Nobel Peace Prize winners vow to help their countries

Pakistan’s Malala Yousafzai and India’s Kailash Satyarthi share 2014 prize

Joint Nobel winner Malala Yousafzai and her mother Torpekai at a press conference in Birmingham yesterday. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

Joint Nobel winner Malala Yousafzai and her mother Torpekai at a press conference in Birmingham yesterday. Photograph: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

 

Reaching across gulfs of age, gender, faith, nationality and even international celebrity, the Norwegian Nobel Committee yesterday awarded the 2014 peace prize to Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India. The award joined a teenage Pakistani known around the world with an Indian veteran of campaigns to end child labour and free children from trafficking.

Malala (17), the youngest recipient of the prize since it was created in 1901, said in a news conference in Birmingham: “I’m proud that I’m the first Pakistani and the first young woman, or the first young person, who is getting this award.”

She will share the $1.1 million (€870,000) prize equally with Mr Satyarthi (60) who is not nearly so widely known as Malala.

The award was announced in Oslo by Thorbjorn Jagland, the committee’s chairman, who said: “The Nobel Committee regards it as an important point for a Hindu and a Muslim, an Indian and a Pakistani, to join in a common struggle for education and against extremism.”

Mr Satyarthi said in an interview with NDTV in India: “If with my humble efforts the voice of tens of millions of children in the world who are living in servitude is being heard, congratulations to all.”

Malala said she spoke by telephone with Mr Satyarthi and that they agreed to work together to help the fortunes of children and to help their two countries overcome their differences, adding that she and Mr Satyarthi would invite prime minister Narendra Modi of India and prime minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan to the Nobel ceremony in Oslo in December.

Hostilities

Underscoring the hostilities the Nobel committee seemed to wish to ease, troops from Pakistan and India had exchanged artillery and machine-gun fire across their disputed Himalayan border in the days before the announcement. The most recent eruption of fighting has so far killed 11 Pakistani and eight Indian villagers, but by yesterday a lull had set in.

Malala was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for campaigning on behalf of girls’ education in the Swat Valley of Pakistan. She was 15 at the time. Since then, she has become a global emblem of her struggle, celebrated on television and publishing a memoir.

Malala was at school in Birmingham, England, where she has lived since being treated for her gunshot wounds, when the prize was announced, and was taken out of her chemistry class to be informed of the award.

News of the Nobel Prize inspired jubilation in the Swat Valley, as well-wishers spilled onto the streets and distributed sweets in a traditional celebration. “We have no words to express our feelings,” said Ahmad Shah, a family friend, speaking by phone from Mingora, the main town in the region. “Her efforts have been recognised by the world with this great prize. This is a victory for the people of Swat and of Pakistan.” – (New York Times service)