MALALA Yousafzai, the Pakistani schoolgirl shot by the Taliban, has reunited with her lifelong friend who was injured in the same attack.
The pictures of Malala and Shazia Ramzan, beaming and hugging as they meet again at Birmingham Airport for the first time since the brutal attack last year, show the depth of their friendship.
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.
Malala, who now attends Edgbaston High School for girls, has become a global icon for the right to education.