Malala beams in reunion with friend

 

Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban, was all smiles as she met her lifelong friend who was injured in the same attack. She met Shazia Ramzan again for the first time at Birmingham Airport.

They were attacked on 9 October last year.Shazia, 15, suffered gun wounds to the neck and shoulder and Malala was shot in the head, and has been recovering in the UK

The two teenagers were on a school bus on October 9 when Taliban gunmen came in search of Malala, a vocal campaigner for girls' education.

Malala was shot in the head while Shazia, 15, suffered gun wounds to the neck and shoulder.

Malala was airlifted to Birmingham soon after the attack, but Shazia stayed in Pakistan and was unable to go to school because of continued threats to her life.

Living under constant guard, her education was virtually impossible to continue.

Now, following the recent surge of violence with last month's massacre of female university students in Quetta and the double murder of two sisters for filming themselves dancing, Shazia has been granted a student visa by the UK to fulfil her dream of becoming a doctor.

Shazia, whose family faced months of intimidation in Pakistan, said: "I am so grateful for the opportunity to study here and try to become a doctor.

"It's so sad that there are millions of girls around the world in my situation. I want every girl to go to school."

With support from the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown and other charities, including a scholarship from her new school, she has gained a place to complete her studies.

Her ambition is to return to Pakistan as a qualified doctor.

Shazia continued: "I wanted so much to stay in Pakistan and complete my education but constant threats made this impossible.

"I have already raised the issue with the Pakistani prime minister, calling for action for girls to stay on at school."

Gordon Brown, UN special envoy for global education, first spoke with Shazia when he visited Pakistan in the wake of the attack and has supported her since. He said: "Shazia is a remarkably brave young woman and I am delighted she can now safely complete her education here in the UK.

"It is an outrage that a young girl can be threatened, intimated and deterred from going to school.

"Shazia has told me that she is now more determined than ever to speak up for a girl's right to an education. Thirty-two million girls around the world don't go to school and we must stand side by side with girls like Shazia and Malala to change that."

Malala, who now attends Edgbaston High School for girls and has become a global icon for the right to education, last month launched a petition, at aworldatschool.org, calling on world leaders to find school places for the 57 million girls and boys who currently go without, including seven million in Pakistan.

Presenting the petition to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on July 12 - her 16th birthday - she will address a youth takeover of the United Nations in what has been declared Malala Day.

PA

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