LAHORE, January 25, 2012 – On Friday the 13th of January, 2012, while winter’s second rain was amusing everyone in Lahore and offering a perfect setting for the weekend, clay ovens, tandoors, and roadside eateries, dhabas, in Old Lahore magnetized long queues of people, and takeaways and dine-ins at M.M. Alam Road were packed, the world’s youngest IT professional, Arfa Karim showed some signs of improvement. News channels constantly updated the status of Karim, hospitalized in
Public discussion, for a change, did not emphasize the memogate scandal, the Supreme Court’s verdict on National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO), exchange of words among political parties’ leaders, or for that matter, the flimsy state of Pak-US relations. Instead, the nation was admiring the achievements of a genius who became the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) in the world at the age of nine in 2004 and praying for her health. They also appreciated how Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, helped set up a special panel of international doctors to work with Arfa’s local doctors, as she could not fly to the US for treatment.
It rained again on Saturday, but it was not as pleasant as it was a day before. The rain that started off as a reason to smile turned into a symbol of gloom as Arfa Karim left her people for her palace in the heavens. Her demise is truly an episode of grief and sorrow for the nation as
On 2 August 2005, Arfa Karim received the Fatimah Jinnah Gold Medal in the field of Science and Technology. She also won the Salaam Pakistan Youth Award in the same month. The President of Pakistan awarded Arfa Karim the President’s Award for Pride of Performance, usually granted to people who have shown excellence in their respective fields over a long period of time. In addition to the accolades Arfa Karim received during her life, the country continues to pay her tribute after her death in many ways. The government changed the name of
Arfa’s intelligence and vision is not only evident from her achievement in computer programming but also from her interviews. In her interview with Todd Bishop, co-founder of Geek Wire, she said, “If you want to do something big in your life, you must remember that shyness is only the mind, if you think shy, you act shy. If you think confident you act confident. Therefore never let shyness conquer your mind.”
Pakistan, and the world, will always remember Arfa Karim not only for her achievements but also as a role model for Pakistan’s youth. These lines from her poem, ‘White Rose’ perfectly describe public sentiment about Arfa after her death: “I see not the white rose, she is so far away, but I long to protect her, but only the words can I say.”
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