Oslo: When Malala Yousafzai, the world’s youngest Nobel peace laureate, receives the prestigious award in a ceremony in Oslo on Wednesday, she will share the moment with her three best friends, who were also injured when she was shot in 2012.
Shazia Ramzan, 16, and Kainat Riaz 17, are the “unknown Malalas”.
Two years ago, when a Taliban shooter climbed aboard a school bus in Swat Valley and took a shot at Malala, Shazia and Kainat were sitting with her.
Malala, wounded in the head, was airlifted to England for treatment. She woke up to a different life and never returned.
The world may have forgotten the other girls but Malala didn’t. Kainat and Shazia have been flown from Pakistan to Oslo for the Nobel ceremony. NDTV witnessed their reunion after two years, filled with tears and hugs, in a hotel in Oslo.
Kainat is still to recover from her injuries. “I am better now but when it is cold, my arm still hurts,” she told media.
Malala now goes to school in Birmingham in England, and has become a symbol of the fight for women’s right to education in her country.
But Kainat says back in Pakistan, every day remains a battle.
Bus drivers and taxi drivers refuse to take her to school; nobody wants to take a chance. Even stepping out of home is dangerous. Malala’s friends continue to be the reason for her life’s biggest campaign.
“I know I am not the lone ambassador for education in Pakistan. We are four of us,” says Malala. Her gesture has not surprised her friends.
“We know Malala would never forget us, she would never forget Pakistan,” said Shazia, who has travelled outside Pakistan for the first time.
The girls say they will return home after two days and when they do, it is with renewed resolve to carry on the fight for women’s rights and peace.