Pakistani exchange student, Sabika Sheikh, was amongst the ten killed in the deadly Santa Fe shooting two days ago. A 17-year-old armed gunman shot several classmates and threw pipe bombs Friday morning in a deadly rampage through a school just outside of Houston. The suspect, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, was booked into the Galveston County Jail on capital murder charges. He was held without bail. This has become the unfortunate norm in the US, where school shootings continue to claim the lives of numerous innocent people, most of them children.

Some 65 school shootings of varying degrees have claimed uncountable lives since 2015. And, the recent 10 only add to a burgeoning number that is hard to keep a track of.

One of the first victims to be identified was Sabika Sheikh, a Pakistani exchange student at the school under the YES program.

Sabika, a 17-year-old from Karachi’s Gulshan-e-Iqbal area was studying in the US and was set to return to Pakistan next month for Eid. The YES program was established by the Congress in 2002. It enables students, mostly from Muslim majority nations, to spend an academic year in the US. Students live with host families, attend high schools, engage in activities to learn about American society and values, acquire leadership skills, and help educate Americans about their countries and cultures. Unfortunately, in Sabika’s case, she learned the truth about the devastating gun culture, which is at a rise in the US.

The entire nation is mourning Sabika’s loss.

These harrowing revelations make it even more disturbing.

The second amendment in the US constitution continues to arm ‘mentally ill non-muslims’. Guns owned by a father find their way into his son’s hands and result in the massacre of 10 people. Yet, the US is still not going to infringe upon the right to bear arms in order to protect oneself. Even if it infringes on another’s basic right to survival.

It has also resurfaced the age-old debate of what constitutes terrorism.

This cartoon makes all the sense in these senseless times.

How are thoughts and prayers supposed to help in ensuring similar events never happen again? Whether it is the US or Pakistan, leaders operate the same way. Tragedy strikes and they leave the people with hollow promises and the usual photo-op condolences. Merely upping security measures does not do away with the root of the problems. And condolences only go so far in supporting the victim’s families. In March of this year, a nationwide school walkout protest ensued in the US, calling for more effective gun control policies. Yet, change remains to be seen. But it must come fast if anything is to be done about the disturbingly high frequency of gun violence in the US.



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