ISLAMABAD The Pakistani schoolgirl whom al-Qaida-linked militants shot last year for campaigning for girls education said Monday that she was prepared to risk her life again for the cause.
In her first interview since a Pakistani Taliban gunman shot her in the head last October, Malala Yousafzai, 15, told Pakistan's Geo News channel from Great Britain that she'd recovered her eyesight and was able to talk and walk again. Attributing her improvement entirely to the prayers of well-wishers, she said she was getting better "day by day."
The interview was the talk of Pakistan, and the video was repeated over and over in Urdu, Pashto and English, Pakistan's official languages. It was supplemented with interviews with two other girls who were injured in the attack.
The shock that the Pakistani Taliban would target a teenage girl as she sat in a van waiting to go home after school had caused an outpouring of sympathy across the country and helped cement public opinion against the Taliban, even among those who for years had excused their behavior by saying they were fighting America or reacting to U.S. drone attacks.
Indeed, the Taliban turned to threatening Pakistani media personalities because of their sympathetic reporting of Malala's story. Hamid Mir, the country's best-known news anchor, narrowly escaped a car bomb.
Malala's face showed the scars of the reconstructive surgery she underwent in Britain, where she was flown for treatment after the Oct. 9 shooting. She's been through months of rehabilitation at a hospital in the city of Birmingham specializing in war injuries.
Only on Saturday, Malala had undergone further surgery, a five-hour operation to mend part of her skull and help restore lost hearing. Doctors have been impressed by her spirit.
"I am ready to sacrifice myself, again. I want every girl, every child, to be educated. And that in our whole country for there to be peace. And for peace, I will sacrifice myself," Malala said, speaking in Urdu, in Pashto, the language of the northwest, and in English.
Malala's father, Ziauddin Yousafzai, who's also in Great Britain, has said he's determined to take his family back to Swat. But the Taliban, who issued a detailed justification for the assault on the girl, have made clear they would attack her again.