| Students pray for the speedy recovery of Malala Yousafzai in Mingora on Thursday. (AFP)
Islamabad, Oct. 11: Schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, still critical after being shot in the head by the Taliban, was today airlifted to Pakistan’s top army hospital in Rawalpindi for better post-surgical care as special prayers were offered across the nation for her quick recovery.
Yousafzai, 14, was flown in a helicopter from a military hospital in Peshawar to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in the garrison city of Rawalpindi.
Yesterday, a bullet that was lodged near her spine was removed by doctors during a three-hour surgery in the intensive care unit of the Peshawar hospital.
Chief military spokesman Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa said doctors recommended that the institute had better facilities for post-surgical care.
Army neurosurgeon Col Junaid Khan, who was part of the team of doctors that treated Yousafzai in Peshawar, told reporters that the next 10 to 15 days were “very crucial” for her recovery.
Footage on television showed army personnel transferring Yousafzai on a stretcher from the helicopter to an ambulance. Her head was bandaged and she was on a life support system.
The ambulance was escorted by army vehicles as it drove from the helipad in Rawalpindi to the nearby hospital.
Additional soldiers were deployed at the institute and all visitors were screened before being allowed into the building. TV news channels said the army had sealed off an entire floor at the hospital as part of its special security measures.
A team of doctors treating Yousafzai decided that she should be shifted to Rawalpindi after she failed to regain consciousness following the surgery. Doctors have said she is improving though her condition continues to be serious.
Masood Kausar, governor of the northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, said: “Yousafzai is not yet out of danger despite an improvement in her condition.”
The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has announced a reward of Rs 1 crore for information leading to the arrest of Yousafzai’s attackers.
People from all walks of life held demonstrations and candlelight vigils in Lahore and other cities of Punjab province to condemn the Taliban’s cowardly act of attacking Yousafzai.