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My dream is to see India and Pakistan become 'true good friends': Malala Yousafzai

Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for girls education who miraculously survived a bullet to the head from the militant Taliban in October 2012, said the news of internet shutdown and arrests of activists "protesting peacefully" in India is "worrying" and expressed the hope that the government will make sure that people are heard.

February 28, 2021 / 07:16 PM IST
Malala Yousafzai

Malala Yousafzai

The old philosophy of having borders and divisions doesn't work anymore and the people in India and Pakistan wantto live in peace, Nobel laureate Malala Yousafzai said on Sunday, stressing that it is her dream to see the two countries become "good friends". She also said that minorities need protection in every country, be it Pakistan or India, adding that the issue is not related to religion but to the "exploitation of power" and must be taken seriously.

Yousafzai, a Pakistani activist for girls education who miraculously survived a bullet to the head from the militant Taliban in October 2012, said the news of internet shutdown and arrests of activists "protesting peacefully" in India is "worrying" and expressed the hope that the government will make sure that people are heard. "It is my dream to see India and Pakistan become true good friends and that we can visit each other's countries. You can continue to watch Pakistani dramas, we can continue to watch Bollywood movies and enjoy cricket matches," the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner said.

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She was speaking on her book "I Am Malala: The Story of the Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban" on the concluding day of the Jaipur Literature Festival (JLF) which is being held in the virtual mode. "You are Indian and I am Pakistani and we are completely fine, then why is this hatred created between us? This old philosophy of borders, divisions and divide and conquer… they just don't work anymore, as humans we all want to live in peace," she said.

The actual enemy of India and Pakistan is "poverty, discrimination and inequality" and both countries should unite and fight them, not each other, she added. Apart from "India-Pakistan friendship", Yousufzai said she also dreams of the day when every girl would get to go to school and have access to quality education.

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The 23-year-old activist also raised her voice for minorities across the world and said they are at "risk" and need to be protected globally by governments and human rights organisations. "Minorities are at risk. Minorities' rights are not given to them. Be it Hindus and Christians in Pakistan, Muslims, Dalits and other minorities in India … Palestinians, Rohingya refugees. It is not religion, it is the exploitation of power, it is just elites vs the poor and minorities.

"Minorities need protection globally from every country. They need a voice, need protection, and it is a reminder to governments, to human rights organisations to take this very seriously," she noted. During the discussion, she also applauded Indian girls and young women fighting for human rights, "speaking out" for farmers in India, climate change and protection of the minority rights, and called their work "empowering and inspiring".

However, the news of the internet shutdown and arrests of activists protesting peacefully in India is "worrying", she claimed. ".. You may not like their political opinion but it does not mean that you put them in jails and arrest them. It is a democratic right of every individual — including women and girls — to highlight their political opinions… So I hope that the government makes sure that people can protest peacefully and ask for their rights, and that they are heard," she added.

The 14th edition of JLF featured over 300 speakers and performers representing around 25 Indian and 18 international languages and over 23 nationalities. Some of the big names who made it to the festival this year included American linguist Noam Chomsky, 2020 Booker Prize winner Douglas Stuart, Nobel Laureates Joseph Stiglitz, Microsoft Corporation co-founder Bill Gates, and actor-author Priyanka Chopra.
PTI

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