Malala returns to Pakistan for first time since assassination attempt

30 March, 2018, 00:37 | Author: Sheila Harris
  • Malala returns to Pakistan for first time since assassination attempt

"Finally, I am here". Now, for the first time since leaving to seek that treatment, she's home.

Yousafzai had already won global acclaim as an advocate for women's education when she caught the attention of the Taliban.

At a ceremony at the United Nations headquarters in New York, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres gave Malala the top award, saying he was inspired by her "unwavering commitment to peace" and "resolve to foster a better world". Secrecy surrounded her arrival as well as details of her visit, which is expected to last until Monday.

When she was a teenager, Yousafzai was critically hurt after being shot at point-blank range in October 2012 by Taliban gunmen as she returned home from school.

In 2012, Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban for promoting female education. At the Prime Minister's office, Malala, a 20-year-old now, said it was her dream to come home without any fear.

The Nobel Prize-winning activist, now 20 years old, visited the country on Thursday to meet with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi.

"It is just so hard if you haven't seen your home, your relatives, your friends", she said, adding she wanted her feet to "touch that land".

Abbasi praised Yousafzai for her sacrifices and activism.

"I wish she had come here, but we welcome her", she said, as she sat among schoolchildren. In February, a suicide bombing at an empty lot used by soldiers for sports and exercise killed 11 troops, underscoring the threat that militants still pose to the region and this Islamic nation.

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Ms Memon, who is the chairwoman of the Benazir Income Support Programme, tweeted "Welcome home @Malala" while minister Musadik Malik described her as a "homecoming queen".

In statements released by PTV World, which is part of the state broadcaster, she also said: "I have been through tough times from an early age. And it was never true", she stated in between sobs of happiness. Local media speculated she might visit the school. "And now that I am seeing it today, I am very happy", she continued in Urdu, pausing to wipe tears away from her eyes. I don't normally cry.

Politicians, journalists and celebrities were among those welcoming her back. Two other girls also sustained gunshot wounds.

She was treated for her injuries in Birmingham, where she completed her schooling. She added that for further treatment, she had to move overseas and now she has to continue her studies there.

On December 10, 2014, Yousafzai received Nobel Peace Prize with Indian children's rights and education advocate Kailash Satyarthi. But some Pakistanis have always been critics of Malala, favouring conspiracy theories claiming she is "a Western agent" or was actually shot by the Central Intelligence Agency.

Yousafzai has championed Pakistan and often spoken in her native Pashto language, always promising to return home.

"I welcome #MalalaYousafzai the fearless and resilient daughter of Pakistan back to her country", politician Syed Ali Raza Abidi wrote on Twitter, one of many Pakistanis expressing joy on her return.

Gannon reported from Kabul, Afghanistan.

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