By Prarthana Mitra
Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai returned to Pakistan for the first time in six years, after being shot by Taliban militants for advocating girls’ education and for asserting her right to go to school. Local media reported that 20-year-old Yousafzai arrived at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport on Thursday morning with her parents and officials from her Malala Fund group, flanked by heavy security.
“I am very happy, and I still can’t believe that this is actually happening … in the last five years I have always just seen this dream of setting foot in my homeland,” Yousafzai said as she pushed back tears from her eyes in her first address to the media upon her homecoming.
Now a global education icon, Yousafzai’s struggles against the Taliban attracted enormous solidarity from all corners of the world. After getting shot in the head and the neck by masked gunmen in Pakistan’s Swat Valley in 2012, fourteen-year-old Malala was airlifted to a British hospital, and since then has risen as a global human rights icon.
Response to homecoming
Her surprise return to Pakistan despite security concerns, has been met with a warm welcome and lots of prayers from her countrymen and well-wishers all over the world.
I welcome #MalalaYousafzai the brave and resilient daughter of Pakistan back to her country.
— Syed Ali Raza Abidi (@abidifactor) March 28, 2018
What a pleasantly surprisng news ! @Malala expected in Pakistan tonight ! Welcome to your motherland, daughter of the soil, pride of the nation ! Give her the utmost love, everyone ! ❤️
— Gharidah Farooqi (@GFarooqi) March 28, 2018
Welcome home @Malala
May you keep being an inspiration for education for children in Pakistan and globally.
— Abdul Aleem Khan (@aleemkhan_pti) March 29, 2018
There seems to be a split of opinion in Pakistan on the young activist’s efforts with women’s education, with some condemning her Western approach. However, Yousafzai believes there is a lot of work to be done and thinks there is a “lust for change” in the country that has been struggling with extremism for quite some time.
According to local media reports, the trip will last for four days and it has not yet been confirmed whether she will visit her hometown, Swat, due to security reasons.
The journey of an education activist
Shortly after her recovery, the United Nations launched a campaign called “I Am Malala” and declared November 10 as Malala Day- a day of action to draw attention to her and the “the 32 million girls like Malala not at school”.
In 2014, the Nobel Prize committee recognized her efforts with education and emancipation of young girls and the influence she wielded internationally, awarding her with the prestigious Nobel Prize for Peace. She is the youngest recipient of the prize in history.
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