Girl shot with Malala: Memory of attack 'still in my head'

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Story highlights

  • Hospital says Malala Yousufzai remains in stable condition
  • Kainat Ahmad, who was shot with the Pakistani teen, spoke with CNN from her hospital bed
  • "Stay ambitious," Kainat says to other girls
  • She says Malala was "good friends" with all

After the Pakistani Taliban shot her along with Malala Yousufzai, Kainat Ahmad couldn't sleep for two days.

By now, millions around the world know how 14-year-old Malala and her classmates were attacked in their school van in the Swat Valley, a bastion of traditional Muslim practices in Pakistan.

Malala: A global symbol, but still just a kid

Her attackers have vowed to kill Malala for demanding education for girls. Now she's fighting for her life at an English hospital, listed in stable condition Wednesday and unable to speak.

But lesser-known Kainat can, and she shared her story in an exclusive interview.

Speaking from her hospital room in Mingora, the 16-year-old described her startled reaction and lingering fears over the attack.

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Kainat, who was shot in the upper right arm, displayed a thoughtful demeanor as she chatted with CNN journalists

    She vocalized what her friend Malala long preached: Girls, go to school and study, an idea violently opposed by the Taliban.

    Read more: Standing with Malala

    "I want to tell all the girls to continue their mission to get an education," Kainat said Tuesday.

    "Girls' education here is more important than boys' because boys can do any sort of work. However, girls can't just do any sort of job. Girls must have respectful jobs so that they can feel secure."

    The 10th-grader toughed out the ordeal. She said she has no regrets about defying a group that wants to stop girls from learning.

    "God willing, I will continue my education," she said.

    The attack occurred on October 9. Attention has focused on Malala because the Taliban targeted her over activism.

    The shooting prompted an unusually strong and united reaction of disgust and anger in Pakistan and other countries. Rallies supporting Malala have spread nationwide.

    Anger has been directed toward the Pakistani Taliban, the extremist group that has claimed responsibility for the shooting and said it will seek to kill Malala if she recovers from her injuries.

    Read more: Attack on Pakistani schoolgirl galvanizes anti-Taliban feeling

    The group, which operates in northwestern Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan, has fallen out of favor for such attacks. A 2009 video that emerged of the flogging of a teenage girl in the Swat Valley enraged Pakistanis.

    Kainat appreciated attention from hospital visitors -- from reporters to government officials -- and was gratified to emphasize the need for girls' education.

    "I can't believe what's happened, but I am happy everyone is here to see me," she said.

    She can remember just a snippet of the attack. She said she was talking to her friend about an Urdu-language exam when a male approached.

    "He asked, 'Who is Malala?' When someone told him, he started firing. Sir, because of this, Malala suddenly fell," she said.

    Kainat, who fainted during the attack, couldn't describe the shooter.

    Read more: Millions of children face Malala's fight for education

    "I didn't see anything," she said. "I just heard the gunshots. I don't know what happened. I just passed out."

    She woke up in an emergency room. It has since dawned on her that the incident has gone viral, with people across the world viewing defiant female Pakistani students like her and Malala as heroic.

    So far, the terror hasn't worn off as she recovers from her wound.

    "I want to tell you that when I think about what happened, it's still in my head and sometimes it's terrifying," she said. The attackers shot a third girl, who also survived.

    Kainat's remarks focus on Malala and her classmates. She hopes other girls "stay ambitious in their studies."

    A spokesman for the Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham said Wednesday that Malala "continued to impress doctors by responding well to her care."

    Kainat wants Malala to recover.

    "She was good friends with everyone," Kainat said. "I hope Malala gets better as soon as possible and comes back to her country and joins us at school again."

        Malala's battle

      • A copy of the memoirs of Pakistani child activist Malala Yousafzai is pictured in a bookstore in Islamabad on October 8, 2013. Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai tells of the moment she was shot by the Taliban for campaigning for girls' education in her new autobiography out on October 8, amid speculation that she may be about to become the youngest ever winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. Co-written with British journalist Christina Lamb, 'I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and was Shot by the Taliban' tells of the 16-year-old's terror as two gunmen boarded her schoolbus on October 9, 2012 and shot her in the head.

        The teen blogger simply wanted an education. But she became a symbol of defiance against militants, empowering young women worldwide.
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        More than three million girls are out of school in Pakistan, while spending on education has decreased to 2.3 percent of GDP in 2010.
      • Malala Yousafzai, the 16-year-old Pakistani advocate for girls education who was shot in the head by the Taliban in 2012, officially opens The Library of Birmingham in Birmingham, central England, on September 3, 2013.

        The Pakistani Taliban issues a new death threat against Malala, who turns the other cheek.
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        Hundreds of messages from around the world were received by CNN for Malala Yousufzai, the Pakistani teen activist attacked by the Taliban.
      • Pakistani NGOs activists carry placards as they shout slogans at an event on International Human Rights Day in Lahore on December 10, 2012.

        Pakistan has a new heroine and a new cause -- a girl's right to education. Now the government vows to get every child into school by end 2015.