Tragic Shooting At Texas School Resonates Thousands Of Miles Away In Pakistan
Sabika Aziz Sheikh one of ten killed in mass shooting at Santa Fe High School
KARACHI—Last Friday was supposed to be a normal day for Abdul Aziz Sheikh, a resident of the bustling city of Karachi, Pakistan’s financial hub. Following a day’s work, Abdul, father of three daughters, sat on his sofa to relax and watch some television. Meanwhile, his wife Farah, started preparing the break-fast meal observant Muslims savor after sundown each night during the holy month of Ramadan. Concurrently, Farah made a call to the family tailor to discuss designing a shirt for her eldest offspring Sabika, who was away on a student-exchange program in Texas.
Then, breaking news from the United States: A shooting was underway at Santa Fe High School, where Sabika was enrolled. Abdul immediately tried to reach his daughter by phone, to no avail. Pangs of fear befell him.
Two hours later came dreaded confirmation of what the Sheikhs already knew in their hearts, as a senior official stationed at Pakistan’s consulate in Houston announced that Sabika was among the 10 killed in the massacre.
“It’s hard to believe she has left us. It is a nightmare,” Abdul told The Media Line in a recent conversation. “We had made elaborate plans to celebrate her homecoming with a big bang.”
Sabika, who left Pakistan last August to pursue her studies, was due to visit her parents on June 9 to celebrate Eid al-Fitar, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan.
Sabika’s death sent shock waves across Pakistan, with masses of mourners swarming her family’s Karachi home. Pakistani Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi visited Abdul and Farah and grieving relatives Saturday to offer condolences.
“Sabika was a talented Pakistani student and the whole nation mourns her death,” he exclaimed, adding that “extremist tendencies are not the problem of only one country or region, but rather an international issue.”
David Hale, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan expressed regret over Sabika’s death and personally called the Sheikh family.
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Local media reports quoted Abdul as saying that he hopes his daughter’s death leads to gun control reform in the U.S.
For Farah, Sabika was so much more than just a daughter. “I have lost a true friend,” she told The Media Line, noting the long hours spent conversing with Sabika via Skype or WhatsApp.
“Sabika always spoke highly of Americans, their society, the teachers and above all the opportunities everyone gets in the U.S. regardless of nationality, race, and skin color,” Farah conveyed while holding back tears.
However, Sabika was cognizant of the fact that not all is ever rosy. “Mother, students here feel lonely,” she recounted to her mother during one of their talks. “This is perhaps because they are thousands of miles away from their families, loved ones. Even a classmate has tried to [commit] suicide.”
According to officials, Sabika’s body was set to arrive in Pakistan early Wednesday morning, after which prayers are scheduled at Karachi’s Gulshan-i-Iqbal’s Hakeem Saeed Ground. She will then be buried in the Azeempura cemetery in Karachi’s Shah Faisal Colony.
Sabika’s parents told The Media Line that their daughter wanted to be a diplomat in order to help build bridges between Islamabad and Washington.
“Now,” her mother questioned, “is there anyone to transform her dreams into reality?”