Joint award lays bare long- standing animosity
Fourteen die in disputed border region as citizens from India and Pakistan honoured by Oslo
NEW DELHI — On Friday Prime Minister Narendra Modi said India’s military had shut up Pakistan’s army during the deadliest week of fighting in more than a year. A few hours later he congratulated citizens from both countries who shared a Nobel Peace Prize.
In splitting the award between Indian child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi and Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel committee weighed in on decades of animosity between nuclear- armed neighbours holding one- fifth of the world’s population. Analysts aren’t expecting much to change.
“It’s all very well for dogooder Scandinavian types to try to nudge them together, but it’s not going to mean much,” said Burzine Waghmar, a member of the South Asia Institute at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. “It’s just symbolic, with protocol gestures.”
The award came during a week in which Hindu- majority India and Muslim- dominated Pakistan traded blame for titfortat gunfire that killed at least 14 people, including civilians, in the disputed region of Kashmir. The countries have fought three of their four wars since partition in 1947 over Kashmir, which is divided between them and claimed in full by both.
On Friday Malala said she would like both Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Modi to attend the award ceremony for the peace prize in Oslo on Dec. 10.
“We want India and Pakistan to have good relations, and the tension that is going on is really disappointing,” Yousafzai said in Birmingham, England.
“It’s very important that the countries have peace. This is how they are going to progress,” she 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,” it wrote while declaring the winners of the annual prize in Oslo, Norway.
Past recipients included Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, former U. S. secretary of state Henry Kissinger and President Barack Obama.
Malala, 17, became the first teenager to win the prize, a recognition of her efforts to combat extremism after Taliban militants shot her in the face. Satyarthi, 60, is a children’s rights activist whose organization has rescued more than 80,000 children from bondage, trafficking and exploitative labour.
“Alone, Malala and Satyarthi are both great individuals whose work in education with young people links them,” Nikita Sud, an associate professor of development studies at the University of Oxford, said.
“But it’s too simplistic to boil down their identities to Hindus, Muslims, Indians and Pakistanis — and makes them part of their national jingoism, which neither have chosen to do.”
“It is a nice gesture, but I don’t think this will have any real impact,” said N. Bhaskara Rao, of the Delhi- based Centre for Media Studies of the prize.