Islamabad: The brutal attack by militants on teenage rights activist Malala Yusufzai has made it clear that the time has come for people to stand together to uproot terrorism from Pakistan, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf said on Friday.
"We have to unite and stand together to uproot this menace from our beloved motherland and save our children," Ashraf told reporters after visiting a military hospital in Rawalpindi to enquire about the health of 14-year-old Malala.
Pakistan, he remarked, had paid a heavy price in men and materials in the campaign and terrorism "but now the nation is united".
He said: "Malala is Pakistan`s daughter and its actual face. Her message is the message of the people, which is a message of love, security and peace. The whole country will stand against anyone who tries to sabotage this message".
Ashraf was flanked by leaders of the Awami National Party, Muttahida Qaumi Movement and Jamaat-e-Islami who accompanied him to the hospital.
The premier said he had invited leaders of other parties to join him in visiting Malala "to send out a message to terrorists that the Pakistani people are united against their mindset".
He said political leaders and ordinary people across the country were praying for Malala`s recovery.
Ashraf had decided to ask the country`s political leadership to join him to visit Malala during a cabinet meeting yesterday.
However, leaders of the main opposition PML-N were conspicuous by their absence.
Malala continues to be on ventilator in a critical care unit of the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology in Rawalpindi, where she was brought from the northwestern city of Peshawar yesterday so that she could be provided better care.
A military spokesman said this morning that Malala`s condition was satisfactory though the next 36 to 48 hours would be critical for her recovery.
The teenager and two schoolmates were shot by militants on Tuesday in Swat, a former Taliban stronghold located 160 km from Islamabad.
The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack, saying she was targeted for promoting Western ideals and a secular government.
Referring to the spontaneous outpouring of grief and anger at the attack, Ashraf said the way the whole country "has risen and joined hands" showed that they considered the militants "the enemies of our children".
The attack on Malala was not a crime against an individual but a crime against humanity and an attack on the people’s core moral and social values, he said.
"The extremists attacked Malala for what she stands for because they were scared of the power of her vision," he added.
Earlier in the day, the premier condemned the attack on Malala while addressing a conference on child rights.
"We believe that the attack on Malala Yousufzai and other girls is not an attack on an individual but an attempt to stifle our way of life. We would not be deterred by such acts.
"The nation has the will and determination to protect its values, principles and the future of its children," he said.
The "nefarious act" had also exposed the "hollowness of the extremists and the level they have stooped to", he said.
Pakistan faces a threat from a "bigoted and radicalised mindset" that wants to rob the people of peace, pluralism, moderation and tolerance, he added.
Powerful army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani too has condemned the attack on Malala and said the time had come had come for people to "fight the propagators of such barbaric mindset".
The top military leadership said after a meeting yesterday that the armed forces were fully prepared to take on "upcoming challenges" faced by Pakistan, triggering speculation that the army could be preparing for a crackdown on militants in the wake of the attack on Malala.