Arfa Abdul Karim Randhawa was a Pakistani student and computer prodigy who, in 2004 at the age of nine, became the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP). She kept the title until 2008. Arfa represented Pakistan on various international forums including the TechEd Developers Conference. She also received the President’s Award for Pride of Performance. A science park in Lahore, the Arfa Software Technology Park, was named after her. She was invited by Bill Gates to visit Microsoft Headquarters in the U.S.
Arfa was born into a Punjabi family from the village of Chak No. 4JB Ram Dewali in Faisalabad, Punjab, Pakistan. After returning to Pakistan from a visit to Microsoft headquarters, Arfa gave numerous television and newspaper interviews. S. Somasegar, the vice president of Microsoft’s Software Development Division, wrote about her in his blog. On 2 August 2005, Arfa 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 the 113th anniversary of the birth of Fatima Jinnah. She also received the Salaam Pakistan Youth Award again in August 2005 from the President of Pakistan. Arfa 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. Arfa was made brand ambassador for Pakistan Telecommunication Company’s 3G Wireless Broadband service, “EVO”, in January 2010.
Other people who have beaten Arfa Karim’s record
- In 2010, a young Pakistani boy named Babar Iqbal became the youngest MCP in the world at the age of 13.
- On 6 6 March 2014 Subhan Ahmed Sheikh Became the youngest MCP in the world at the age of 12
- On 27 September 2014, Ayan Qureshi became the youngest MCP in the world at the age of 5.
Representation at international forums
Arfa 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. 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.
Cardiac arrest and death
In 2011, at the age of 16, Arfa 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 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 U.S. for care. Arfa died in hospital at Lahore on 14 January 2012, aged 16. Her funeral, which was held on the following day, was attended by the Chief Minister of Punjab, Shahbaz Sharif. She was buried at her ancestral village Chak No. 4JB Ram Dewali, Faisalabad.
Arfa Software Technology Park
On 15 January 2012, Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif announced that the name of Lahore Technology Park would be changed to Arfa Software Technology Park.