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

From Reza Sayah, Shaan Khan and Joe Sterling, CNN
October 17, 2012 -- Updated 1639 GMT (0039 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: 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

Swat Valley, Pakistan (CNN) -- 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.

The history of the Pakistani Taliban
Malala's recovery after Taliban attack
Pakistanis outraged by Taliban attack

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

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."

CNN's Reza Sayah and Shaan Khan reported from Swat Valley. Joe Sterling reported from Atlanta.

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