By Rob Crilly
The father of Malala Yousafzai, the teenage activist who survived being shot in the head by the Pakistani Taliban, has spoken for the first time about his daughter’s “miraculous” recovery
Ziauddin Yousafzai and his wife were on their way to Birmingham on Thursday, 10 days after 15-year-old Malala was flown to the city’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital for expert care.
Before boarding the flight, Mr. Yousafzai said he was grateful for the world’s tributes and prayers but now he just wanted to concentrate on helping his daughter recover.
“I have seen doomsday and survived, you might say. Malala has been honoured by the nation by the world, by people of all classes of all creeds of all colors. I am grateful for that,” he told The Daily Telegraph by telephone from a secure, secret location.
“But I am a father. I respect all those feelings but the only priority now is the life of my daughter and her total rehabilitation.
“I don’t need any awards or political bull—I need my daughter.”
The story of Malala has captured the world’s attention since she was shot two and a half weeks ago. Her courage in standing up to Pakistan’s Islamic extremists has offered a rare beacon of hope in a country blighted by violence and political inaction.
A gunman flagged down her school bus in the town of Mingora, Swat, and asked for her by name before shooting the teenage girl in the head. Two school friends were also wounded.
The Pakistan Taliban, which controlled Swat until 2009, claimed responsibility.
During that time, Malala had written an anonymous diary for the BBC detailing Taliban abuses and continued to campaign for girls education.
Her family were threatened repeatedly by extremists for promoting “Western” and “secular” values.
Surgeons in Pakistan fought for days to save her life, removing a bullet from her neck.
Mr. Yousafzai said he was grateful for all their efforts. “The way they saved my daughter was miraculous,” he said.
He added that he had stayed in daily contact with medical staff in Birmingham but had not yet been able to speak to his daughter.
“She is all right. She is improving day by day, inshallah (god willing),” he said. “It has been difficult not being with her but at least we knew she was getting better.” The problem, he said, was that his wife’s Pakistani documents were not up to date so they had to wait for the government to issue new ones.
He also said that the Pakistan Taliban would not silence his family’s campaign to ensure that more girls were able to go to school.