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Pakistan: Teenager shot by Taliban still on ventilator

October 13, 2012 19:51 IST

Pakistan's teenage rights activist Malala Yousufzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban, was still on ventilator at a top army hospital, though her condition was satisfactory and her vital organs were "intact and working properly", the military said on Saturday.

The condition of 14-year-old Malala, who is in the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi, continues to be satisfactory, a military spokesman said.

"She is still on ventilator in the intensive care unit but her vital organs are intact and working properly," he said. A board of doctors is continuously monitoring her condition.

A special medical team, comprising specialists from abroad and civilian hospitals and senior doctors of the Pakistan Army, is also keeping a vigil on Malala's health round the clock, the spokesman said.

Malala, who along with two of her school friends was attacked by militants on Tuesday in Mingora -- the main town in the former Taliban stronghold of Swat, was airlifted from a military hospital in Peshawar to Rawalpindi for better care on Thursday after doctors removed a bullet lodged near her spine.

Geo News channel quoted its sources as saying that the swelling in Malala's head had subsided and that she had responded to painful stimulus.

However, her ability to move her limbs continued to be limited though this could be a side-effect of medication, the sources were quoted as saying.

People across Pakistan, especially school children, continued to offer special prayers for Malala's recovery.

Protests were also organised in several towns and cities.

In the northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, lawyers boycotted all courts to protest the attack on Malala. The protest was organised by the provincial bar council.

A similar protest was organised by lawyers' organisations in Lahore, the capital of the most populous Punjab province. Lawyers hoisted black flags at court complexes and wore black bands to condemn the attack.

In Karachi, Sindh Education Minister Pir Mazhar-ul-Haq said a school named after Malala would be upgraded to higher secondary level to honour the teenager's dream of education for all girls. He made the announcement when he joined students at the school to pray for Malala.

Hundreds of students joined a protest organised by the Balochistan Private School Foundation outside the Quetta Press Club on Saturday morning and condemned the attack on Malala and her schoolmates. The students carried posters of Malala and banners inscribed with slogans denouncing the attack.

Teachers, who addressed the gathering, said the attack was against the teachings of Islam.

In a related development, President Asif Ali Zardari directed authorities to provide free medical care to Shazia Ramzan and Kainat Ahmed, the two other girls injured in the attack on Malala.

Presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said Zardari enquired about the health of the two girls, who were travelling with Malala in a school van when it was attacked by militants.

Zardari said the girls "represent the true face of Pakistan; they are a national asset and have raised collective national consciousness against the barbarism of militants and extremists."

Reports from Peshawar said Shazia's condition had improved significantly though she continued to be in a military hospital.

Kainat, who is at home recovering from a bullet wound, told reporters that she will continue her education and fulfill her parents' dream of becoming a doctor.

Rezaul H Laskar
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