Almost six years after Swat’s bravest daughter had to be airlifted for emergency surgery following an assassination attempt, Malala Yousafzai has come back home — though for a brief visit.
Her return marks a significant victory over extremist elements in the country, and gives international credence to the many sacrifices the nation has made over the last decade.
Speaking at a function at PM House in Islamabad, she said: "To tell you the truth, I still can’t believe this is actually happening."
"I was always dreaming for the past five years that I come home… whenever I would travel to London or New York, I would pretend that I was in Pakistan — driving around in Islamabad or Karachi," she said.
Few can lay claim — by the end of their lives — to even half of what Malala has achieved in her youth. She spent her 17th birthday in Nigeria advocating for the freedom of hundreds of girls kidnapped by Boko Haram. Later that year, she became the youngest winner of the Nobel peace prize.
She questioned United States president Barack Obama on his drone policy in northwest Pakistan. She donated $50,000 to help rebuild the United Nations schools in Gaza, and has established a school for Syrian girls in Lebanon.
Her return to the country has come at a time when Pakistan has been alienated by the US for allegedly “not doing enough” in the fight against terrorism.
Read more: Nostalgic Malala meets PM, pleads for unity