In the hours following Doctor Reynolds and Doctor Kayani’s visit, Colonel Junaid refuses to make any of the changes they recommended. Partly as a result of his inaction, Malala’s condition deteriorates. She develops a condition called DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation), which results in her blood not circulating properly, endangering her life. Her kidneys are beginning to fail. Dr. Fiona Reynolds volunteers to remain behind to ensure that Malala receives the best treatment. Reynolds strongly urges that Malala be moved to a superior army hospital in Rawalpindi. Ziauddin agrees to allow Malala to be moved, though he’s worried that she won’t be able to handle the necessary helicopter flight.
While none of the people mentioned in this section bring politics into the conversation—they’re only talking about what would make the most medical sense for Malala—we can sense that politics is always looming overhead. Taking Malala out of the country would mean taking her out of the hands of Pakistani politicians, and placing her among Westerners—in other words, in the care of people whom the people of Pakistan have learned to hate in recent years.
Malala is taken to Rawalpindi by helicopter. She’s barely conscious. Ziauddin notes that the Taliban could be planning another attack on his daughter’s life—nevertheless, Malala is taken to the new hospital without any problems or delays. Soldiers guard the hospital at all hours of the day and night, making another Taliban attack impossible.
Malala continues to receive the best treatment possible in Pakistan, and this includes the best defense and surveillance. Even as she struggles to stay alive, Malala is still in danger from another Taliban attack, and so she requires armed guards at all times.
While Malala is placed in intensive care, Ziauddin worries about the danger to his sons, Khushal and Atal. Ziauddin has received threats to his sons from the Taliban before—threats that he’d dismissed as ludicrous at the time, but now takes very seriously. Meanwhile, politicians all over the world, including Barack Obama and Ban Ki-moon (the UN Secretary General), unite to condemn the Taliban’s attack on Malala. In Pakistan, however, many newspapers continue to condemn Malala. They call her an American puppet, and even say that she deserved to be shot.
It’s a mark of how much things have changed in only a few hours that Ziauddin now takes seriously the threats against his sons. Malala barely mentions her siblings in I Am Malala, but it’s entirely possible that the Taliban would try to hurt them as well in an attempt to intimidate Malala and Ziauddin into silence. This is a sign of the Taliban’s cowardice—they’d rather shoot children than reason and argue with their opponents.
As Malala proceeds with her recovery, Dr. Reynolds informs her mother that Malala may spend the rest of her life with a weak right arm and leg, as well as a speech impediment. If these things are to be avoided, she’ll need intensive physical therapy. She recommends to General Kayani that Malala be taken overseas—this is, without a doubt, the best way for Malala to get the best treatment, she insists. General Kayani is reluctant to send Malala to the United States, especially after the Raymond Davis crisis. Reynolds suggests that Malala be sent to Birmingham, England, the home of one of the world’s foremost hospitals for gunshot victims.
General Kayani is the first person to explicitly talk about politics in conjunction with Malala’s medical treatment, but he’s certainly not the first to think of it. Kayani is afraid that bringing Malala out of the country will discredit Pakistan. It’s a little sickening that so much time is being wasted discussing which hospital transfers will make Pakistan “look good,” but Malala (cynically but realistically) suggests that this is how international politics usually work. Things rarely get done because they are morally right—they have to be good for the country’s interests as well.
An intense, politicized conflict breaks out over the decision of where to move Malala. General Kayani refuses to let Malala’s movement to England be paid for by the Royal Air Force, or any other foreign military institution. In general, the Pakistani government is highly reluctant to accept help from Western powers, particularly America and the UK, since they want to “save face.” As the days drag on, Ziauddin and Tor Pekai have no idea that these arguments are occurring.
In addition to the time being wasted by General Kayani’s deliberations and political decision-making, information is also being denied to Malala’s parents. Ziauddin and Tor Pekai have an obvious right opt know how their daughter is doing and where she’s going to be taken, but General Kayani’s stalling ensures that they receive no such information.
After days of tense negotiations, the United Arab Emirates offer to fly Malala to the United Kingdom, using a civilian aircraft. General Kayani accepts this offer, since it will enable Malala to get the best care possible, and also won’t cause Pakistan to seem overly reliant on the Western world. Unfortunately, the U.A.E’s offer doesn’t extend to Malala’s family. Only Ziauddin is allowed to accompany Malala to England. Ziauddin refuses to abandon his wife and sons, particularly at a time when they’re in danger of Taliban attacks. While Dr. Kayani urges Ziauddin to travel to England with Malala, Ziauddin staunchly refuses. As a result, Dr. Reynolds is appointed Malala’s temporary guardian in England.
In the end, General Kayani allows Malala to be taken out of Pakistan. He doesn’t completely discount Malala’s well-being (he doesn’t want her dead, in other words), but he also has “higher” priorities than keeping her alive. It’s painful that Malala can’t be transported to Birmingham, England alongside her family, but the fact remains that this represents the best medical treatment available to her. In this uneasy interim period, Malala is given a new guardian—a Westerner.
Furious and greatly saddened that he’s not accompanying Malala to England, Ziauddin remains behind with his family. He approaches General Kayani about traveling to England to visit Malala. General Kayani tells him that this is possible—though he and his family will need to fill out many documents to obtain the necessary travel papers. Ziauddin submits the proper forms, assuming that he’ll have a visa momentarily. But as the days drag on, it seems less and less likely that he and his family will be given visas to travel to England.
Once again, political maneuvering ensures that Ziauddin and Tor Pekai are kept in the dark for as long as possible. Although a mother and father have an obvious right to know if their child is alive or dead, and to visit this child in the hospital, General Kayani violates this right, putting his own political aims first. It’s rather impressive that Malala is willing to point this out in her memoir: she doesn’t shy away from criticizing governments, even her own.