In the memory of Arfa Karim – A certified Genius
Just as there are millions of stars flecking the sky we are so accustomed to seeing every day, there are also those that reside in the same world we inhabit. In the form of noteworthy human beings, they leave an everlasting mark in the history of mankind, one that remains forever etched in our minds, even when the individual has departed this world.
On 14th January 2012, the entirety of Pakistan mourned the loss of one such irreplaceable gem: one certified genius by the name of Arfa Karim.
A prodigy in the making, she was born to a Punjabi family from Ram Diwali in the Faisalabad District of Pakistan.
Even as a child, her ardent and inquisitive nature gave her a distinguished persona. It even paved the path to writing her first poem at the age of five. This spirit of inquiry did not lessen by any means as she grew up but instead was what first led her to get her very own desktop computer to sate her curiosity upon coming across one in school premises, but not being able to access it due to school policy. At the tender age of 8, through nothing but her experimentation and hit and trial methods, she had mastered the basics.
Just a year after that, in 2004, she became the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) upon receiving her certification. Not only was she invited to meet the well renowned and eminent Bill Gates, the co-founder of Microsoft Cooperation, but she also made her debut in the Guinness Book of World Records for this uncanny accomplishment.
When she arrived back in Pakistan, her achievements had elevated her name to such a degree that she became akin to an icon resulting in talk shows and news report channels of all sorts hastening to interview her. In August 2005, her caliber merited her to be bestowed the Fatimah Jinnah Gold Medal in Science and Technology by the Prime Minister of Pakistan Shaukat Aziz. Moreover, in the same year, she came to possess two more distinctions under her belt – the Salaam Pakistan Youth Award and the Award for Pride of Performance – the latter for which she was the youngest recipient ever.
Her heightening reputation and discernable prowess also prompted Microsoft to invite her to be the keynote speaker at the Tech-Ed developers’ conference held in Barcelona in which she was the only Pakistani among five thousand other individuals from differing parts of the world. She had the honor of representing Pakistan in other international summits as well and was invited by the Pakistan Information Technology Professionals Forum to Dubai for a two-week stay.
However, much to everyone’s sorrow, her time on this planet was not meant to last long. On 22nd December 2012, she got afflicted with an epileptic seizure that ultimately resulted in a cardiac attack and damaged her brain.
She was studying for her A levels at that time in Lahore Grammar School. She was admitted to Lahore’s Combined Military Hospital (CMH) the same day, and she remained there in a grave condition. Bill Gates established close contact with her parents and also appointed a panel of international doctors to stay in touch with the local doctors in charge of her to provide aid in diagnosing and treating her. There were even arrangements for an air ambulance so that she could be transported to the USA and receive medical care there.
Sadly, even the most tenacious of people succumb to the call of death, and she was no exception. The 14th of January 2012 witnessed the loss of 16-year-old Arfa, whose legacy was such that it remains ripe in our minds to this day.
She had always been a vibrant, empathetic, and kind spirit, and she always strived to put others first. In her revered footsteps, the Arfa Karim Foundation was established in July 2012 by her parents, who were determined to carry out her dreams to fruition to serve and support the community of Pakistan. Arfa Software Technology Park, renamed as Lahore Technology Park, is the country’s largest Information and Communications Technology Park situated in Lahore. It serves to accentuate her legacy and commemorate her person: a young girl who left the populace reeling in awe with her expertise and brilliance.