Skip to main content

The Globe and Mail

On Malala Day, teen activist’s friends still haunted by attack

Children of supporters of the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) party hold potraits of Malala Yousufzai in Karachi November 10, 2012. UN officials declared "Malala Day" one month after 15-year-old Malala Yousufzai and two of her classmates were shot by the Pakistan Taliban. She had been targeted for speaking out against the insurgency.


The two schoolgirls wounded in a Taliban murder attempt on teenage Pakistani activist Malala Yousafzai said Saturday they were still haunted by the memory of the bloody attack.

Kainaat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan were injured when Islamist gunmen attacked their school bus in a bid to kill Malala for the "crime" of promoting girls' education.

Speaking to AFP on the UN-declared "Malala Day" of global action to support the young campaigner and call for better schooling for girls, 16-year-old Riaz said the October 9 attack still made her afraid.

Story continues below advertisement

"I am still terrified. I still get tears in my eyes whenever I think of that incident. I saw Malala in the pool of blood in front of me with my eyes," she told AFP at her home in Mingora, the town in northwestern Swat Valley where the attack took place.

Malala's courage and determination has made her an inspiration for millions and Riaz said she was pleased that despite the Taliban's bid to silence the 15-year-old, Malala's message was being heard around the world.

"She always said that we should do something for girls' education and she did not care about her own life when she was doing this," she said.

Ramzan, 13, said the friends had been chatting and joking as usual on the bus when the militants opened fire and she still feels "terrorized" when she remembers it.

"I am proud that I am her close friend and the whole world is commemorating international day for her, but I would be much happier if she was here with us today," she told AFP.

She said the Taliban attack had made her even more determined to go to school.

"The shooting tried to stop us from getting an education – it was our test and we must pass it," she said

Story continues below advertisement

UN education special envoy Gordon Brown, in Pakistan to launch efforts to help the government boost education, phoned Riaz and Ramzan on Saturday.

In Mingora, security concerns meant Malala's schoolmates could not hold a public demonstration for her, but they marked the UN day with a special assembly and prayers.

"My message on this day for Malala is that the whole nation is praying for her and she will be among us very soon," Riaz said.

Report an error
As of December 20, 2017, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles as we switch to a new provider. We are behind schedule, but we are still working hard to bring you a new commenting system as soon as possible. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to