President Hamid Karzai telephoned Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari Wednesday night to voice his condemnation of the Taliban shooting of Pakistani teenager Malala Yousufzai and assured Zardari of cooperation to end the insurgent threat.

Malala, 14, is in intensive care after she was shot in the head on a school bus on Tuesday in an assassination attempt that has drawn condemnation worldwide including from US President Barack Obama and UN chief Ban Ki-moon.

“The attack is one of those that, over the past many years, have continuously been directed against students, teachers and schools in Afghanistan. These barbaric attacks are, unfortunately, now on the rise in Pakistan,” Karzai told Zardari, according to a statement from the Presidential office.

Karzai labeled the attack “cowardly” for insurgents to target a young girl who had only been promoting peace, children’s rights and education.

He said that indifference to these threats will cost both nations dearly and pledged to support Pakistan’s efforts to combat militants and extremists.

Malala was shot outside her school in Mingora, the main town of the Swat valley in Pakistan’s northwest, where she had campaigned for the right to an education during a two-year Taliban insurgency.

She received international recognition for highlighting Taliban atrocities via a blog for the BBC when she was 11 years old, when the Islamist militants burned girls’ schools and terrorised the valley before the army intervened.

The provincial government has announced a 10 million rupee ($104,000) reward for information to capture Malala’s attackers.

The Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP) claimed responsibility for the shooting, and following the worldwide condemnation, released a statement saying that she was a legitimate target because she opposed Shariah law.

“It’s a clear command of Shariah that any female, that by any means plays a role in war against the Mujahideen, should be killed,” the TTP statement from spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said.

Ehsan told BBC Urdu that Malala was attacked because she was anti-Taliban and secular, and generated negative propaganda about Muslims, preaching secularism.

“She considers President Obama as her ideal leader. Malala Yousafzai is the symbol of the infidels and obscenity,” he said.

Mulitple media outlets reported that the TTP have vowed to kill Malala if she recovers from this attack, and that her family will also be targeted.

As at Thursday midday, Malala was still unconscious after receiving surgery in Peshawar to remove the bullet. She is considered to be in a stable condition but will need further medical treatment which she will likely receive abroad.

Two of her fellow students who were wounded in the attack are said to be in a stable condition.
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