LONDON — A Pakistani girl whose defiance of the Taliban turned her into an international icon is headed toward recovery once she undergoes a final surgery to reconstruct her skull, doctors said Wednesday.
Dave Rosser of Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital said Malala Yousufzai, 15, needs the operation to replace the bone shattered when a Taliban gunman, angered at her objection to the group’s restrictions on girls’ education, fired a bullet through her skull. Rosser said that Malala had made a ‘‘remarkable recovery.’’
‘‘She’s very lively, she’s got a great sense of humor,’’ Rosser said . ‘‘She’s not naive at all about what happened to her and the situation she’s looking forward to in terms of being a high-profile person, and potentially a high-profile target. She’s not naive to any of that, but she remains incredibly determined, incredibly cheerful, and incredibly determined to speak for her cause.’’
That cause has turned Malala into a symbol for a girl’s right to an education.
At the age of 11, she began writing a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC about life under the Taliban in Pakistan’s Swat Valley, which Taliban militants overran. After the military ousted them in 2009, she began publicly speaking about the need for girls’ education. She was given one of the country’s highest civilian honors for her bravery.
Malala was shot on Oct. 9 as she headed home from school. The Taliban said they targeted her because she promoted ‘‘Western thinking,’’ but the attempt to murder a teenage girl over her desire to go to school sent a wave of revulsion around the world. She was flown to England for medical care — and for her own protection.