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Warm Welcome and Criticism for Malala on Her First Pakistan Visit after Attack



New Delhi: Six years after being shot in the face and neck by the Taliban, an Afghanistan based terrorist group, for raising her voice for the girl education, 20-year-old Malala Yousafzai returned to Pakistan on Thursday.

Ms.Yousafzai arrived with her parents at Benazir Bhutto International Airport under heavy security, Pakistan based news channel Geo TV broadcasted still images of her arrival. Her visit became the top headline of Pakistan and started trending on Twitter with #WelcomeMalala.

But she also faced hard criticism from some hardline Islamists as well as members of the conservative middle class who support education for girls but object to disseminating the country’s problems abroad. Leading Pakistani journo, Hamid Mir, issued a plea for opposition politicians and commentators to exercise restraint when talking about the visit.

“International media is highly focused on her return and this (bad language) will damage Pakistan’s image,” he said.

Details of the trip have been kept secret “in view of the sensitivity”, officials stated. The trip is expected to last four days. Members from Malala Fund group have also accompanied her, local media reported. She will also meet with the Prime Minister of Pakistan.

What has changed in last six years?

Today, Malala Yousufzai is a familiar name, youngest Noble peace prize Laureate, activist, writer of a bestselling novel (I am Malala) and the list goes on.

Malala used to write about girls education and their rights for BBC Urdu anonymously, which did not go well with The Taliban. One fatal day, her life changed at 360 degrees, when she was deliberately attacked on a school bus. Severely wounded, Yousafzai was taken by helicopter from one military hospital in Pakistan to another, where doctors placed her in a medically induced coma so an air ambulance could fly her to Great Britain for treatment. This attack did not afraid her; in fact, it strengthens her belief in the cause.

Since her recovery, the young girl has continued to speak up for children’s education and rights around the world. She set up the Malala Fund with the goal of “working for a world where every girl can learn and lead without fear”.

She even secured a place for herself in the Oxford University, one of the oldest and prestigious universities in the world.