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Pakistani girl, 16, survivor of Taliban, visits U.S.

NEW YORK — A defiant 16-year-old Pakistani girl whose advocacy for education made her the target of a Taliban assassination attempt a year ago told an audience in New York on Thursday she hopes to one day become her country's prime minister.

Malala Yousafzai was interviewed by CNN's chief international correspondent Christiane Amanpour. She spoke a few hours after she was awarded Europe's top human rights prize and on the eve of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize, for which she is considered a likely contender.

Asked if she wanted to be a doctor or a politician, Malala said she initially wanted to be a doctor but had learned she could help more people as prime minister.

"I can spend much of the budget on education," Malala said to applause and laughter as she sat next to her father, human rights activist Ziauddin Yousafzai, founder of an all-girls school in Pakistan.

In a wide-ranging interview to be broadcast Sunday, Malala recounted the moment she was shot while sitting in the back of a vehicle traveling home from school and reiterated that she was not intimidated by threats.

"I'm never going to give up," Malala said when asked about repeated death threats made against her by the Taliban.

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

On Oct. 9, 2012, a masked gunman jumped into a pickup truck taking girls home from the school and shouted "who is Malala" before shooting her in the head.

Her father asked his brother-in-law to prepare a coffin. But Malala woke up a week later at a hospital in Birmingham, England, and gradually regained her sight and her voice. The family now lives in Birmingham.

The world's horrified reaction to the attack led to creation of Malala Fund, which campaigns for girls' education around the world. Malala has received multiple awards, including the $65,000 Sakharov Award, bestowed just hours before her interview.

Malala spoke passionately Thursday against forced marriages and denial of education to girls and boys throughout the world.

She urged young girls in the developed world to take advantage of their education — and to do their homework and be kind to their teachers.

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

Pakistani girl, 16, survivor of Taliban, visits U.S. 10/10/13 [Last modified: Thursday, October 10, 2013 11:30pm]
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