Islamabad: Pakistani doctors Wednesday removed a bullet lodged near the spine of a 14-year-old girl shot by the Taliban, a horrific attack that drew grief and revulsion from across the nation and prompted the Army chief to highlight the need to fight the propagators of "such barbaric mindset".
A team led by Mumtaz Khan, head of the neurosurgery department of Peshawar`s Lady Reading Hospital, carried out a three-hour operation at a military hospital between 2 am and 5 am to remove the bullet from Malala Yousufzai, who was attacked by the Taliban yesterday for speaking out against the atrocities of militants.
The doctors also took steps to reduce the swelling in Malala`s head. Though the bullet was removed, there was "excessive bleeding" during the surgery and Malala was not fully stable as yet, officials said.
Malala`s uncle Ahmed Shah told the media in Peshawar that the doctors had advised against sending Malala, the first recipient of Pakistan`s National Peace Award for Youth, outside the country for treatment.
Doctors said it would not be advisable for her to travel in her condition. The next ten days would be crucial for her, Shah quoted the doctors as saying.
Malala is currently in the intensive care unit of the military hospital in Peshawar.
People across Pakistan reacted with grief and revulsion to the attempt by the Taliban to assassinate Malala, with Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar saying that the incident should serve as a "wake up call" for the country.
Powerful Army Chief Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who visited the schoolgirl in the hospital, said Malala has "become a symbol for the values that the army, with the nation behind it, is fighting to preserve for our future generations.
"These are the intrinsic values of an Islamic society, based on the principles of liberty, justice and equality of man."
Kayani used the occasion to send out a message to the militants, saying incidents like the attack on Malala "clearly expose the extremist mindset the nation is facing."
He said the terrorists had underestimated the "resolve and resilience" of the people.
"It is time we further unite and stand up to fight the propagators of such barbaric mindset and their sympathisers," Kayani said.
In Islamabad, the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament suspended its usual business to discuss the brazen attack on the teenager.
Amidst emotional scenes during a debate, Foreign Minister Khar described the attack as a "wake-up call" for Pakistan.
"This is a wake-up call for the nation. It demands from us to stand united against the curse of terrorism," Khar said.
The incident symbolised the "clash of two mindsets; the one striving for peace, development, education and peaceful co-existence, and the other desiring to keep the nation in the dark and in the cruel clutches of ignorance and barbarianism," she added.
Khar criticised those trying to justify the attack on Malala and called on people to discourage such forces.
Across the country, children and ordinary people held special prayers for Malala`s recovery.
In Karachi, students of a government-run school named after Malala expressed shock at the attempt of her life but said they would double their efforts to achieve the goals set by Malala, including education for all girls.
In Swat, where the army conducted a massive operation in 2009 to flush out the Taliban, all private educational institutions were closed to protest the attack.
A steady stream of people made their way to Malala`s home in Mingora, the main town in Swat, to offer their support to her parents and relatives.