India lost chance to welcome Malala

  • Smruti Koppikar, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • |
  • Updated: Oct 31, 2012 12:04 IST
  • Women hold lighted candles during a rally condemning the attack on schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai. Reuters

  • Praying for Malala

    Pakistani girls display a poster while sitting at their desk, as their teacher, not shown, talks to them about 14-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, who was ...

  • Praying for Malala

    Pakistani women shower rose petals on a photograph of child activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head in a Taliban assassination attempt, as ...

  • Praying for Malala

    Pakistani school girls pray for the early recovery of child activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head in a Taliban assassination attempt, at ...

  • Praying for Malala

    Pakistani students pray for the early recovery of child activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head in a Taliban assassination attempt, in Peshawar. ...

  • Praying for Malala

    Pakistani Muslims pray for the early recovery of child activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head in a Taliban assassination attempt in Quetta. ...

  • Praying for Malala

    Malala Yousufzai, a Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out against the militants and promoting education for girls, is seen in ...

  • Praying for Malala

    Pakistani children place oil lamps next to a photograph of child activist Malala Yousafzai, who was shot in the head in a Taliban assassination attempt, ...

  • Praying for Malala

    A Pakistani woman holds a poster of 14-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out in support of education for ...

  • Praying for Malala

    Children light oil lamps beside a picture of Malala Yousufzai, who was shot by the Taliban for speaking out against the militants and promoting education ...

India had the opportunity to treat Pakistani teenager and anti-Taliban rights activist Malala Yousafzai, but lost the chance.

Fifteen-year-old Malala, who has become a symbol of girls' rights worldwide, was shot by Taliban attackers on October 9.

Civil society groups in India and Pakistan, backed by some Awami National Party legislators in Pakistan, approached the Indian establishment to have Malala flown to a super-specialty private hospital in Mumbai for treatment, highly placed sources said.

Bat, according to sources, officials in the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) hesitated on two counts: Malala did not possess valid travel documents, which could have easily been addressed, and such a move might seem like a ploy on India's part to score a brownie point on the back of a human tragedy.

When contacted, a PMO official said "there were indeed informal talks on the issue, but there was no formal proposal from any individual or group" to allow Malala to travel to Mumbai for treatment. Asked if India could have made the offer, he declined to comment.

A file photo of Malala Yousufzai being moved to a helicopter to be taken to Peshawar in Mingora, Pakistan. AP Photo

Indian mediators were asked by the PMO to urge the Pakistani civil society groups and/or the Awami National Party to "make a request to India", sources told HT.

The process should begin from Pakistan, the mediators were told.

But by this time, Malala received preliminary treatment in a Peshawar hospital, where surgeons had managed to remove the bullet that had hit her skull.

She was then shifted to a military hospital and, significantly, a military statement reproduced by the BBC said that Malala be "shifted abroad to a UK centre, which has the capability to provide integrated care to children who have sustained severe injury".

The air ambulance was arranged by the United Arab Emirates and she was flown to London.

A file photo shows a young girl holding Malala Yousufzai's picture.

Sources said key doctors in a super-specialty hospital had been spoken to and had shown willingness to take up Malala's case after addressing security considerations.

"Had India made the offer to treat her, it would have resonated throughout the world and helped build trust on both sides. We should have shed the timidity," said Mahesh Bhatt, filmmaker and a campaigner for people-to-people connect between India and Pakistan.

The Taliban has threatened to attack Malala again. Two other girls, who were in the school bus with her, were also injured in the October 9 attack.

 

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