ISLAMABAD - Hinting at Malala Yousafzai’s return to Pakistan sometime soon, her father vowed to increase educational activities and spread his network across Swat and elsewhere as the world celebrated Malala Day on Saturday.

“The way world has responded to life attempt on Malala has strengthened my faith in the noble cause to spread education,” Ziauddin Yousafzai said in a telephonic conversation with this journalist from Birmingham.

“My little child fell but the entire Pakistan stood up. This has cemented my resolve to promote educational activities in Pakistan and I’ll be contemplating on expanding my network in Swat and beyond that once I step into country,” he added.

Last week, the United Nations had announced celebrating November 10 as Malala Day across the world under the theme “Stand up for Malala - Stand up for Girls’ Right to Education.” The Saturday’s event coincided with the UN Human Rights Day, annually celebrated by the world body on November 10.

In connection with Malala Day, the UN Special Envoy for Global Education and former British Premier Gordon Brown had arrived in Pakistan on Friday to present a petition to the Pakistani government carrying over a million signatures in the young girl’s support. Addressing a press briefing Saturday, the UN envoy appreciated what he described as Pakistan’s resolve to promote global education. The envoy said he was confident that Pakistan would make progress in promoting global education in the coming years. Brown assured Pakistan of the international community’s assistance in expanding its educational prospects.

Furthermore, Malala’s father extended profound gratitude to the international community and Pakistani public for their support. “Now I feel that this entire incident was like a blessing in disguise. I had never imagined this kind of love, care, support and appreciation at home and abroad after life attempt on my daughter. I think God passed me through nerve-wrecking time to reward in such a big way. This has united Pakistani nation against militancy and revived everyone’s resolve to make Pakistan a progressive and enlightened state. We all want to see an educated Pakistan,” he said.

On his daughter’s health condition, Yousfzai said that the team of doctors treating her would review Malala’s health condition next week. “By the Grace of God and with the professional support of physicians, she is recovering fast. Now she can walk and talk but her physical movement is restricted. Malala is very anxious to come back home and continue her studies. I hope she’ll be landing in Pakistan sometime soon. She is extremely thankful to everybody for standing by us in tough time. We don’t have words to express our commendation for the kind of support we have received,” he said.

Malala’s maternal uncle in Mingora Ahmad Shah Yousafzai said, students across public and private schools in Swat held ceremonies in connection with Malala Day. “This sends a strong message to the terrorists; ‘You cannot dissuade us from seeing light and the only way to light is education. We reject your medieval methods to keep us in darkness.”

Malala’s father-owned Khushal Public School, where she was studying, is conducting regular classes for the students despite security threats. “Security threats are of course there, so we have made preventive arrangements. If a child can stand up so brave as to risk her life for a noble cause, why can’t we? No matter what terrorists do, they are bound to fail in their evil designs,” Ahmad Yousafzai said. 

A vocal advocate of girls education, the 14-year old Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by a Taliban terrorist on the last month’s 9th in Swat’s town of Mingora while she was on her way back to home from school. Accepting responsibility of the incident, Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a notorious terrorist outfit, had said that Malala was shot for her opposition to ‘ Taliban Mujahideen.’

After undergoing initial surgeries at Combined Military Hospital (CMH) and Armed Forces Institute of Cardiology (AFIC) Rawalpindi the young patient was moved to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham, United Kingdom, on October 15 where she is being treated.

Meanwhile, urging the government to impose emergency for education so that Pakistan could meet Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by 2015, participants at an event demanded of the government to increase budget allocation to 4-5 per cent.

The event “Education for All...Peace for Region” was organised by South Asian Women in Media Pakistan (SAWM) to observe Malala Action Day on Saturday at National Press Club.

To pay tribute to Malala, Shamoon Hashmi, Mehmooda Ghazia, Haris Khalique and Kishwar Naheed presented their poems. The programme was attended by journalists, parliamentarians, civil society and educationist.

While addressing the gathering Bushra Gohar, MNA from ANP, said, ‘Malala is referred as agent by some sections because she is resistance to terrorists.  Malala is agent for change whatever she has done for the education it was primarily our duty’. She hoped that we will not fail her in future.

PPP Senator Robina Khalid criticised civil society and activists for not playing active role in campaigning for Malala. She said it is time to have a massive struggle so we could fight the menace of terrorism.

Secretary General SAFMA Imtiaz Alam said no progressive party has taken any initiatives for Malala, her struggle is being recognised all over the world but our national political parties are busy in their own business. He said state of Pakistan should have announced November 10 as official Malala day.

He also criticised religious parties on their negative comments about Malala’s incident. He said international community is coming forward to help us and now state of Pakistan should also take practical measures to increase literacy rate and also make policies for quality education.  President SAWM Fozia Shahid, Pakistan called for collective efforts to be taken from all segments of society to propagate Malala’s message to every nick and corner of country.

Tanzeela Mazhar, General Secretary SAWM Pakistan, read out the joint statement of SAWM and SAFMA to pay tribute to Malala and join the UN call for global campaign on education for all.

APP adds: International Human Rights Observer (IHRO) on Saturday organised a “First Malala Zindabad Convention” to celebrate “International Malala Day.

Former Federal Minister For Human Rights Syed Mumtaz Alam Gilani presided over the convention. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader and former ambassador Professor BA Malik, PPP leader Sheikh Mansoor, Dr Farzana Bari and Chairman IHRO Dr Khalid Aftab Sulehri were also present on the occasion. A large number of people from different walks of life attended the convention.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Secretary General of the United Nations Ban Ki Moon messages on Malala day were read out on the occasion. Special prayers also offered for the recovery of Malala Yusufzai by the participants.

Addressing on the occasion, Syed Mumtaz Alam Gilani hailed the United Nations’ decision to declare November 10 as Malala Day. He said that one postal stamp in the name of Malala be issued in recognition of her contribution for female education. He said that Malala diary should be incorporated in education syllabus. He said that the mission of Malala should be carried forward to promote female education in the country.

Speakers addressing on the occasion said that Malala Yousufzai is a symbol of courage against militancy and promotion of education in the country. They said Malala deserves noble prize for her great struggle against militancy. They also appreciated the step to celebrate Malala Day and said Malala Yousufzai is a symbol of courage for the whole world. The speakers paid rich tribute to Malala and other girls who are struggling for the promotion of education in the country.

Khalid Aftab Sulehri said that IHRO believes that it will be a great initiative to realise and implement the agenda of the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations adopted in 2000. He said IHRO will continue its commitment with the United Nations to promote and protect the right of education on each and every level for each and every child not only in Pakistan but in other parts of the world.

Dr Sulehri said IHRO has taken this historical initiative after the call and launching “I am Malala” website by Gordon Brown, United Nations Special Envoy on Global education. It may be mentioned here that IHRO is one of the human rights advocacy, research and monitoring national, international NGO which enjoys special consultative status with the economic and social council of the United Nations and working together with government.