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Zainab Imran addresses a press conference in Karachi. – Photo by AFP
Zainab Imran addresses a press conference in Karachi. – Photo by AFP

KARACHI: A Pakistani schoolgirl selected to take part in the Olympic torch relay spoke of her delight on Friday, and said she hoped it could improve the country’s tarnished image.

Zainab Imran, 15, was selected to participate in the relay next week in Nottingham by the British Council.

Council volunteers from 20 countries were chosen to hold the torch and represent their country at a June 28 ceremony. The Olympic Games begins on July 27.

“It is a once in a lifetime opportunity and I am very happy,” Zainab told reporters. “It is a great inspiration for all Pakistani youth and I will try to present a soft image of my country.”

Pakistan’s image worsened spectacularly after US troops killed Osama bin Laden northwest of Islamabad in May 2011.

It has also attracted international criticism for its human rights record and the reluctance of its elites to pay taxes when so many millions live in poverty and from handouts from foreign donors.

“It’s unfortunate that a few people have tarnished our country’s image and it’s our duty to fight that out and don’t allow these people to create a bad name for Pakistan,” said Zainab.

Pakistan’s men’s field hockey team qualified, but otherwise Pakistan will field only wild card entries at the Games.