Pakistan buries teen killed in Texas school shooting

Hundreds of mourners attend the funeral of 17-year-old Pakistani exchange student gunned down in Santa Fe massacre after her remains were flown home

Hundreds of mourners gathered in Karachi, , to bury the teenage exchange student killed in the Santa Fe High School mass shooting in Texas, U.S. last week.

Sabika Sheikh, 17, was among the ten people shot dead at a high school in Santa Fe last Friday when a heavily armed student opened fire on classmates.

Sheikh‘s body arrived in Pakistan on Tuesday night and the funeral was held at a graveyard near her home in Karachi in the middle class Gulshe-e-Iqbal neighbourhood.

Among about 400 people at the funeral was U.S. Ambassador David Hale and politicians from the provincial Sindh government.

‘This innocent girl had gone to brighten the name of Pakistan,‘ Amir Khan, a senior leader of the Muttahida Quami Movement party which forms the city government in Karachi, told reporters at the funeral.

‘But due to bad luck in a country that accuses the world of terrorism, she became a victim of terrorism herself.‘

The body was then taken to a public meeting ground where hundreds gathered to say prayers and pay their respects before the burial at a nearby cemetery.

‘My daughter is a martyr and martyrs don‘t die,‘ Sheikh‘s father Abdul Aziz said after the prayers. 

sits in an ambulance next to her coffin, wrapped in national flag, during a funeral in Karachi, 

Mr Sheikh has described his daughter as a hard-working and accomplished student who aspired to work in civil service.

‘I have no words to express my feelings,‘ family friend Mohammad Ali said after the coffin arrived at the family home. 

‘It is a great loss to Pakistan. She wanted to do a lot for this country.‘ 

Officials participating the ceremony labelled her killing an act of terrorism.

‘The whole nation stands by the Pakistani girl who was martyred in a terrorist attack in the US. May God give patience to her parents and family,‘ provincial governor Mohammad Zubair told reporters after the funeral.

Hours earlier, a Pakistani honour guard escorted Sheikh‘s casket off a plane at Karachi‘s Jinnah International airport during a ceremony overseen by government officials and US consul John E. Warner.

Sheikh had been part of the Youth Exchange and Study (YES) program, funded by the US State Department, which provides scholarships for students from Muslim countries to spend one academic year in the US.

She was due to return home in mere weeks ahead of Eid al-Fitr, the holiday marking the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

Despite strained relations between Washington and Islamabad, the US has long been a favoured destination for Pakistani students studying abroad, with thousands enrolling in American schools every year. 

Sheikh‘s death came just three months after another school massacre in Parkland, Florida killed 17 people, sparking an unprecedented grassroots, student-led gun control movement.

The shooting in Santa Fe was the 22nd such incident at a US school this year, according to media reports, a disturbing statistic in a country where firearms are part of everyday life and there are more than 30,000 gun-related deaths annually.