National News

Two Pakistani girls shot; two different responses. For some, that reeks of hypocrisy

Posted May 20, 2018 11:28 a.m. EDT

— The comparisons with Malala Yousafzai began as soon as Sabika Sheikh was identified as one of the victims of the Santa Fe High School massacre.

Both are Pakistani girls:

One, Malala, was shot on her way to school by a militant in Swat, near Pakistan's border with Afghanistan.

She survived.

The other, Sabika, was shot by a fellow student inside a school in Santa Fe, Texas.

She died.

But, as many ruefully pointed out, that's where the comparison ends.

Will Sabika be the next Malala, asked Asfandyar Bhittani, who writes for the Frontier Pakistani blog.

"Nope," he said. "We all know Sabika Sheikh will be forgotten before next weekend."

After Malala was shot, her cause was taken up globally. She became the face of the barbarism of the Taliban, which didn't hesitate to shoot a child in the head to stop girls from attending school.

Today, Malala, 20, is an activist for women's education and the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner. (Malala hasn't commented on Sabika's death. CNN has reached out to her but has yet to hear back.)

"We sacrificed thousands of our servicemen so people overseas could be free and have an education and be rid of the gun-toting Taliban," Ranita Sharif, a teacher in Birmingham, Alabama, told CNN. "When we will be free of the gun-toting murderers here?"

At the root of the frustration is the notion that Sabika's death will do nothing to effect change in America's scourge of gun violence.

"Sabika died trying to get an education too," Asif Hussein, a Pakistani-American who lives in Atlanta, told CNN. "Will there be a Malala-like movement for her? Or will we just get more of the same - 'thoughts and prayers'?"

Sabika was one of eight students who, along with two teachers, died at Santa Fe High School on Friday. The 17-year-old was in an exchange study program. She was supposed to return home to Karachi for the Eid holidays.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi summed up the tragedy of her death. "Extremist activities are not limited to one nation or region alone," he said.

"They are an international problem."