Last updateTue, 17 Mar 2015 2pm

Malala and Shazia: Two Friends, Shot by the Taliban, reunited in Birmingham

The above picture is the moment that Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai is reunited with her best friend, almost nine months after both girls were injured in a horrific attack by the Taliban in the Swat Valley.

Malala was at Birmingham Airport on Monday to welcome Shazia Ramzan, 15, who was granted a student visa to the United Kingdom where she intends to study medicine.

The two teenagers were on a school bus on 9 October 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 flown to Birmingham to undergo specialist treatment at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in the city. Her parents and brother have since settled in the area as well.

Following the attack, Shazia remained back in Pakistan but was unable to attend school because of continued threats to her life.

Her arrival in Britain follows a surge in violence against young girls in Pakistan; last month 14 female university students were massacred by suspected Taliban militants in the city of Quetta. 

Last week two sisters, who had filmed themselves dancing in the rain, was murdered by their own step brother.

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.

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 12 July - her 16th birthday - she will address a youth takeover of the United Nations in what has been declared Malala Day.

- Agencies



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