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Pakistani girl shot by Taliban won’t back down

Teen renews plea for education for girls

Malala Yousufzai appeared with Dr. Mav Manji in a video Monday in England. She has been accused by the Taliban of promoting “Western thinking.”

University Hospitals Birmingham via AFP/Getty Images

Malala Yousufzai appeared with Dr. Mav Manji in a video Monday in England. She has been accused by the Taliban of promoting “Western thinking.”

LONDON — In her first video statement since she was nearly killed, a Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban remained defiant in arguing for the education of girls, saying she would keep up the campaign that led to the attack on her.

Speaking clearly on Monday, but with the left side of her face appearing rigid, 15-year-old Malala Yousufzai said she is ‘‘getting better, day by day’’ after undergoing weeks of treatment at a British hospital.

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‘‘I want to serve. I want to serve the people. I want every girl, every child, to be educated. For that reason, we have organized the Malala Fund,’’ she said in the video, made available by a public relations firm.

Malala drew the world’s attention when she was shot in the head by Taliban militants on Oct. 9 while on her way home from school in northwestern Pakistan. The Islamist group said it targeted her because she had promoted girls’ education and ‘‘Western thinking’’ and had criticized the militant group’s behavior when it took over the scenic Swat Valley where she lived.

The shooting sparked outrage in Pakistan and many other countries, and her story has captured global attention for the struggle for women’s rights in her homeland.

In a sign of her impact, the teen made the short list for Time magazine’s ‘‘Person of the Year’’ for 2012.

‘‘Today you can see that I am alive. I can speak, I can see you, I can see everyone,’’ said Malala. ‘‘It’s just because of the prayers of people. Because all people — men, women, children — all of them have prayed for me. And because of all these prayers God has given me this new life, a second life.’’

‘I want every girl, every child, to be educated.’

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Malala was airlifted to Britain from Pakistan in October to receive specialized medical care and protection against further Taliban threats. She is expected to remain in the United Kingdom for some time as her father, Ziauddin, has secured a post with the Pakistani consulate in the English city of Birmingham.

Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital, which has been treating the teen, said it successfully operated to reconstruct her skull. Doctors said Malala also had a cochlear implant to restore the hearing in her left ear, which became deaf as a result of the shooting.

Both of those operations were completed Saturday. The public relations firm Edelman said Malala’s video statement was shot earlier, on Jan. 22.

Dr. Anwen White, a neurosurgeon who led the operations, said the teen did not suffer any long-lasting cognitive damage. She does not require further operations and can probably return to school soon, White said.

The Malala Fund is a girls’ education charity set up in late 2012. It was launched with a $10 million donation from Pakistan.

Pakistan’s interior minister, Rehman Malik, said Monday that the government is ready to hold peace talks with domestic Taliban militants who have been waging a bloody insurgency that has killed thousands of people in the country.

Malik’s comments were the latest sign of growing momentum for talks and followed statements by senior Pakistani Taliban leaders, who also indicate they are ready to sit down at the negotiating table.

The government appeared to have dropped an earlier demand that the Taliban lay down their weapons and renounce violence prior to the talks, a position rejected by the militants.

Ruling party lawmakers say one key issue driving the government toward talks — which have the blessing of the country’s powerful military — is concern about violence in advance of parliamentary elections expected this spring.

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