x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Pakistan's young hero

Pakistan has done the right thing for Malala Yousafzai's family. But it is a mark of shame that she and her kinfolk cannot be safe in their own country.

Malala Yousafzai, the 15-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by Taliban militants because she used her blog to advocate girls' right to education, has been discharged from hospital in England. While she will be readmitted for further surgery, her condition has improved remarkably at Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

It seems likely that her family will stay in Birmingham well beyond her recovery period, as her father has been appointed education attache at the Pakistani consulate. It is a three-year position with a two-year extension option, meaning Malala will be an adult when his contract expires.

Staying in the UK is clearly the best option for the family, and the Pakistan government should be applauded for making this possible.

However, it is a deep indictment of Pakistan that the government could not guarantee the family's safety were they to return home.

Recent attacks on health workers - most of whom are women - giving polio vaccinations have also underscored an ugly truth: extremists who carry out acts of violence against those who work for progress and the common good now have the upper hand in many parts of the country. It is Pakistan's loss that Malala cannot return home.