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Still can’t believe I am in Pakistan, says Malala

ISLAMABAD: Nobel laureate and girls’ education activist Malala Yousafzai says she is very much contented after returning to her home country after nearly six years.

Speaking at a reception held in her honour at the Prime Minister House, Malala brimmed with tears while sharing her feelings to be on the home soil. “I still can’t believe that I am in Pakistan,” she said.

The young education activist said she was just 20, but witnessed a lot in the short span. “It was a dream in last five years that I will visit Pakistan.”

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She called for investing in children’s future and their education as a top priorty.

Malala Yousafzai Pakistan
Malala Yousafzai during a question hour session.

Malala said democracy was the first preference of the people of Pakistan. “I want to speak to everyone sans any fear.” She called out against politics on issues related to education, health and economy.

She also expressed her desire to work for education of children in Pakistan.

It is her first visit since she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman six years ago for “advocating education for girls”.

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Malala returned Pakistan by a foreign airlines flight after her six-year stay abroad. Stringent security measures were taken at Benazir International Airport here on arrival of the Nobel peace laureate.

Malala Yousafzai will stay in Islamabad for four days and will meet key national leaders and officials including Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

Malala Yousafzai

Now a celebrated girls’ education activist, Malala left Pakistan in 2012 after surviving an assassination attempt by Taliban who attacked her for daring to speak up for the right of girls to attend school in Swat, her hometown.

In 2013, Yousafzai and her father Ziauddin co-founded the Malala Fund to bring awareness to the social and economic impact of girls’ education worldwide.

On December 10, 2014, Yousafzai received Nobel Peace Prize with Indian children’s rights and education advocate Kailash Satyarthi.

Yousafzai, has been living in the UK since October 2012. She was shifted from Pakistan to a hospital in Birmingham in a precarious condition after she had sustained a bullet in her head in a targeted attack by the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Swat. She was on her way home in a school van with other girls after taking an exam when the TTP men opened fire on them. Two other girls also sustained gunshot wounds.

Reacting to the condemnation, the TTP denounced Malala Yousafzai, forcing her to stay back in the UK due to the life threat.

The journey

Yousafzai, has been living in the UK since October 2012. She was shifted from Pakistan to a hospital in Birmingham in a precarious condition after she had sustained a bullet in her head in a targeted attack by the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) in Swat. She was on her way home in a school van with other girls after taking an exam when the TTP men opened fire on them. Two other girls also sustained gunshot wounds.

Malala began her campaign aged just 11, when she started writing a blog — under a pseudonym — for the BBC’s Urdu service in 2009 about life under the Taliban in Swat, where they were banning girls’ education.

In 2007 the Islamist militants had taken over the area, which Malala affectionately called “My Swat”, and imposed a brutal, bloody rule.

Malala Yousafzai

Opponents were murdered, people were publicly flogged for supposed breaches of sharia law, women were banned from going to market, and girls were stopped from going to school.

But it was only after the shooting, and a subsequent near-miraculous recovery, that she became a truly global figure.

She opened a Twitter account on her last day of school in July 2017 and now has more than a million followers.

“I know that millions of girls around the world are out of school and may never get the opportunity to complete their education,” Malala wrote at the time.

During a recent appearance at the World Economic Forum in Davos, the feminist campaigner urged women to “change the world” without waiting for the help of men.

“We won’t ask men to change the world, we’re going to do it ourselves,” Malala said.

“We’re going to stand up for ourselves, we’re going to raise our voices and we’re going to change the world.”

 

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