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Only education can root out extremism: Malala

IANS | Last Updated: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 18:19

London: Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl attacked by the Taliban for spreading the message of girls` education and who is among the forerunners for the Nobel Peace Prize this year, believes extremism can only be rooted out by educating the next generation.

In an interview to BBC World News, Malala said she intended to return to her home country, despite the danger.

"Dialogue is the only way to achieve peace and that extremism can only be rooted out by educating the next generation," Yousafzai said.

"I want to go back to Pakistan but first of all I need to be fully empowered... and to make myself powerful, I only need one thing, that is education, so I will get education, then I`ll go back to Pakistan," she said.

Reflecting upon her life in Pakistan`s Swat valley, the teenager said she was born in a society that didn`t value daughters.

"When I was born, some of our relatives came to our house and told my mother, don`t worry, next time you will have a son... For my brothers it was easy to think about the future, they can be anything they want. But for me it was hard... I wanted to become educated and I wanted to empower myself with knowledge," she said

Malala said her father Ziauddin was her mentor and biggest supporter.

"I accepted her as an individual. I did not treat her as a property. I honoured her as a free individual and I usually tell all parents all over the world - educate your daughters, they are amazing," Ziauddin said.

However, as the Taliban came to control the Swat valley in 2008, an edict was issued that girls would no longer be allowed to attend school.

"The Taliban`s punishments were like slaughtering people on the Green Chowk, throwing acid on women`s faces or abusing them or killing them.

"I was afraid of my future. And at that time there was fear all around us, in every street and in every square of Mingora. At that time I said if we want to fight against the fear, let us have courage and let us have power to speak up," Malala said.

Malala`s father, Ziauddin, was an anti-Taliban activist and had been approached by the BBC to find a schoolgirl to write an online diary. No one else would come forward, so he volunteered Malala, which shot her to fame and brought the ire of Taliban upon her.

"Becoming public meant everyone would listen to you then. That`s the simple reason that I spoke," she said.

Malala was shot in her head Oct 9, 2012, after which she underwent multiple surgeries in Pakistan and Britain. She was miraculously saved.

The girl added that she missed her home and friends in Swat.

"Here they consider me as a good girl, the girl who stood up for children`s rights and the girl who was shot by the Taliban. They never look at me as Malala, as their friend, and as a normal girl. In Pakistan, I was just Malala, simply Malala."

Asked about her expectations for winning a Nobel prize, she said: "If I win Nobel Peace Prize, it would be a great opportunity for me, but if I don`t get it, it`s not important because my goal is not to get Nobel Peace Prize, my goal is to get peace and my goal is to see education of every child."

First Published: Wednesday, October 9, 2013 - 18:19

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