Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai has returned to Pakistan for the first time since being shot by Taliban militants.
Miss Yousafzai, now aged 20 and a vocal human rights activist, was shot in the head by a gunman for campaigning for female education in 2012.
In an emotional speech at the prime minister’s office, she said it had been her dream to return “without any fear”.
Details of the surprise trip are being kept secret for security reasons.
Pakistani television broadcast video showing her arriving with her parents at Islamabad’s Benazir Bhutto International Airport under tight security.
“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,” Miss Yousafzai said in a televised address from the PM’s house in Islamabad.
“And I think that it’s my old home again… so it is actually happening, and I am grateful to all of you.”
The trip is expected to last four days. Officials from her Malala Fund group are travelling with her, local media report.
It has not been confirmed if she will visit her family’s home region of Swat in the country’s rural north-west – once a militant stronghold – during her visit.
Many on Twitter called for a warm welcome for the activist after news of her overnight homecoming broke.
Recall that at just 11years, Miss Yousafzai began writing an anonymous diary for BBC Urdu about her life under Taliban rule.
She later became a vocal advocate of female education amid militant suppression in Pakistan, and was deliberately attacked on a school bus at the age of 15. Malala’s story brought international attention.
The Pakistani Taliban said at the time that they had shot her because she was “pro-West” and “promoting Western culture in Pashtun areas”.
The teenager sustained life-threatening injuries in the attack, and had to have part of her skull removed to relieve swelling on her brain.
After receiving emergency treatment at a military hospital in Pakistan, she was transported to the UK for further treatment and to recover in Birmingham, where her family continue to live.
Since her recovery, Miss Yousafzai has continued to speak up for children’s education and rights around the world.
She set up the Malala Fund with her father Ziauddin, with the goal of “working for a world where every girl can learn and lead without fear”.
In 2014 she became the youngest person to win the Nobel Peace Prize. She and Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi were jointly awarded it for their efforts for children’s rights.
She has continued campaigning while pursuing her studies, and is now studying at Oxford University.
Source: BBC News
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