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Extremely happy to return Pakistan after five years: Malala Yousafzai

ISLAMABAD: A visibly emotional Malala Yousafzai, the youngest Nobel laureate in history, couldn’t contain her disbelief upon finally returning home after more than five years away following a Taliban attack in Swat in 2012.
“I have dreamed of returning to Pakistan for the past five years,” said a teary Yousafzai in a homecoming speech on Thursday at a function at Prime Minister House in Islamabad.
Yousafzai returned to Pakistan on a four-day visit late Wednesday night accompanied by her father Ziauddin, Farah Mohamed and Amiro¬byn Thompson. The 20-year-old Oxford University student from Swat has been living in the United Kingdom after surviving a Taliban attack which necessitated her departure abroad for medical treatment.
“Today I am very happy that, after five-and-a-half years, I have set foot on the soil of my nation again,” she began in Urdu. Switching to Pashto, she said: “Today is the happiest day of my life, because I have returned to my country, I have stepped foot on my nation’s soil again and am among my own people.”
“I am very happy, and I still can’t believe – if I am honest – I still can’t believe that this is actually happening, this is real. For the last five years, I have dreamed of returning back home. And whenever I would be in plane or a car and I would see the cities of London or New York, I would say [to myself], ‘Just imagine that this is Pakistan, imagine that you are driving in lslamabad, imagine that this is Karachi’, and it was never true. And now that I am seeing it today, I am very happy,” she continued in Urdu, pausing to wipe tears away from her eyes.
“I was born in 1999,” she said, stopping to wipe more tears from her eyes. “I don’t cry often,” she laughed.
“I am now 20-years-old, but I have seen a lot over the course of my life. From growing up in Swat – it was such a beautiful place – to then seeing terrorism and extremism from 2007 till 2009. And then seeing how many difficulties women and girls face in our society, and how we can fight against those challenges.”
“And then being attacked, leaving my country…Everything was happening itself, I could not control anything. If it was my call, I would never have left my country. The doctors performed surgery on me and saved my life. But then for further treatment I had to go out and continue my education there. But it was always my dream that I return to Pakistan. And I want to be able to move freely in the streets and meet and talk to people peacefully, without any fear. And [I hope that] it will be like my old home – just as it was.”
“So it’s actually heartening, and I am grateful to all of you,” she added.
Yousafzai described Pakistan’s future generations as “the biggest resources we have”.
“We need to invest in kids’ education. The Malala Fund is already working on this. We have invested more than $6 million on girls’ education in Pakistan, and we are continuing this work… I hope we can all join hands in this mission for the betterment of Pakistan, so that our future generation can receive the right education and women can become empowered, do jobs, stand on their own two feet and earn for themselves. That’s the future we want to see.”
“I still can’t believe I am here. perhaps if I spend more time here [it will sink in]… It is literally a dream,” she concluded.

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