Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban last year, has been temporarily discharged from a British hospital.
According to the hospital, Yousafzai will spend the next few weeks rehabilitating at her parent’s temporary house elsewhere in England. In the meantime, she will be treated by the hospital as an outpatient. She is scheduled to undergo reconstructive surgery in the coming weeks.
Pakistan's ambassador to Britain, Wajid Shamsul Hassan, says British authorities are looking after Yousafzai’s security and her whereabouts will not be made public.
"She has been shifted somewhere nearby, from where she will be visiting the hospital for physiotherapy regularly and she will be re-admitted for her reconstructive surgery later on this month," he said.
Fifteen-year-old Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman last October. The bullet, which grazed her brain, was removed at a hospital in Pakistan before she was flown to Britain for specialist treatment.
Burzine Waghmar, of London’s School of Oriental and African Studies, said it is likely that Yousafzai will remain in Britain for the foreseeable future. Her father was recently appointed education attaché at the Consulate of Pakistan in Birmingham.
“I think it is a very pragmatic move on the part of the Pakistani government to have come to this sort of arrangement, which I think is the best of the worst, and that has become acceptable to the Pakistanis and also London as well,” said Waghmar.
October 9, 2012: Shot in the head by Taliban while returning home from school in Pakistan's Swat Valley
October 10, 2012: Swat Valley schools close to protest the attack; the bullet is removed from near Yousafzai's spinal cord
October 11-14, 2012: Rallies are held around Pakistan to protest the shooting
October 15, 2012: Yousafzai is flown to Birmingham, England for treatment
December 8, 2012: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari meets Yousafzai at the hospital.
January 4, 2013: Yousafzai is discharged from hospital.
Yousafzai is well-known internationally for campaigning for girls’ education in Pakistan. When she was 11 years old she wrote a blog for the BBC’s Urdu service recounting her life in Pakistan's northwestern Swat Valley, which was then controlled by the Taliban.
Yousafzai would still be a target if she returned to Pakistan, Waghmar said.
“Even if the federal authorities were to rehabilitate [relocate] her and her family elsewhere under protection, it would be of no good. Because those extremist elements - make no mistake - would be able to locate her anywhere else in Pakistan, too. And they would be sure that this time they would not fail upon pulling the trigger.”
Waghmar said he fears Yousafzai’s shooting will have done little to improve women’s rights in Pakistan. He compares it to the recent rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in India. The gang rap has led to widespread protests and demands for tougher laws for sexual assault.
“You can see the outpouring in India on a national basis in terms of outrage, which goes to show there is a stronger civil society and elements within that, which are patently lacking in Pakistan,” he said.
Yousafzai's next surgery will repair damage done to her skull by the shooting.