.
"Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban simply because as a girl she wanted to go to school. The petition calls on Pakistan to ensure that every girl like Malala has the chance to go to school and calls on the international community to ensure that all out-of-school children around the world are in education by the deadline for the delivery of the Millennium Development Goals, the end of 2015," Brown said in a statement.
Brown said he plans on delivering the petition to Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari when he visits him next month.
Malala was shot nearly a week ago while on her way home from school in Mingora, a village in the Swat Valley, home to a surge of extremists in 2009 who tried to establish Sharia law before a government offensive rooted them out. The assailant reportedly approached her school bus and asked those on board to identify the young girl. He then shot her and two classmates before fleeing.
Since the shooting, the young girl has been kept under medical sedation and has required a ventilator to breathe. Doctors reportedly removed her briefly from the ventilator late Sunday night, after she showed a positive response to treatment. Sometime afterward, her medical team made the decision to fly her abroad.
"It was agreed by the panel of Pakistani doctors and international experts that Malala will require prolonged care to fully recover from the physical and psychological effects of trauma that she has received," the Pakistani military statement said.
Malala, whose father ran a school for years in Mingora, had been facing Taliban threats for years. In 2009, when Taliban militants forced the school to close, she blogged her experiences for BBC Urdu under a pseudonym, shedding light on what it was like for young girls to live under Taliban rule. When the school reopened, Malala continued to speak out, appearing on talk shows and making public appearances demanding that girls in Pakistan have the right to an education.
Her shooting launched an unprecedented outcry, cross-cutting through Pakistan's complex religious and political lines. Political leaders from all parties, even those with historical ties to the Taliban, have condemned the attack. Pakistan's normally reclusive army chief and the country's prime minister made personal visits to see her in the hospital.
"It's united the entire nation," said Farzani Bari, a women's rights activist.
"Everybody feels the same way. If you can't protect your own children, then what kind of future is there for this country?
Initially, Pakistanis began protesting the attack in small numbers, with sporadic rallies and candlelit vigils attended, in some cases, by just dozens of well-wishers. As news of the attack on her spread, and politicians began making more forceful condemnations, the numbers quickly swelled.
Tens of thousands took to the streets Sunday in a political rally in Karachi, Pakistan's largest city. Young children carried placards with Malala's picture, and Altaf Hussain, the leader of Pakistan's Muttahida Qaumi Movement, a key political party in Karachi, referred to her as "the daughter of the nation."
Even Afghan President Hamid Karzai has sent his condolences, writing a public letter to Pakistani political leaders, asking them to do more to rein in terrorists who operate along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border.