Malala Yousafzai (C), arrives along with her father Ziauddin Yousafzai (2L), brother Atal Yousafzai (L) and the principal of all-boys Swat Cadet College Guli Bagh, during her hometown visit on Saturday. — AFP
Malala Yousafzai (C), arrives along with her father Ziauddin Yousafzai (2L), brother Atal Yousafzai (L) and the principal of all-boys Swat Cadet College Guli Bagh, during her hometown visit on Saturday. — AFP

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai on Saturday visited her hometown in Swat, more than five years after she survived a Taliban attack in the valley.

"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.

Malala and her family were taken from Islamabad to Mingora, where security was visibly beefed up, in a helicopter provided by the Pakistani Army.

She entered her childhood home accompanied by her father, mother and brother.

Malala Yousafzai poses for photograph with her family members at her native home during a visit to Mingora on Saturday. ─ Photo courtesy Malala's Twitter
Malala Yousafzai poses for photograph with her family members at her native home during a visit to Mingora on Saturday. ─ Photo courtesy Malala's Twitter

According to the Associated Press, she was in tears after entering the home where relatives, former class fellows and friends had been anxiously waiting since morning to welcome her.

"So much joy seeing my family home, visiting friends and putting my feet on this soil again," said Malala in a tweet, sharing a picture of her family.

In another tweet, she shared scenic pictures of Swat Valley, with a message: "The most beautiful place on earth to me."

Read: I have dreamed of returning to Pakistan for five years, says emotional Malala

The 20-year-old also visited the all-boys Swat Cadet College Guli Bagh, some 15 kilometres (nine miles) outside of Mingora.

"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.

Malala had arrived in the capital before dawn on Thursday, flanked by heavy security. She plans to return to Britain on Monday.

Homecoming

Malala returned to Pakistan on a four-day visit late Wednesday night.

Malala Yousafzai makes her first visit back to Swat. ─ AFP
Malala Yousafzai makes her first visit back to Swat. ─ AFP

"Today, I am very happy that, after five-and-a-half years, I have set foot on the soil of my nation again," a teary Malala had said on Thursday in her speech at the Prime Minister House in Islamabad. "Today is the happiest day of my life, because I have returned to my country, I have stepped foot on my nation's soil again and am among my own people."

Due to security reasons, her entire itinerary has been kept tightly under wraps.

In a televised interview with Geo TV, aired on Friday, she said she plans to return to Pakistan permanently once her studies are completed.

Malala said there was “definitely a difference between the Pakistan of today and in 2012".

“Things are becoming better, people are uniting and a campaign for better Pakistan is ongoing, people are active which is very good.”

The Oxford student, who has said that she wants to run for prime minister one day, added: “It is my plan to return to Pakistan after completing my education because it is my country and I have equal rights on it like any other Pakistani.”

TTP attack

Malala became a global symbol for human rights after a gunman boarded her school bus on Oct 9, 2012, and asked “Who is Malala?” and shot her. Two other girls had also sustained gunshot wounds.

The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had accused her of anti-Islamic activities and of “smearing” the militant group in the statements released after the attack.

She has been living in the UK since then. She was shifted from Pakistan to a hospital in Birmingham in a precarious condition after she had sustained a bullet in her head in the targeted attack.

The attack on the schoolgirls received widespread criticism at the national and international levels as Malala received sympathies and support from across the world.

Responding to the condemnation, the TTP denounced Malala, compelling her to stay back in the UK due to security concerns.

After her recovery, Malala announced launching a movement for the promotion of girls’ education. She visited a number of countries as official guest where she was warmly welcomed and given an official protocol and reception. During a visit to Canada last year, she was provided an opportunity to address the country’s parliament.

In April 2017, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres selected Malala to be a UN messenger of peace, the highest honour bestowed by the UN chief on a global citizen.