Then came the light at the end of the tunnel. Examinations revealed that Malala suffered no major neurological damage.
More than a week after being shot a world away, Malala got back on her feet again, able to stand when leaning on a nurse's arm at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham. Eager to communicate, she wrote sentences on paper -- she couldn't talk at first because of a tracheotomy.
"Malala is a strong young woman and has worked hard with the people caring for her to make excellent progress in her recovery," Rosser said on her release.
She has returned to her family and continues therapies as an outpatient at the hospital where she will undergo further surgery on her skull.
Chasing the perpetrators
Malik, the Pakistani interior minister, quickly placed a $1 million bounty on the head of Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan, after he claimed responsibility for Malala's attack on behalf of the group.
Police immediately took the van driver and the school guard into custody for questioning and rounded up dozens in the course of the investigation.
They have identified the shooters as two boys, but their main suspect is an adult, who the police say drove the youths to the scene -- Atta Ullah Khan, 23. All three were at large.
In an interview with CNN, Khan's sister apologized to Malala for his alleged involvement.
"What he did was intolerable," Rehana Haleem said. "I don't consider Atta Ullah my brother anymore."
She called Malala her sister.
What's next for Malala?
After regaining strength, Malala is now set to endure more surgery. Doctors at Queen Elizabeth hospital will replace the piece of skull extracted in Pakistan. Her lead doctor, Dr. Rosser, "does not envisage any difficulties" in a pair of operations to repair her skull or fix the hearing in her left ear, he said Wednesday.
Malala is no stranger to recognition, and her ordeal has boosted it to global proportions.
She has penned her online diary in cooperation with the BBC in the past, and has spoken to other media, including CNN. At home, her writings led to her being awarded Pakistan's first National Peace Prize in late 2011.
From her hospital room in the UK, Malala asked early on for her school books, so she could study for exams she wants to take when she arrives back home in Pakistan.
She is all about education.