Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai said “today is the happiest moment of my life” as she returned to Pakistan for the first time since being shot in the head by Taliban militants in 2012 for speaking up for women’s education.
The 20-year-old arrived under tight security on Thursday morning and one of her first stops, just hours after touching down, was a visit with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi at his office.
Pakistan-born Ms Yousafzai, who now lives in the UK, said: “Today is the happiest moment of my life. I always dreamt of returning to my country.”
In statements released by PTV World, which is part of the state broadcaster, after the top-level meeting she also said: “I still can’t believe that I have returned home.
“I have been through tough times from early age. I saw women facing challenges in my society.
“I never wanted to leave my country but my doctors advised me to go abroad.”
The Pakistan Muslim League said that ministers Marriyum Aurangzeb and Anusha Rahman Ahmad Khan plus politician Marvi Memon were at the meeting.
Ms Memon, who is chairwoman of the Benazir Income Support Programme, tweeted “Welcome home @Malala”.
She had said Ms Yousafzai’s return was a proud day for Pakistan and that it was “an incredible surprise (when) I woke up to this morning” to know that Yousafzai is back along with her parents.
Ms Yousafzai, who is now studying at Oxford University, was just 15 when she was targeted by the Taliban for her outspoken campaigning over girls’ rights to an education.
Her career as an activist began in early 2009, when she started writing a blog for the BBC about her life under Taliban occupation and promoting education for girls in Pakistan’s Swat Valley.
But her campaign angered local militants and she was shot during an assassination attempt while taking the bus to school.
She was treated at Birmingham’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital and, fearing reprisals in her native country, made the city her home.
In 2014 she became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and her campaign for children’s rights to education across the world has seen her address the United Nations on the issue.