“I Have Never Been So Happy”: Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai In Pakistan

20-year-old Malala Yousafzai also contradicted Pakistani critics who accuse her of promoting an ideology at odds with the country’s Islamic v

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai says she has pined for her home in Pakistan’s picturesque Swat Valley, even as she recalled two years living in fear under the Taliban’s harsh interpretation of Islamic law.

Visiting her homeland for the first time since a Taliban gunman shot her in the head over her blog advocating girls’ education, 20-year-old Yousafzai also contradicted Pakistani critics who accuse her of promoting an ideology at odds with the country’s Islamic values.

“I am proud of my religion, and I am proud of my country,” she told Reuters in an interview at her hotel on Friday.

Wearing a rose-printed head scarf and flowing tunic and trousers – one of many outfits family and friends brought her from Pakistan to Britain, where she is studying at Oxford University – Yousafzai said she was elated at being home.

“I had never been so excited for anything. I’ve never been so happy before,” she said.

On Saturday, Yousafzai flew by helicopter to visit her childhood home in Swat Valley amid heavy security.

“I miss everything about Pakistan … right from the rivers, the mountains, to even the dirty streets and the garbage around our house, and my friends and how we used to have gossip and talk about our school life, to how we used to fight with our neighbours.”

“We did talk about education and I appreciated what he has done, but I think there is a lot more that needs to be done. The government promised 4 percent of GDP for education but only so far has increased it to 2.7,” she said.

Meetings with the prime minister – as well as other world leaders – might seem a far cry from a schoolgirl’s life in the Swat Valley, but Malala said some aspects of her life, like attending Oxford, were longtime dreams.

“My initial plan was that I would continue my education, I would continue speaking out for the girls who cannot go to school … and one day once I finish my secondary education, I will apply to Oxford,” she said.

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“So it was in my plan … I did not know that this attack would happen and I would move to the UK, but I wanted to focus on Pakistan and continue to do as much as I could for girls education.”

 

 

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