A 17-year-old Pakistani girl was among the 10 killed in Texas after a gunman opened fired in a high school on Friday. Sabika Sheikh, who was in the US under a foreign exchange program and wanted to “experience a new culture”, had often talked about becoming a diplomat in the future.
Eldest of the four children, Sabika, who prayed for world peace, hailed from Karachi and was due home in a few weeks. The Pakistan Embassy in Washington, D.C., identified Sabika as a victim of the shooting on Twitter and wrote that “our thoughts and prayers are with Sabika’s family and friends.”
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi also met Sabika’s family in Karachi. Expressing his condolences, Abbasi said extremism was a global issue, one not limited to a particular country or region. “Sabika was an intelligent student, and the whole nation is sad on her death. I pray to God to give the family courage to bear the loss,” he added.
Sabika’s father, Abdul Aziz Sheikh said that he learnt about the shooting in Texas while flipping through TV channels. He also tried to call Sabika and her friends, but no one responded. It was only when he reached the exchange program that he learnt about her death. “We are still in a state of denial. We can’t believe it. It’s like a nightmare,” Sheikh told The Associated Press. He, however, added that such incidents should not deter people from going to America and that the government should ensure the safety of the people. “One should not stop going for education to the US or UK, or China, or anywhere. One must go for education undeterred,” he said. Her body will arrive in Karachi tonight and her funeral prayers will be held tomorrow at a local mosque.
Meanwhile, hundreds of members of Houston’s Muslim community attended a service for Sabika. Her host mother, Joleen Cogburn, recalled Sabika saying that she wanted to experience American culture and also wanted to introduce Pakistan’s culture among Americans. Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said Sheikh continues to be a diplomat “because even in her death, she is pulling the relationships between Pakistan and the United States, specifically the Houston area, even closer.”
Nine fellow students and a teacher were killed after a 17-year-old student armed with a shotgun opened fire in Texas high school on Friday. Students and staff fled after seeing classmates wounded and a fire alarm triggered a full evacuation.
(With inputs from AP)