ISLAMABAD: Malala Yousafzai broke down in tears in Islamabad on Thursday while recounting how much she had missed Pakistan since moving abroad for treatment and education.
The youngest Nobel laureate in the world was addressing the media at an event held in her honour after meeting Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at the PM Office.
"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 stated in between sobs of happiness.
Malala lamented how so much had changed in her life in so little time. She also said that she would never have left Pakistan if she had a choice.
"The attack happened and I had to leave home, everything was happening itself. I could not control it," she told the gathering.
Malala expresses solidarity with #PashtunLongMarch
The Nobel laureate also highlighted how the doctors who had operated on her in Pakistan had saved her life, and further treatment for her injuries forced her abroad.
"Now I have to continue my education abroad," she added.
The advocate for education expressed her immense gratitude to all those who had made her visit to her home country possible.
"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," she stressed.
Malala further said extremism and terrorism in Swat destroyed the city when the Taliban took over and added that the future of Pakistan was bright and the people of the county were its biggest resource and asset.
"We need to invest in 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.
Malala also expressed hope that everyone in the country would join hands for the betterment of the nation, adding that empowering women should be at the top of the agenda.
PM Abbasi also addressed the gathering held for Malala and said Pakistan was proud the daughter of the nation had returned after making her place in the world.
“Malala is Pakistan’s representative to the world. She advocates for the education of children,” the premier stated.
The prime minister was lavish in his praise for the girl from Swat, telling the gathering how Malala left Pakistan when she was only a child but had come back as a girl who has made her mark in history.
Malala meets PM Abbasi
Earlier today, Malala met the premier at the Prime Minister's office. Minister of Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb, Minister of Information Technology Anusha Rehman, and Marvi Memon were also present in the meeting.
Shortly after the meeting, Malala headed to a ceremonial event held at the PM office itself, where the 20-year-old addressed the media.
According to the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) leader Memon, the premier offered Malala a chance to expand her gulmakai advocacy through Benazir Income Support Programme (BISP) beneficiary committee.
In pm office offered @Malala the chance to expand her gulmakai advocacy thru BISP beneficiary committees who reach out n ensure children get education. 64,000 Crete’s 1.6 mm women all yours pic.twitter.com/h7jf1Tv8Rn— Marvi Memon (@marvi_memon) March 29, 2018
Homecoming: Malala Yousafzai returns to Pakistan after nearly six years
The Nobel laureate arrives in Islamabad
Malala arrived in Islamabad in the wee hours of Thursday after spending nearly six years abroad. Although there was no official confirmation or announcement, reports suggested that Malala, her immediate family, and officials of the Malala Foundation flew into Islamabad from Dubai and landed Islamabad airport at 1:30am. They had taken a separate flight from Birmingham to Dubai.
According to reports, Malala is scheduled to stay in Pakistan until April 2.
During her stay in Pakistan, Malala, now 20, is scheduled to discuss the prospects of promoting education in less-developed areas of the country with Pakistani authorities, officials said. Her visit was kept secret due to security reasons, according to sources.
It is still not clear whether Malala would visit her hometown of Swat, where she was shot in the head in October 2012 by Taliban gunmen for actively supporting girls’ right to education.
Malala was on her way home in a school van when she and her class fellows were shot. She was hit in the head, but survived the attack and was airlifted to the Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC), Rawalpindi, where she had several surgeries before she was flown to the UK for advanced treatment.
The attack had left Malala with a serious brain injury and she struggled to speak for several months after the assault.
In 2014, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her contributions to and struggle for promoting education for children. She was 17-year at the time — the youngest-ever Nobel laureate. She shared the prize with Kailash Satyarthi, a children’s rights activist from India.
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