Beyond symbolism: What Nobel Peace Prize means for India and Pakistan

The symbolism of the joint 2014 Nobel Peace Prize for a veteran Indian child rights activist and a Pakistani teenager who defied the Taliban to emerge as an icon of the girl’s right to education is compelling. The Nobel committee may not have envisaged relentless firing and hostility between the border troops of the two countries when they decided to award the Nobel to them, but the timing of the announcement has lent an extra resonance to this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. It has underlined the need for the two estranged South Asia countries to stop firing at each other, but to focus their energies instead on stamping out myriad social evils that hold up the enormous potential of their combined 1.4 billion people.
This is no time, therefore, for self-congratulatory spiel for both India and Pakistan. The struggle against poverty and multifarious forms of social injustice is only going to get harder if both nations persist in self-defeating, destructive spiral of mutual belligerence and recriminations. “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,” said Thorbjoern Jagland, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The Nobel Committee has sent a potent message across, and it’s time for the leaders and people for both nations to heed that message, carefully, and in their own national interests.

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