The leader of Pakistan's largest religious political party has cast doubt on the Taliban shooting of schoolgirl activist Malala Yousufzai, saying he did not believe she was hit in the head.
The 15-year-old narrowly escaped with her life when Taliban gunmen shot her on her school bus last month for daring to campaign for the right of girls to go to school -- something the Islamist militants bitterly oppose.
Doctors in Britain, where she is now recovering, say the bullet from the attack grazed her brain and travelled through her head and neck before lodging in her left shoulder.
But the pro-Taliban cleric Fazlur Rehman, the head of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUIF) party, the largest religious faction in Pakistan's parliament, dismissed the medical assessment.
"Pictures shown on social media have shown the whole character as suspicious because there was no sign of injury after the dressing was removed," he told a rally in northwest Pakistan on Sunday.
"It shows that the bullet did not hit her in the head."
Images released by the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham showed Malala, who rose to fame in 2009 with a blog for BBC Urdu charting the brutalities of Taliban rule in Swat, showed the schoolgirl sitting up with her family, much of her head covered with a blue towel.
The cold-blooded attempt to murder the youngster shocked the world, but many in Pakistan -- where conspiracy theories on all subjects abound believe the incident was part of a plot to defame the Taliban and Islam.
Social media in Pakistan is full of such comments and pictures of Malala, questioning the credibility of the attack.
Malala is said to be recovering well in Britain, but needs to fight off an infection before having reconstructive surgery to repair her skull.