Malala Yousafzai returns to Pakistan for first time since she was shot by Taliban

Nobel Peace Prize winner says she will continue fight for girls’ education

A Pakistani customer reads the book written by Malala Yousafzai, who survived a Taliban attack, in Islamabad, Pakistan. (AP Photo/B.K. Bangash)

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai on Thursday said she was excited to be back in Pakistan for the first time since she was shot in 2012 by Taliban militants angered at her championing of education for girls.

Yousafzai said in a brief speech at a ceremony at Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi’s office that she will continue to campaign for the education of girls and asked Pakistanis to be united on issues like providing better health care and education.

She said she remembered having to leave Pakistan for treatment after she was attacked. Covering her tear-filled eyes with her hands, Yousafzai said it was hard to wait for more than five years to return home.

“It is now actually happening and I am here,” she said.

Abbasi praised Yousafzai for her sacrifices and role in the promotion of girls’ education. He said he was happy to welcome her home, where he said terrorism has been eliminated.

Since her attack and recovery, Yousafzai has led the “Malala Fund,” which she said has invested $6 million in schools and to provide books and uniforms for schoolchildren.

“For the betterment of Pakistan, it is necessary to educate girls and empower women,” she said.

Earlier, tight security greeted the now-20-year-old university student upon her arrival at Pakistan’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport. Local television showed her with her parents in the lounge at the airport before leaving in a convoy of nearly 15 vehicles, many of them occupied by heavily armed police.

Her return had been shrouded in secrecy and she was not likely to travel to her hometown of Mingora in the Swat valley, where the shooting occurred.

READ MORE: Malala’s triumph against extremism

READ MORE: B.C. filmmaker wraps up Malala documentary

Yousafzai was just 14 years old but already known for her activism when Taliban gunman boarded the school van in which she was sitting and demanded to know “who is Malala?” before shooting her in the head. Two of her classmates were also injured. In critical condition, Yousafzai was flown to the garrison city of Rawalpindi before being airlifted to Birmingham in Britain.

She has since spoken at the United Nations, mesmerizing the world with her eloquence and her unrelenting commitment to the promotion of girls’ education through the Malala Fund, a book, meetings with refugees and other activism.

She was awarded the Nobel in 2014, along with Indian child-rights activist Kailash Satyarthi, and said on the day she collected the prize that “Education is one of the blessings of life, and one of its necessities.”

She remained in Britain after undergoing medical treatment there and was accepted to the University of Oxford last year.

At home in Pakistan, however, she has been condemned by some as a Western mouthpiece with some even suggesting on social media that the shooting was staged. Yousafzai has repeatedly responded to the criticism with a grace far outstripping her years, often saying education is neither Western, nor Eastern.

Often when she has spoken in public she has championed her home country and spoken in her native Pashto language, always promising to return to her home.

On March 23 when Pakistan celebrated Pakistan Day, Yousafzai tweeted, “I cherish fond memories of home, of playing cricket on rooftops and singing the national anthem in school. Happy Pakistan Day!”

Local television channels have been showing her return to Pakistan with some replaying the horror of her shooting and the rush to get her treatment.

Pakistani officials say they captured several suspects after the attack on Yousafzai, but the head of the Taliban in Pakistan, Mullah Fazlullah, was still on the run and believed to be hiding in neighbouring Afghanistan.

Fazlullah’s spokesman, Mohammad Khurasani, earlier this month said Fazlullah’s son was among 21 “holy warriors” killed by missiles fired by a U.S. drone at a seminary in Afghanistan.

The Associated Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Heroism medal for Chilliwack woman who tried to save wheelchair-bound man stuck on rail tracks

Julie Callaghan awarded Carnegie Medal from U.S.-based foundation for ‘extraordinary heroism’

Rifle thefts from Lindell Beach break-and-enter leads to arrest downtown Chilliwack

Andrew Scott Charpentier charged with numerous offences after guns seized from Reece Avenue address

Extended hours of operation at city hall for Chilliwack taxpayers

The Finance Department at city hall will be open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday

Chilliwack community group gathering to benefit youth health centre

Chilliwack Citizens for Change planning tailgate party for CHYC

Only legal pot shop between Vancouver and Kamloops now open

Private cannabis store on Skwah land in Chilliwack is first B.C. licensee to be Indigenous owned

VIDEO: Dramatic car fire on Highway 1 in Chilliwack

Vehicle on the shoulder of the westbound lanes west of Lickman Road Friday evening

Top B.C. court upholds ruling that struck down indefinite solitary confinement

Feds had appealed ruling in case brought by B.C. Civil Liberties Association, John Howard Society

Two bear cubs saved near Revelstoke after mother hit by car

Conservation officers trapped the cubs and transported them to a wildlife sanctuary

Surrey RCMP raises Pride flag amid din of protesters

There were about 30 protesters on either side, and 20 Mounties doing crowd control

B.C. students’ camping trip goes ahead despite tents getting stolen

Nanaimo businesses, school staff and parents ensure trip goes on

‘I feel free’ says mother of BC murder victim after daughter’s belongings returned

After 11 years, Rosemarie Surakka said she feels like it is 99.9 per cent over

‘Predatory’ suspect sought after exposing himself on SkyTrain

Man had been riding the trains for about an hour between Main Street and Edmonds stations

Victoria woman in L.A. hospital after she was run over twice

Lynn Phillips has suffered from multiple broken bones and internal bleeding

‘Text neck’ causing bone spurs to grow from millennials’ skulls, researchers say

Technology use from early childhood causing abnormal bone growths in 41 per cent of young adults

Most Read