Father of Pakistani girl killed in Texas hopes her death can spur reform

Abdul Aziz Sheikh, center, father of Sabika Sheikh, a victim of a shooting at a Texas high school, shows a picture of his daughter in Karachi, Pakistan, Saturday, May 19, 2018. (AP)
Updated 21 May 2018
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Father of Pakistani girl killed in Texas hopes her death can spur reform

  • “I want this to become a base on which the people over there can stand and pass a law to deal with this. I’ll do whatever I can,” says Sabika Sheikh’s father
  • US secretary of state Mike Pompeo offered his condolences in a statement, saying Sabika was “helping to build ties between the United States and her native Pakistan”

ISLAMABAD: The father of a Pakistani girl killed in a Texas school shooting said on Monday he hoped that the death of his daughter, who wanted to serve her country as a civil servant or diplomat, would help spur gun control in the United States.
Santa Fe High School, southeast of Houston, on Friday joined a grim list of US schools and campuses where students and staff have been gunned down, stoking a divisive US debate about gun laws.
Among the eight students and two teachers killed in Texas was 17-year-old Pakistani exchange student Sabika Sheikh.
“Sabika’s case should become an example to change the gun laws,” her father, Aziz Sheikh told Reuters, speaking by telephone from the family home in the city of Karachi.
Most Pakistani youngsters dream of studying abroad, with the United States the favorite destination for many.
Aziz Sheikh said the danger of a school shooting had not crossed his mind when he sent Sabika to study in the United States for a year.
Now he wants her death to help spur change.
“It has become so common,” he said of school shootings.
“I want this to become a base on which the people over there can stand and pass a law to deal with this. I’ll do whatever I can,” he said.
Students said the teenaged boy charged with fatally shooting 10 people, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, opened fire in an art class shortly before 8 a.m. on Friday.
Sabika was part of the YES exchange program funded by the US State Department, which provides scholarships for students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend an academic year in the United States.
Sabika loved her time in Texas, Sheikh said.
“She appreciated it so much. She was so excited to be there and to study and meet the people, especially the teachers,” he said.
Her family spoke to her every day and she had been due to return to Pakistan on June 9, at the end of the school year.
US secretary of state Mike Pompeo offered his condolences in a statement on Saturday, saying Sabika was “helping to build ties between the United States and her native Pakistan.”
Her father said Sabika had wanted to work in government in some capacity, to help her country.
“She would say she wanted to join the foreign office or the civil service,” her father said.
“The reason was that she said was there is a lot of talent in Pakistan but the image and perception of the country was really bad, and she wanted to clear that up.”
The US ambassador to Pakistan, David Hale, visited the family in Karachi to offer condolences, the US embassy said in a statement.


Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

Updated 26 June 2019
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Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

  • But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues
  • The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance

NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to reduce heightened trade tension with India on Wednesday, promising a renewed focus on negotiating improved trade and investment ties between the two nations.
But Pompeo, on a visit to India, gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues ranging from access to Indian markets for leading American companies to New Delhi’s demands for foreign firms to store Indian data in the country, and exports of steel and aluminum to the United States.
The two nations are “friends who can help each other all around the world,” Pompeo told a joint news conference with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar after they met.
The current differences were expressed “in the spirit of friendship,” he added.
The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance.
In particular, the sudden introduction of new e-commerce rules for foreign investors in February angered the Americans because it showed New Delhi was prepared to move the goalposts to hurt two of the largest US companies, discount retailer Walmart, and Amazon.com Inc.
Walmart last year invested $16 billion to buy control of Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart.
Just days before Pompeo’s visit, India slapped higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products following Washington’s withdrawal of key trade privileges for New Delhi.
Jaishankar, a former Indian ambassador to the United States, played down the spat on Wednesday.
“If you trade with someone and they are your biggest trading partner, it is impossible you don’t have trade issues,” he said.
India’s ties with Russia and Iran, both now subject to US sanctions, are also a sore point.
US pressure has led India to stop buying oil from Iran, a top energy supplier. The United States has also stepped up pressure on India not to proceed with its purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia.
The missile deal and Iranian oil were both discussed during their meeting, Jaishankar and Pompeo said, but mentioned no resolution of either at the news conference.
Earlier, Pompeo met Prime Minister Narendra Modi for talks at his official residence in the capital, New Delhi, and they exchanged handshakes in images broadcast on television.
“The Prime Minister expressed his strong commitment to achieve the full potential of bilateral relations in trade and economy, energy, defense, counterterrorism and people-to-people contacts,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, without elaborating.
Pompeo is expected to round off the trip with a policy speech hosted by the US embassy, before departing on Thursday for a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 nations in Japan.