NEW YORK — A defiant 16-year-old Pakistani girl whose advocacy for education made her the target of a Taliban assassination attempt a year and a day ago told an audience in New York on Thursday she one day hopes to become her country’s prime minister.
Malala Yousafzai made her comments in an interview with 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, the 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.
She said Thursday her first thought was of two friends she was with who were also injured in the attack.
“If I was shot that was fine for me but I was feeling guilty that they have been the target,” she said.
The assassination attempt drew worldwide attention to the struggle for women’s rights in Pakistan. Malala addressed the United Nations on her 16th birthday, and she expects to meet with Queen Elizabeth II later this month.