Islamabad: The family of Sabika Shaikh was still in shock on Wednesday as hundreds of mourners gathered to offer funeral prayers for the Pakistani exchange student, who was killed in the Texas school shooting last week.
Sabika, seven other students and two teachers died when a 17-year-old student opened fire at Santa Fe High School on Friday.
Security arrangements were tight and about 100 police officers were deployed at the venue, where a number of government officials and political leaders, including Sindh Chief Minister Murad Shah, Sindh Governor Mohammad Zubair, Sindh Home Minister Sohail Anwar Siyal, and Pak Sarzameen Party chief Mustafa Kamal and others attended the funeral.
The 17-year-old was laid to rest at the Azimpura graveyard in Shah Faisal Colony in Karachi, Pakistan’s most populous city.
Sabika’s parents and siblings were counting the days until her return to celebrate the festival of Eid Al Fitr that marks the end of Ramadan.
She came home in a coffin, draped by a Pakistani flag as her body was flown back to Karachi airport in the early hours of the morning.
Sabika’s father Aziz Shaikh received her body at the Karachi international airport. US Consul General John Warner, and PSP, PTI, PPP, and Muttahida Qaumi Movement leaders were also present at the airport alongside her family members.
Airport Security Officials at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport presented a guard of honour to the slain teenager.
Trying to hold back his tears, Sabika’s father said the incident should not deter parents from sending their children abroad for education.
“If my children get a scholarship or any other opportunity to study abroad, I will certainly send them. If we let these incidents deter us it means we are promoting those people who want to stop children from receiving education.”
Sabika was described as a brilliant student by her father.
“My daughter was extremely talented and she wanted to devote her life to Pakistan.”
She had completed her matriculation at the Karachi Public School and had been an honours roll student at Santa Fe High School.
Sabika’s uncle, Ansar Shaikh, described the Texas shooting as an act of terrorism and implored the US government to take action.
“I ask the American government to make sure weapons will not be easily available in your country to anybody. Please make sure this doesn’t happen again to any child.”
Even though she was still a teenager, Sabika’s maternal uncle Col Haider said he was amazed at how mature she was.
“She often spoke about issues such as women’s rights and women empowerment. She would say herself that she was not interested in studying medicine or engineering. She wanted to fight for people’s rights. We were certain she would grow up to be a social activist,” her maternal uncle was quoted as saying by Dawn newspaper. “Who knew she had such a short life!”
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi who visited Sabika’s home on Sunday to offer his condolences, said “The entire nation is saddened by her death.”
“Extremism is not the problem of any single country or region, but the whole world is affected by it,” Abbasi added.