Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai visited her hometown in Pakistan’s Swat Valley on Saturday for the first time since she was shot by a Taliban gunman as a teenager in 2012.
Roads leading to the 20-year-old education activist’s childhood home in Mingora were blocked earlier in the day, and a helicopter was seen landing at a government guest house about 1 km from her house.
“I was told by the family that it was very moving when Malala visited her home, Jawad Iqbal Yousafzai said, who is from the same Pashtun clan as Malala and said he had spoken to her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai.
He said the family was expected to also visit a local army cadet college, as well as a tourist resort.
With its scenic mountains and rivers, Swat is popular with holiday makers in Pakistan.
Yousafzai had been on visit to Pakistan since Thursday, her first trip home since she was shot and airlifted abroad for treatment.
However, the government and military had been providing security.
It had been uncertain whether Yousafzai would be able to visit Swat, parts of which spent almost two years under Pakistani Taliban militants’ harsh interpretation of Islamic law, due to continued concerns for her safety.
However, the nobel peace prize winner told Reuters that “I miss everything about Pakistan from the rivers, the mountains, to even the dirty streets and the garbage around our house.
“I also miss how I and my friends used to have gossip and how we used to fight with our neighbours.”
Two security officials told Reuters that the trip by helicopter would likely be just for one day.
The Pakistani army wrested control of Swat back from the Taliban in 2009 and the area remains mostly peaceful, but the Taliban occasionally launch attacks including one on the military a few weeks ago.
The Taliban claimed responsibility in 2012 for the attack on Yousafzai for her outspoken advocacy for girls’ education, which was forbidden under the militants’ rule over Swat.
She wrote an anonymous blog for the BBC Urdu service as a schoolgirl during the Taliban rule and later became outspoken in advocating more educational opportunities for girls.
In 2014, Yousafzai became the youngest Nobel laureate, honoured for her work with the Malala Foundation, a charity she set up to support education advocacy groups with a focus on Pakistan, Nigeria, Jordan, Syria and Kenya.
This month, a new girls’ school built with her Nobel prize money opened in the village of Shangla in Swat Valley. (Reuters/NAN)