Islamabad: Special prayers and vigils were held at mosques and educational institutions across Pakistan on Friday for the recovery of teenage rights activist Malala Yousufzai, who was shot in the head during an assassination attempt by the Taliban.
The attack on the 14-year-old who led a campaign for the education of girls has triggered anger and revulsion across Pakistan, and even some right wing politicians perceived as being soft on the Taliban have said that the incident went against Islamic ideals.
Students prayed for Malala`s recovery during the morning assembly at schools and educational institutions.
The governments of Punjab and Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa provinces urged people to observe the day as "Youm-e-Dua" (day of prayer).
Special prayers were also offered after the Friday `namaz` at mosques across the country and clerics condemned the attack on the teenager, who is on ventilator in an intensive care unit in a military hospital in Rawalpindi.
Malala was airlifted from Peshawar to Rawalpindi yesterday after doctors removed a bullet that was lodged near her spine.
She is yet to regain consciousness following a three-hour surgery on Wednesday.
A military spokesman said the next 36 to 48 hours would be critical for her recovery.
Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf went to see Malala in hospital with several federal ministers and leaders of key political parties, saying the joint visit was intended to send a message to terrorists that the "Pakistani people are united against their mindset".
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`s 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."
President Asif Ali Zardari telephoned Malala`s father Ziauddin Yousufzai, who too has been threatened by the Taliban, and said the militants had shown "their real face to the world".
The militants will never succeed in shaking the resolve of the people and the Government and this incident has "further rejuvenated our spirits to face the menace of militancy head on", Zardari said.
In Malala`s hometown of Mingora, the Khushal Public
School run by her father reopened today though the attendance was low.
The government deployed a contingent of policemen to guard the school as students offered prayers for Malala.
Prayers were held at educational institutions and offices across the northwestern Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province and people observed a minute`s silence at noon to express solidarity with Malala.
Provincial Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain, whose only son was killed by the Taliban, said the sacrifice made by Malala and others should be turned into a movement against terrorism.
"Whether it is Waziristan or any other part of Pakistan, terrorists should be finished. Action should be taken against them without any discrimination," Hussain said.
Special prayers and vigils were also organised in Lahore, where Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif joined the prayers, Multan, Quetta and Karachi.
Christians held a special mass at a Catholic Church in Islamabad and hailed Malala as a champion of education for all.
The shooting on Malala, who came to prominence with a blog for the BBC that highlighted atrocities when the Taliban controlled the Swat Valley from 2007 to 2009, has been condemned worldwide and the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government has offered a reward of Rs 1 crore for the capture of her attackers.