Malala Visits Pakistan District Where She Was Shot

 

Pakistani activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Malala Yousafzai (L), arrives with Pakistani Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Maryam Aurangzeb upon her arrival at the all-boys Swat Cadet College Guli Bagh, during her hometown visit, some 15 kilometres outside of Mingora, on March 31, 2018.  ABDUL MAJEED / AFP

 

Malala Yousafzai visited the Swat valley Saturday for her first trip back to the once militant-infested Pakistani region where she was shot in the head by the Taliban more than five years ago.

“I left Swat with my eyes closed and now I am back with my eyes open,” she told AFP, referring to how she was airlifted out in a coma after the attack in 2012.

“I am extremely delighted. My dream has come true. Peace has returned to Swat because of the invaluable sacrifices rendered by my brothers and sisters,” she said at a school outside Mingora, the district’s main town, where she was escorted by the Pakistani military.

The brief trip by the 20-year-old Nobel laureate is a highly symbolic moment for Pakistan, which regularly touts Swat as a success story in its long battle with extremism as it defends itself against accusations by the US and others that its northwest remains a safe haven for militancy.

The visit — on which she was accompanied by her father, mother, and two brothers — was kept tightly under wraps.

Malala Yousafzai (C), comes out from an helicopter upon her arrival at the all-boys Swat Cadet College Guli Bagh. Photo: ABDUL MAJEED / AFP

 

After flying by army helicopter from Islamabad, she met with friends and family before visiting the all-boys Swat Cadet College Guli Bagh, some 15 kilometres (nine miles) outside Mingora.

Officials had earlier said she would address students there, but she stayed only a few minutes to take photographs before leaving again to return to Islamabad.

Mingora is where Malala’s family was living and where she was attending school on October 9, 2012, when a gunman boarded her school bus, asked “Who is Malala?”, and shot her.

She was treated first at an army hospital then airlifted to the British city of Birmingham.

Her near-miraculous recovery, and tireless career as an education advocate, have since turned her into a global symbol for human rights, and in 2014 she became the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize when she was just 17.

Tearful homecoming

The trip comes two days after Malala, currently a student at Oxford University in the UK, made her emotional return to Pakistan, where her surprise visit has been met with widespread joy and pride.

She broke down in tears as she made a televised speech on Thursday, saying it was her “dream” to be back, and has vowed to Pakistani media that she will return permanently after she has completed her education.

However, she has also been met with pockets of intense criticism. Malala is widely respected internationally, but opinion is divided in Pakistan, where some conservatives view her as a Western agent on a mission to shame her country.

There had been much speculation within the country over whether Malala would go to Swat during her visit.

The mountainous region, once a prized tourist destination famed for its pristine scenery, was overrun by the Pakistani Taliban in 2007.

The militants imposed a brutal, bloody rule, but the army drove them out in 2009. Recently restrictions on tourists visiting the area were lifted.

However, security has remained fragile, as the assault on Malala three years after the military operation demonstrated. In February this year, 11 military personnel were killed in an attack, and analysts have warned the militants still have a presence there.

Residents of the area have praised Malala to AFP in recent days, crediting her with helping to generate improvements in education — especially for girls — in the deeply conservative region, part of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Earlier this month an all-girls school built with money from the Malala Fund opened in Shangla district northeast of Mingora, where her family lived before moving to the city.

“This is the kind of task which was impossible to achieve even over two decades,” Shangla district councillor Altaf Hussain Gulab told AFP on Friday. “Malala made it possible in a period of just a couple of years.”

“We have just one Malala today but after a decade or so, we will have Malalas everywhere,” agreed Farman Ullah, a shopkeeper in Shangla.

AFP

Malala Seeks More Action To Free Abducted Chibok Girls

malalaNobel Peace Prize winner and girls education activist, Malala Yousafzai has called for more action on the release of the schoolgirls abducted by the Boko Haram terrorist group in Nigeria, a year ago.

In an open letter to the girls, Miss Yousafzai criticised Nigeria’s authorities and the international community for not doing enough to secure the release of the girls.

The Boko Haram militants caused global outrage after abducting the girls from Nigeria’s north-eastern Chibok town in Borno State.

According to estimates by the UN, the insurgency has displaced 800,000 Nigerian children.

In an open letter to the abducted girls, Yousafzai said: “We cannot imagine the full extent of the horrors you have endured. But please know this: we will never forget you”.

The young Nobel Peace Prize winner added that there were reasons for “hope and optimism”, after recent successes by Nigeria’s military in recapturing territories from Boko Haram.

“I look forward to the day I can hug each one of you, pray with you, and celebrate your freedom with your families,” Ms Yousafzai said.

In the mean time in Nigeria, the Bring Back Our Girls (BBOG) campaign group is encouraging people to remember the girls ahead of the first anniversary of their abduction on Tuesday. As part of the week-long activities to mark one year of the girls’ abduction, a vigil and candlelit procession is due to be held in the nation’s capital, Abuja, on Tuesday as well.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef), said the abduction of the schoolgirls from Chibok was “only one of the endless tragedies being replicated on an epic scale across Nigeria and the region”.

In a report, UNICEF has said that the number of children fleeing the Boko Haram insurgency has doubled in the past year and more than 1.5 million people have now been displaced in the six-year conflict.

Taliban Survivor, Malala Visits Nigeria To Campaign For Chibok Girls

malala-yousafzai-03Pakistani rights activist, Malala Yousafzai, who survived being shot in the head by Taliban a few years ago for campaigning for girl child education, arrived Abuja, Nigeria in the early hours of Sunday July 13, to raise her voice in the demand to release the kidnapped Chibok girls.

Malala, who will celebrate her 17th year birthday on Monday, met with relatives of the more than 200 kidnapped girls who were kidnapped by militant group, Boko Haram, from a school at Chibok in April.

Some of the parents broke down into tears as Malala spoke at a hotel in the capital Abuja on Sunday.

“I can see those girls as my sisters … and I’m going to speak up for them until they are released,” said Malala.

“I’m going to participate actively in the ‘bring back our girls’ campaign to make sure that they return safely and they continue their education.

“I can feel… the circumstances under which you are suffering.

“It’s quite difficult for a parent to know that their daughter is in great danger. My birthday wish this year is…bring back our girls now and alive”, Malala said.

She is scheduled to meet with the President Goodluck Jonathan to further discuss how the girls can be saved.

Malala Yousafzai became famous when she was shot by the Taliban in October 2012 after she spoke publicly about girls’ rights to education.

Her presence would hopefully put more pressure on the Nigerian Government to help bring back the girls.