The brazen shooting of a defiant teen blogger has stirred the conscience of Pakistan, a nation plagued for decades by violent extremism.
An angry chorus of voices in social media, on the street, in newspapers and over the airwaves has decried the attack against 14-year-old Malala Yousufzai as cowardly and an example of a government unable to cope with militants.
"I blame the Taliban, first and foremost," columnist Sami Shah wrote in The Express Tribune, a local English daily. "I blame the government. All of it."
Malala was slowly recuperating Wednesday after surgeons worked for three hours to remove a bullet lodged in her neck.
On Tuesday, Taliban militants stopped a van carrying three girls, including Malala, on their way home from school in northwestern Pakistan's conservative Swat Valley.
One of the gunmen asked which one was Malala Yousufzai. When the girls pointed her out, the men opened fire. The bullets struck all three girls.
For two of them, the injuries were not life-threatening. For Malala, it was touch-and-go for a while.
"We are happy that she survived, but are worried too about her health condition," said her uncle, Faiz Muhammad, who is with her at a military hospital in Peshawar.
On Wednesday, police took the van driver and the school guard into custody for questioning. They also said they'd identified the culprits.
Meanwhile, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and issued an ominous threat.
"If she survives this time, she won't next time," a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban said. "We will certainly kill her."
Mian Iftikhar Hussein, the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa information minister, said he was declaring a bounty of $100,000 for the capture of the culprits in the attempt on Malala's life.
Pakistani Army Chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani visited Malala in the hospital and delivered a simple message: "We refuse to bow before terror." He also noted that the Taliban lack respect for the "golden words" of the Prophet Mohammed -- "that the one who is not kind to children is not amongst us."
"In attacking Malala, the terrorists have failed to grasp that she is not only an individual, but an icon of courage and hope," the general said.
The chief minister of Punjab said he would bear the cost of Malala's treatment, calling her "the daughter of Pakistan."
The head of PIA, the national airline, said he was putting a plane on standby to take the teenager "anywhere in the world if needed" for treatment. Two neurosurgeons, one in the United States and one in the United Kingdom, have also offered to fly to Pakistan if needed, the interior minister said.
Throughout the country and around the world, Pakistanis, hurt and angry, prayed.
"Malala is what Taliban will never be," said Murtaza Haider, the associate dean of research and graduate programs at the Ted Rogers School of Management at Toronto's Ryerson University, in an opinion piece in the Dawn newspaper.
"She is fearless, enlightened, articulate, and a young Muslim woman who is the face of Pakistan and the hope for a faltering nation that can no longer protect its daughters."
"If the Taliban wants to fight, then they should pick on someone their own size," a girl said on a local news channel.
Shamila Chaudhary, a former U.S. National Security Council director for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told CNN the incident reverberates among women and girls and even conservative Muslims.
"The Pakistani Taliban don't have a lot of support in the Pakistani society," she said. "They don't offer social services and justice, they don't offer any alternative to weak government."
This latest incident "makes them more unpopular" among masses of people who view the aspirations of Malala and the Taliban's resistance to them as a "fight between good and evil," said Chaudhary, a senior South Asia fellow at the New America Foundation.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called the act "heinous and cowardly" on Wednesday and said the attackers must be brought to justice.
"The secretary-general, like many around the world, has been deeply moved by Malala Yousufzai's courageous efforts to promote the fundamental right to education -- enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights," a representative for Ban said.