Islamabad: A day after a teenage rights activist was shot in the head by Taliban militants, Pakistan Army Chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani today condemned the attack on the girl as a "heinous act of terrorism" and warned that it had exposed the "extremist mindset" confronting the country.
Kayani visited a military hospital in Peshawar to meet 14-year-old schoolgirl Malala Yousufzai, who was shot and seriously injured by the militants during an attack yesterday in the former Taliban stronghold of Swat, located 160 km from Islamabad.
The powerful army chief 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."
Kayani 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," he said.
"We wish to bring home a simple message: we refuse to bow before terror. We will fight, regardless of the cost, we will prevail Insha Allah," Kayani was quoted as saying in a statement issued by the military.
However, the Army Chief did not directly refer in his remarks to the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has claimed responsibility for the attack on Malala.
Condemning the attack as a "heinous act of terrorism," Kayani said the "cowards who attacked Malala and her fellow students have shown time and again how little regard they have for human life and how low they can fall in their cruel ambition to impose their twisted ideology."