Activist Malala Yousafzai returns to Pakistan for first time since 2012 attack

The Nobel laureate has been based in the UK since recovering from a gun attack in her home country

Activist Malala Yousafzai returns to Pakistan for first time since 2012 attack

In this photo released by the Press Information Department, Pakistani Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, left, and her parents pose for a photograph with Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, second from left, Prime Minister of Pakistan in Islamabad, Pakistan. Picture by: AP/Press Association Images

The female education activist and Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai has returned home to Pakistan for the first time in almost six years.

Malala became internationally known in 2009 - when she was only 11-12 years old - after her blog posts for BBC detailing life in the Taliban-occupied Swat region of Pakistan gained widespread media attention.

In October 2012, she was shot in the head by a Taliban gunman, with two of her friends also injured in the attack.

The critically injured teenager was flown to the UK for medical treatment, but made a recovery and was discharged from hospital in early 2013.

She has since continued her campaign for girls' education around the world, and she became the youngest ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2014.

This week, Malala - who is currently studying philosophy, politics and economics in Oxford University - finally returned to Pakistan, accompanied by members of her family.

In her first visit since being attacked in 2012, Malala met with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in the Pakistani capital Islamabad.

"I have dreamed of this day for five years"

Despite being accompanied by heavy security, the 20-year-old described the return to Pakistan as the "happiest day of my life".

In a televised address, a visibly emotional Malala regularly switched between English, Pashto and Urdu languages.

In comments quoted by The Express Tribune, the activist said: "I still cannot believe this is happening. I have dreamed of this day for five years. All the time I was in cars and planes across the world, I used to tell myself that I am back home in Pakistan. And it was never true.

"I have always wanted to come back home and meet people here, talk to them, and spend time on the roads and streets I cherish so much, and now that it is actually happening, I am very grateful."

She called for further investment in education in Pakistan, saying her non-profit organisation - the Malala Fund - has donated more than six million dollars for the education of girls in her home country.

BBC reports that many conservatives in the country criticise Malala for putting forward what they believe is a foreign agenda of female emancipation.

However, social media posts also showed many Pakistanis warmly welcoming the activist back home: