Malala Yousafzai
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Malala Yousufzai in her hospital bed, with her father Ziauddin (second right) accompanied by her two younger brothers Atal (right) and Khushal (centre). Photo: AP

Shot teen activist Malala Yousafzai's family vow to remain in Pakistan

Malala Yousafzai's father vows to return home with his daughter despite risk of further attacks

The father of a Pakistani teen activist who was wounded by a Taliban gunman vowed the girl would return home after her medical treatment abroad, despite new threats against her.

Since being shot on October 9 in northwest Pakistan, Malala Yousafzai, 15, has become an international heroine, although her work of speaking out against the Taliban and promoting girls' education has long been known beyond her native Swat Valley.

Malala's father Ziauddin Yousafzai's comments were recorded by Pakistani state television before he, her mother and two brothers flew to Britain where she is being treated.

They arrived in Birmingham, England, on Thursday and went straight to see Malala at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital via police escort through the city.

At age 11, Malala started a blog under a pseudonym for the BBC about life under the Taliban in Swat. After the militants were ousted in 2009, she began publicly speaking out about the need for girls' education. She appeared frequently in the media and was given one of the country's highest civilian honours for her bravery.

A Taliban gunman shot her in the head as she took the school bus home in the Swat Valley city of Mingora. Two other girls were injured in the attack. The teen was airlifted to a hospital in Britain on October 15.

The Taliban have vowed to kill Malala, raising questions about whether it would be safe for her to return, but her father dispelled reports that the family might seek asylum abroad.

"I first laughed at it, because all of our sacrifices … or this attack on my daughter, cannot have such a cheap purpose," Yousafzai said in the interview.

He spoke alongside Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who promised that the government would protect Malala and her family when they returned.

Malik said Malala had asked her father to take some of her school books with him to Britain. "Even while there, she is taking care of her schooling," he said.

The medical team caring for Malala in Birmingham said on Thursday that she was comfortable and continued to respond well to treatment.

The bullet, which grazed her brain and came within centimetres of killing her, travelled through her head and neck before lodging in her left shoulder.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Shot teen activist's family defy Taliban's threats