IN PICS: Nobel Peace winner Malala in Swat for the first in 6 years

  • "I missed everything about home - the rivers, the mountains, my friends," says the 20-years-old girls' education activist
  • She became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014
Pakistan

MINGORA – Pakistan’s Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai returned to her hometown Saturday for the first time since receiving a gunshot wound to the head there in 2012 for her work as an advocate for young women’s education.

The 20-year-old and her family arrived in a helicopter provided by the Pakistani military, which took her to the town of Mingora in the Swat Valley from Islamabad. She had arrived in the capital before dawn on Thursday flanked by heavy security and plans to return to Britain on Monday.

Yousafzai said she has pined for her home in the picturesque Swat Valley and that she was really happy to be visiting.

The youngest ever Nobel laureate visited her home in Mingora, all-boys Swat Cadet College Guli Bagh and Fizagat Recreation Park during her day-long visit.

Malala was accompanied by State Information Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, her family and others as she travelled by an army helicopter from Islamabad to Swat.

Yousafzai, 20, won international renown after she was shot by the Taliban in Mingora. She received initial treatment in Pakistan and later was taken to England for further care. She stayed on in the United Kingdom to continue her education and became the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.

Yousafzai had asked authorities to allow her to go to Mingora and Shangla village in the Swat Valley, where a school has been built by her Malala Fund.

In October 2012, Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban militant who jumped inside her school van and yelled, “Who is Malala?” She was targeted for speaking out on education for young women. The Taliban at the time claimed responsibility for the shooting, saying she was promoting “Western thinking,” adding that they had warned her family three times before deciding to kill her.

Since her attack and recovery, Yousafzai has led the Malala Fund in which she said has invested $6 million for schools and books and uniforms for schoolchildren.

Yousafzai has won praise from across Pakistan on her return home, but some critics on social media have tried to undermine her efforts to promote girls’ education. Yousafzai told media outlets Friday that she expected criticism from militants, who had a particular mindset, but doesn’t understand why some educated Pakistanis oppose her.

“Those who do criticize have an absurd kind of criticism that doesn’t make any sense,” she said in an interview with Pakistan’s The News English-language newspaper published Saturday.

“What I want is for people to support my purpose of education and think about the daughters of Pakistan who need an education,” she told the newspaper. “Don’t think about me. I don’t want any favor or I don’t want everyone to accept me. All I care about is that they accept education as an issue.”