For the first time since being shot, Nobel Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has made a tearful return to Pakistan.
She was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012.
Born in 1997, Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for female education. She hails from Swat Valley in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Growing up, she was primarily taught by her father, a poet and a school owner called Ziauddin Yousafzai. In 2007, Taliban militants took over control of large portions of the Swat Valley and banned a number of things including owning a television or playing music. In 2008, they issued an edict banning girls from going to school. A young Malala was taken to a press conference by her father that was organized about the development. Here she bravely said, “How dare the Taliban take away my basic right to education?”
In 2009, she began anonymously blogging for BBC Urdu about living under the influence of the Taliban. Her blogs became incredibly popular in the region and in large parts of the world. By 2012, Malala had become a prominent advocate and the Taliban decided to kill her. On 9th October 2012, a Taliban militant shot her in the head.
Even though she was in a serious condition, she made a full recovery after receiving treatment in both Pakistan and the United Kingdom. She also resumed her advocacy almost immediately. In 2014, it was announced that she will be sharing the Nobel Peace Prize along with Kailash Satyarthi, a children's rights activist from India.
Through the years, Malala has travelled the world to shine a spotlight on the importance of education. During a speech in 2013 she said, “They (the Taliban) thought that the bullets would silence us, but they failed. And out of that silence came thousands of voices. The terrorists thought they would change my aims and stop my ambitions. But nothing changed in my life except this: weakness, fear and hopelessness died. Strength, power and courage was born.”
In 2017, she announced that she had applied to the Oxford University. After having received her A-level results, she announced on Twitter that she had gained a place at the prestigious institution. After nearly six years of living in the UK, Malala returned to Pakistan. "Always it has been my dream that I should go to Pakistan and there, in peace and without any fear, I can move on streets, I can meet people, I can talk to people," Ms. Yousafzai said in a televised address from the PM's house in Islamabad. She added, “And I think that it's my old home again... so it is actually happening, and I am grateful to all of you.”
She travelled to the country with her father and brother and met with the nation’s Prime Minister. She also gave a brief speech which was televised. She spoke emotionally about her love for Pakistan stating, “It’s the happiest day of my life. I still can’t believe it’s happening. I don’t normally cry … I’m still 20 years old but I’ve seen so many things in life.”
“It’s been long-held desire of Malala Yousafzai and her parents to visit Swat and see her relatives and friends. But she was not given permission due to security concerns,” said one relative, who declined to be identified. Even though she is in Pakistan, her itinerary is being kept a secret to ensure her own security.
Our assessment is that Malala stands as a shining example of the strength of humanity against the face of evil. Her triumphant return to Pakistan showcases her courage. She remains a beacon of hope for people around the world.
Read more: Malala is Oxford bound