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Doctors: Pakistani Girl Shot by Taliban Is Able to Stand

Selah Hennessy
Doctors in Britain said Friday the teenage Pakistani girl who was shot last week by Taliban gunmen is able to stand with help and write. The Pakistani community is rallying around Malala Yousafzai's recovery at a hospital in the British city of Birmingham.

Dave Rosser is one of the doctors responsible for Yousafzai's treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

"In terms of her injury she was struck just above the back of the left eye and the bullet went down through the side of her jaw, damaging the skull, the jaw joint on the left hand side. It went through the neck and lodged in the tissues above the shoulder blade on the left," he said.

Rosser said she is now doing well and, with assistance, has been able to stand up. He said she's also communicating freely. She has a tracheotomy tube in her neck, because the passing of the bullet swelled her airway - but, he said, she has been able to write her thoughts down.

"In terms of further care, we - the specialist team looking after her - are taking a view that she's going to need a couple of weeks to rehabilitate, make sure this infection has cleared up," said Rosser. "And, again, to use the phrase that if she is 'out of the woods,' then her skull will need reconstructing either by reinserting the piece of the bone that was removed initially or with a titanium plate."

The city is Britain's second-largest, where one-tenth of the population - that's 100,000 people - are Pakistani.

Some of Birmingham's neighborhoods reflect the dominant South Asian population in the stores that line the streets, reminding many of their home country.

Yasmin has owned this women's clothes store for the past two years. She, like many others in the Pakistani community here, are rallying around Yousafzai.

"Every child, every adult, every old person - they are all looking after her and praying for her, and I must say it probably will get her to some place where she wants to be," said Yasmin.

Many Pakistanis here say they believe the teenager is getting good treatment in Britain. But at this restaurant there were mixed feelings about what Yousafzai should do once she recovers.

"She is going to be so much safer here in the UK. If they take her back to Pakistan, she's not going to be safe there no chance," said one man on the street.

"May Allah give her a good strong health. Then she can go back and serve her community," said another man. "Then maybe in the future she will become a big politician and do good for the women's community."

Pakistani Taliban gunman shot Yousafzai on October 9, saying she promoted secularism and spoke out against the militant group.

There has been a large public outcry both inside and outside of Pakistan.

In Islamabad and other Pakistani cities, tens of thousands have rallied to protest the shooting. The Pakistani political party MQM helped organize some of the demonstrations.

Party spokesperson Mohammad Wasay Jalilsaid that for now, Yousafzai can make the most of her time in Britain.   

"I think she will be able to communicate what happened to her. And I think she will be able to communicate more easily here about her dream - what she can do, what she was thinking for Pakistan. She wants to see Pakistan as a liberal country, as an educated country," he said.

But with doctors in Britain saying Yousafzai is not yet "out of the woods," for now all hopes are still on her recovery.

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