By Muhammad Luqman
The funeral prayers for Sabika Sheikh, a 17-year-old Pakistani student who was killed in a Texas school shooting on Friday, were offered in port city of Karachi on Wednesday.
Strict security arrangements were made at the venue, Hakeem Saeed Ground, where a number of government officials and political leaders, including Sindh Chief Minister Murad Shah, Sindh Governor Muhammad Zubair and hundreds of Karachiites to bid adieu to the teenager.
Sabika, a Karachi teenager whose family lives in the upscale Gulshan-i-Iqbal locality, was studying at Santa Fe High School in Texas on a US State Department scholarship under the Kennedy-Lugar Youth Exchange and Study (YES) programme.
She was among 10 students gunned down on Friday inside the school by another teenager with white supremacist tendencies.
According to her father, Sabika — the eldest among three sisters but younger than her brother — was due to return home on June 9.
Her body arrived from the US early Wednesday after a Turkish Airlines flight carrying it was delayed due to bad weather. Her body was earlier scheduled to arrive at 9am on Tuesday.
Her father, Aziz Sheikh, received her body at the 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, according to English language newspaper Daily Dawn.
Airport Security Officials at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport presented a guard of honour to the slain teenager.
Sabika’s body was transported from the airport to her residence, where relatives, loved ones and neighbours converged to pay their final respects to her.
Sabika was described as a brilliant student by her father. She had completed her matriculation from Karachi Public School and had been an honour roll student at Santa Fe High School.
Even though she was still a teenager, her uncle said earlier, he was often amazed at how mature her thoughts were. “She often spoke about issues such as women’s rights and women empowerment. She would speak to her cousins and friends about these things, too, trying to open up their minds to issues and good causes,” he said.
Sabika’s maternal uncle earlier, Col Haider, said that the Muslim-American family she was staying with in Texas were the first to hear about the shooting, and rushed there immediately when they heard about the shooting.
“We were looking forward to seeing her back with us this Eid after she spent almost a year in the US,” he had said.
Her funeral prayers were earlier held in Houston on Sunday and were attended by the city’s mayor, members of the Congress and a large number of citizens.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi who visited Sabika’s home on Sunday to offer his condolences, said she had been a brilliant student.
“The entire nation is saddened by her death,” he said, adding: “Extremism is not the problem of any single country or region, but the whole world is affected by it.”