Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

I'd like to be Pakistan PM: Malala

Pakistani student Malala Yousafzai is widely tipped to win today's Nobel Peace Prize.
Pakistani student Malala Yousafzai is widely tipped to win today's Nobel Peace Prize.
Pakistani student Malala Yousafzai is widely tipped to win today's Nobel Peace Prize.

A 16-year-old Pakistani schoolgirl who was shot by the Taliban for championing girls' rights to an education has said she wants to be prime minister of her country.

Malala Yousafzai, who, despite being widely tipped, missed out on the Nobel Peace Prize, was speaking during a television interview on a visit to the United States.

The teenager was left for dead in a failed Taliban assassination attempt after being shot in the head as she travelled on a school bus in the Swat Valley in October last year.

Malala touched on public rumours that she might win the peace prize, announced today, and said it would be "a great honour and more than I deserve" to win, but felt she needed to do more before she could truly deserve the accolade.

"I need to work a lot," she said.

In an interview with American news network CNN, she also said it was her hope to one day become Pakistani prime minister, admitting that she had previously considered becoming a doctor but felt she could help more people by going into politics.

Sitting next to her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai - founder of a girls' school in Pakistan - she earned applause and laughter from the audience when she then said: "I can spend much of the budget on education."

In a wide-ranging interview, Malala, who now lives with her family in Birmingham, recalled the shooting which nearly took her life but also restated her determination not to give in to fresh threats on her life by the Pakistani Taliban.

"I'm never going to give up," she said.

"They only shot a body but they cannot shoot my dreams."

She was so badly injured in the point-blank attack that her father was advised to prepare his daughter's funeral.

However, she made what close friends have called a miraculous recovery while her global profile has soared, with her first book, I Am Malala, becoming a bestseller after its release earlier this week.

At the start of the year she set up the Malala Fund, which awarded its first grant in April to put 40 girls from her former home province in Pakistan into schooling, saving them from a life of forced labour.

Her campaigning has led to countless plaudits and honours, including most recently the European Union's top human rights accolade, the Sakharov Award.

Malala first rose to prominence after writing an anonymous blog about life under harsh Taliban rule, which later her saw her targeted for assassination.

She was saved after a medical mercy dash which saw her undergo emergency neurosurgery in Pakistan, before she was airlifted to Birmingham's Queen Elizabeth Hospital for further surgery and rehabilitation.

The teenager, now a pupil at Edgbaston High School for Girls, has urged students in the developed world, particularly young women, not to take their studies for granted.

"I would like to tell all the girls: realise its importance before it is snatched from you," she said.

She said she enjoyed listening to Justin Bieber when she had been living in Pakistan, but now longs for the Pashto music of her homeland.

Later this month she is set to meet the Queen after being invited to a reception at Buckingham Palace.

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