Amid border tension, an Indo-Pak Nobel Peace Prize

Written by Agencies | New Delhi/Karachi/Oslo | Updated: Oct 11 2014, 06:55am hrs
NobelPakistan's Malala Yousafzai, India's Kailash Satyarthi win Nobel Peace Prize.
Reaching across gulfs of age, gender, faith, nationality and even international celebrity, the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday awarded the 2014 peace prize to Malala Yousafzai of Pakistan and Kailash Satyarthi of India, joining a teenage Pakistani known around the world with a 60-year-old Indian veteran of campaigns on behalf of children.

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The awards, announced in Oslo by Thorbjorn Jagland, the committees chairman, were in acknowledgement of their work in helping to promote universal schooling and in protecting children from abuse and exploitation. Pointedly, Jagland 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.

Children must go to school and not be financially exploited, Jagland said, adding: It is a prerequisite for peaceful global development that the rights of children and young people be respected. In conflict-ridden areas in particular, the violation of children leads to the continuation of violence from generation to generation.

Yousafzai, 17, became the youngest ever to win the prize. Satyarthi is a childrens rights activist and his Global March Against Child Labour movement, begun in January 1998, is now represented in more than 140 countries, according to Architects of Peace Foundation. Before the Global March Against Child Labour, Satyarthi founded the Bachpan Bachao Andolan in 1980 and has acted to protect the rights of 80,000 children.

Jagland said that Satyarthi has in Gandhis spirit mobilised public opinion, in India and in other countries. Its not a compensation for the fact that Mahatma Gandhi never got the prize, he said. I dont know why he didnt get the prize. But we should then appreciate that one who is taking up his tradition gets the prize.

Showing great personal courage, Kailash Satyarthi, maintaining Gandhis tradition, has headed various forms of protests and demonstrations, all peaceful, focusing on the grave exploitation of children for financial gain, Jagland said.

He has also contributed to the development of important international conventions on childrens rights, Jagland added.

Satyarthi dedicated the Nobel Peace Prize children in slavery. It's an honour to all those children who are still suffering in slavery, bonded labour and trafficking, Satyarthi told a news channel. It's an honour to all my fellow Indians. I am thankful to all those who have been supporting my striving for more than the last 30 years.

He has also been awarded the Aachen Peace Prize (1994), the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Award (1995), Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Human Rights Award (1999), and Parliamentarians for Global Action's Defender of Democracy Award (2009).

Despite his works, Satyarthi is not nearly so widely known as Yousafzai, who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012 for her 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 through her own memoir.

She has already fought for several years for the right of girls to education, and has shown by example that children and young people, too, can contribute to improving their own situations, Jagland said. This she has done under the most dangerous circumstances. Through her heroic struggle she has become a leading spokesperson for girls rights to education.

This is good news not only for Malala or for her family or for the people of Swat, but for all the people of Pakistan, interior minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan said at a press conference in Islamabad. Were proud of this small girl, who through her bravery and commitment, at a very small age has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

She has also won the Amnesty International Award, the International Childrens Peace Prize and the European Parliaments Sakharov Prize.