Islamabad: Nobel laureate and prominent Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai said on Thursday that she had always dreamt of returning to her native Pakistan, nearly six years after being shot by Taliban militants for advocating girl’s education in the country.
Addressing at the Pakistan Prime Minister’s Office, Malala broke down in tears, while recalling that how much she had missed Pakistan ever since shifting abroad for treatment and education, The Express Tribune reported.
The 20-year-old delighted the crowd by addressing the gathering in three languages – Urdu, Pashto, and English.
"I still can't believe that this is actually happening."
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“I still cannot believe this is happening. I have dreamed of this day for five years. All the time I was in cars and planes across the world, I used to tell myself that I am back home in Pakistan. And it was never true,” she said in between sobs of happiness.
The Nobel laureate also expressed grief recounting that how her life had changed so much in the last few years. Malala also underlined that if she had a choice, then she would not have left Pakistan and stay there happily.
Recalling the 2012 attack on her, she further said, “The attack happened and I had to leave home, everything was happening itself. I could not control it.”
She praised the doctors in Pakistan and UK for saving her life, while lamenting that due to security concerns and injuries, she was forced to stay abroad for such a long period of time.
In October 2012, Malala was shot in the head by Taliban gunmen for actively supporting girls’ right to education in Mingora, Swat Valley in northern Pakistan following which she left the country and shifted to Birmingham, UK.
Malala also underlined the importance of girl’s education, calling it a ‘social movement’ and vowed that she would continue to advocate it in her home country.
“We need to invest in the education of children in Pakistan. Malala Fund has already spent more than six million dollars in Pakistan for the education of girls,” she said regarding the non-profit group she had co-founded with her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai.
She thanked Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and other officials who “ensured that the former’s visit to Pakistan was made a reality.”
“I have always wanted to come back home and meet people here, talk to them, and spend time on the roads and streets I cherish so much, and now that it is actually happening, I am very grateful,” Malala stressed.
Talking about the rise of terrorism in Pakistan, especially in her hometown, Swat, the 20-year-old said that its citizens were the “biggest resources and assets” to tackle such anti-social elements and that the future of the country was extremely bright.
The Nobel peace prize winner also called on the people to join hands for the betterment of the country, adding that women empowerment should be at the top of the agenda.
Prime Minister Abbasi, who was also present during the address, termed Malala as “the nation’s daughter” and praised her for her cause of girl’s education not only in Pakistan but in the world.
“Malala is Pakistan’s representative to the world. She advocates for the education of children,” he said.
The Pakistan Prime Minister was not short of praises for the Nobel laureate as he went on to say that “how Malala left Pakistan when she was only a child but had now returned as a girl who has made her mark in history.”
Malala and her family arrived in Pakistan late on Wednesday after spending about six years in the UK.
During her stay in Pakistan, Malala is likely to hold meetings with Pakistan Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa and other important figures. She will also participate in the ‘Meet the Malala’ programme as well.
With inputs from ANI