Arfa Abdul Karim

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Arfa Abdul Karim Randhawa (Urdu: ارفع کریم رندهاوا‎, 2 February 1995 – 14 January 2012) was a Pakistani student and computer prodigy, who in 2004 at the age of nine years became Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP), the youngest in the world until 2008. She was invited by Bill Gates to visit the Microsoft Headquarters in the USA. A science park in Lahore was named after her, the Arfa Software Technology Park.

Arfa was born to a family from the village of Chak No. 4JB Ram Dewali in Faisalabad, Punjab. After returning to Pakistan from a visit to Microsoft headquarters, Arfa gave numerous television and newspaper interviews. S. Somasegar, the vice president of the Software Development Division, wrote about her in his blog. On 2 August 2005, Arfa Abdul Karim was presented the Fatimah Jinnah Gold Medal in the field of Science and Technology by the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Shaukat Aziz on the occasion of 113th birth anniversary of Fatima Jinnah. She also received the Salaam Pakistan Youth Award again in August 2005 from the President of Pakistan. Arfa Abdul Karim is also the recipient of the President’s Award for Pride of Performance, a civil award usually granted to people who have shown excellence in their respective fields over a long period of time. She is the youngest recipient of this award. In recognition of her achievement Arfa was made brand ambassador for Pakistan Telecommunication Company’s 3G Wireless Broadband service named EVO in January 2010

Arfa Abdul Karim has represented Pakistan on various international forums, and was invited by the Pakistan Information Technology Professionals Forum for a stay of two weeks in Dubai. A dinner reception was hosted for her there, which was attended by the dignitaries of Dubai including the Ambassador of Pakistan. During that trip, Arfa was presented with various awards and gifts including a laptop.[11] In November 2006, Arfa attended the Tech-Ed Developers conference themed Get ahead of the game held in Barcelona on an invitation from Microsoft. She was the only Pakistani among over 5000 developers in that conference

In 2011, at the age of 16, Arfa Abdul Karim was studying at the Lahore Grammar School Paragon Campus in her second year of A-levels. On 22 December 2011 she suffered a cardiac arrest after an epileptic seizure that damaged her brain, and was admitted to Lahore’s Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in critical condition.

On 9 January 2012, Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft, contacted Arfa’s parents and directed his doctors to adopt “every kind of measure” for her treatment. Gates set up a special panel of international doctors who remained in contact with her local doctors through teleconference. The panel received details about her illness and provided assistance in diagnosis and treatment.  Local doctors dismissed the option of moving Arfa to another hospital owing to her being on a ventilator and in critical condition.  Members of Arfa’s family have lauded Bill Gates for offering to bear her treatment expenses. 

On 13 January 2012, Arfa Abdul Karim started to improve and some parts of her brain showed signs of improvement. Her father, Amjad Abdul Karim Randhawa, said Microsoft had raised the possibility of flying Arfa to the US for care

On 14 January 2012, 16-year-old Arfa Abdul Karim died[21] at 9:50 PM (Pakistan Standard Time) at Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Lahore. Her Namaz-e-Janaza was offered in Cavalry Ground Lahore at 10 AM on 15 January 2012, then at 2:00pm in D Ground Faisalabad, and later in her village Chak Ram Divali at 4:00 pm the same day. The funeral was attended by the Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif. She was buried at her ancestral village Chak No. 4JB Ram Dewali, Faisalabad.

On 15 January 2012, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced that the name of Lahore Technology Park would be changed to Arfa Software Technology Park.