KARACHI: Last week, two women from Pakistan met in Oslo, Norway. They hugged each other so tight that it looked like they were best friends meeting each other after decades.
These women weren’t just any women – they were Malala Yousufzai and Kainat Soomro.
The world’s youngest Nobel Peace Prize recipient met Kainat, a rape survivor, on December 9, the day before the peace prize was given to Malala.
“It did not feel like I was meeting her for the first time. I felt like we had known each other for a while,” she said. “We hugged each other like two friends meeting after a long break.”
Their meeting which took place at a hotel in Norway was covered by the media. The two teenagers sat together and discussed serious issues.
Back in Karachi
Kainat returned to Karachi early morning on Monday. As she sat in her modest apartment on Garden Road, she said meeting Malala was like a dream come true. “Maybe next year, I can also win the award if I do good work,” she said. “Malala is a sweet girl. If she likes someone she will consider them family.”
The 19-year-old who was allegedly gang-raped in 2007 by four men in Dadu, wasn’t allowed to spend too much time with Malala due to security issues. A day after the ceremony, the two girls and their families met officials for lunch. “Malala told me not to eat the strange white fish. We both had the chicken and French fries,” she said. “She also tried to teach me some words in English and told me to keep repeating them so I would learn faster.”
The day Malala received the award, Kainat sat in the crowd along with two of Malala’s friends from Swat who had also been shot – Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan.
The girls first spoke to each other on October 18, when Malala called her up to ask if she was studying. “I told her I wasn’t going to school as I was afraid for my life,” she said. “Malala told me to hire a tutor who could come and teach me at home. She said she would support me.”
A week later, Malala called Kainat again. This time she asked her if Kainat had her passport handy.
“She invited me to attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo and I said yes,” she said. “The travelling expenses were paid by Malala and I left with my father for Norway on December 8.”
Despite living in two different continents with different time zones, the girls stay in touch via email.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 16th, 2014.