Posts Tagged ‘ Bill Gates ’

Remembering Arfa

By Ali Moeen Nawazish for The News International

It was 23rd March 2007, a bright and sunny day. I was sitting along with a fellow distinction holder in the waiting room at the studios of state-run TV. We both had this smirk about ourselves as if we had conquered some unachievable mountain and that we were “special”. After all we were going to be on TV. While we were waiting for our turn to get our few minutes in the limelight, walked in this little girl hardly 12 years old. “Hi, how are you? What have you done at such a young age?” asked my counterpart.

“I am the world’s youngest Microsoft certified professional,” she replied putting both of us to shame. That was the first time I met Arfa Karim. First impressions? Amazingly talented girl, capable of doing big things and absolutely confident and sure about herself. In the first two minutes you meet her, she will wow you with her charm and intellect.

I communicated with Arfa after that through email and Facebook in 2008 and 2009, and while we all know of her extraordinary abilities, how she could fly a plane and when she met Bill Gates, I wanted to share something that few people know about her. Throughout our conversations one theme was always recurring, she wanted to do good and help others. She talked endlessly about how she wanted to build a computer lab back in her village, how it was her dream to impart IT education to those who didn’t have access to it in Pakistan. She was well aware of the challenges that lay ahead of her and the country. I feel that somehow she understood the expectations that people had from her, but at the same time was taking it in a stride. She tried hard to ensure that the expectations don’t affect her own self-direction in life. She was also very kind hearted and a generous spirit too, whenever someone would ask her for help or anyone would refer someone to her, she would make sure she helped that person to the best of her abilities.

It is one thing to acknowledge one’s blessings and thank people for the love and affection that they show, but it is completely another to decide to dedicate a part of your life to give something back to the community and country that made you who you are. One thing she often spoke of is how some wouldn’t take her ideas seriously because she was a little girl. People would judge her ideas and plans by her age and not by their merit alone. About an idea for rural education, she wrote: “I myself have been working, or trying to work, for this objective. The problem here is that if I come up with plans, no one takes them seriously because I am a “14-year old kid”. My grandfather was a villager and we are still an agricultural family. I still retain ties with my rural background and so would be proud to be part of something like this.” A phenomenon perhaps often too common in our society. Yet, she always had the resolve to deal with it and find solutions around these problems, as any good software developer would. Arfa was a girl who was never going to let anyone stand in her way, no matter what it took.

By any measure of the word she was truly a gifted girl with her own little quirks that made her who she was. She wanted to get done with her O Levels long before the actual time she had to give them, because quite frankly she didn’t need more time. To one of our conversations in which I was encouraging her to take more time, she wrote: “To have more time was the reason I delayed it a little. Otherwise, I would have been finished with my O levels in this session. I was thinking that if I stretch it out too long, I might get bored with it in the end.” Perhaps the only person I knew in the world that would give exams early because she would get bored with the content.

It is somewhat ironic that I last met her this 14th August 2011 at another PTV recording. She had grown up, but only a little, had matured by miles. Yet, what was astounding and amazing about her was that her spirit was the same of that 9-year old girl who dared to dream big and think different. Her spirit was the same of that 9-year old girl who had made it a point to not let herself be captured by the notion of what is possible and what isn’t. As ambitious as ever and talented even more, Arfa was ready to take on the world in her stride. It is unfortunate that she was taken from us well before our time, but as with all great people God calls them early to Him.

Arfa, you will truly be missed and the youth of Pakistan has suffered a great loss today. May Allah bless you and your family. You were a good friend and a great inspiration. Your spirit and memory will live on in our hearts for as long as we live. The youth lost one of its best today, but you have inspired so many and we promise to not let you down.

Arfa Karim Zindabad! Pakistan Zindabad!

(The writer is Youth Ambassador of Geo and Jang Group. Email: Facebook:

World’s Youngest Microsoft Prodigy Arfa Laid to Rest

By Tariq Butt for The Gulf Today

Funeral prayers of the world’s youngest Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) Arfa Karim Randhawa, who passed away on Saturday night after protracted illness, were held in Lahore on Sunday.

The prayers, held in Cavalry Ground, were attended by Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif and her close family members. Her coffin was draped in the national flag. She was 16. The teenage genius suffered an attack.

She got recognition and became her a source of inspiration for young and old across Pakistan. Arfa had an epileptic attack on Dec.22 and had been in a coma since.

Well-wishers prayed and watched her progress closely.

On Dec.29, doctors said there was no hope for her survival, and that her life support could be switched off any time. However, she had then miraculously responded to certain stimuli, as recently as Jan.13.

Two more funeral prayers will be held for Arfa, one in Faislabad and another in her ancestral village where she is to be buried.

As Pakistanis mourned the loss of the child prodigy, President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani also expressed their grief and sorrow over the sad demise of Arfa. They prayed to Allah Almighty to rest the departed soul in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved family to bear the loss with fortitude.

Jamaat-e-Islami head Syed Munawar Hasan expressed grief at the death.

Muttahida Qaumi Movement chief Altaf Hussain said that Pakistan has lost “precious talent” in Arfa. He expressed grief at Arfa’s demise and has sympathised with the bereaved family members and prayed for Arfa’s soul.

Arfa became the world’s youngest Microsoft certified professional in 2004 at the age of nine. She was also invited to the Microsoft headquarters in the US by Bill Gates for being the world’s youngest MCP.

Gates had also offered to conduct the child legend’s treatment in the US, but the doctors advised against transporting her to the US due to the risk involved. However, the doctors continued her treatment in consultation with specialists in the United States.

Arfa had earned the Fatima Jinnah Gold Medal in the field of science and technology and the Salam Pakistan Youth Award in 2005 for her achievements. She is also the youngest recipient of the President’s Award for Pride of Performance.

She earned her first flight certificate by flying a plane at a flying club in Dubai at the age of 10, and was invited by Microsoft in 2006 to be a keynote speaker at the Tech-Ed Developers Conference, where she was the only Pakistani among over 5,000 developers.

Arfa represented her country Pakistan on a variety of international forum. She was also included as the honourable guest by IT Professionals of Dubai for two weeks stay in Dubai. During that trip, Arfa was awarded by a number of medals and awards from various tech societies and computer companies working in Dubai.

Arfa was a genius who had left an indelible mark on the international IT scene, winning millions of hearts in Pakistan and abroad for her excellence. The death of the child sensation had left millions of people, along with her family, relatives and friends, grieved over this national tragedy.

How Hosni Mubarak Got Filthy Rich

By Rick Newman for US News Money

There are no Mubaraks on the Forbes list of the world’s richest people, but there sure ought to be.

The mounting pressure from 18 days of historic protests finally drove Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak from office, after three decades as his nation’s iron-fisted ruler. But over that time, Mubarak amassed a fortune that should finance a pretty comfortable retirement. The British Guardian newspaper cites Middle Eastern sources placing the wealth of Mubarak and his family at somewhere between $40 billion and $70 billion. That’s a pretty good pension for government work. The world’s richest man—Mexican business magnate Carlos Slim—is worth about $54 billion, by comparison. Bill Gates is close behind, with a net worth of about $53 billion.

Mubarak, of course, was a military man, not a businessman. But running a country with a suspended constitution for 30 years generates certain perks, and Mubarak was in a position to take a slice of virtually every significant business deal in the country, from development projects throughout the Nile basin to transit projects on the Suez Canal, which is a conduit for about 4 percent of the world’s oil shipments. “There was no accountability, no need for transparency,” says Prof. Amaney Jamal of Princeton University. “He was able to reach into the economic sphere and benefit from monopolies, bribery fees, red-tape fees, and nepotism. It was guaranteed profit.”

Had the typical Egyptian enjoyed a morsel of that, Mubarak might still be in power. But Egypt, despite a cadre of well-educated young people, has struggled as an economic backwater. The nation’s GDP per capita is just $6,200, according to the CIA—one-seventh what it is in the United States. That output ranks 136th in the world, even though Egypt ranks 16th in population. Mubarak had been working on a set of economic reforms, but they stalled during the global recession. The chronic lack of jobs and upward mobility was perhaps the biggest factor driving millions of enraged Egyptian youths into the streets, demanding change.

Estimates of Mubarak’s wealth will probably be hard to verify, if not impossible (one reason dictators tend not to make it onto Forbes’s annual list). His money is certainly not sitting in an Egyptian vault, waiting to be counted. And his delayed exit may have allowed Mubarak time to move money around and hide significant parts of his fortune. The Swiss government has said it is temporarily freezing any assets in Swiss banks that could be linked to Mubarak, an uncharacteristically aggressive move for the secretive banking nation. But that doesn’t mean the money will ever be returned to the Egyptian people, and it may even find its way to Mubarak eventually. Other Mubarak funds are reportedly sitting in British banks, and Mubarak was no doubt wily enough to squire away some cash in unlikely places. Plus, an eventual exile deal could allow Mubarak to retain some of his wealth, no questions asked, as long as he and his family leave Egypt and make no further bids for power.

Epic skimming is a common privilege of Middle Eastern despots, and Mubarak and his two sons, Gamal and Alaa, were a bit less conspicuous than some of the Saudi princes and other Middle Eastern royals seen partying from time to time on the French Riviera or other hotspots. The family does reportedly own posh estates in London, New York, and Beverly Hills, plus a number of properties around the Egyptian resort town of Sharm El Sheikh, where Mubarak reportedly went after resigning the presidency.

Mubarak also spread the wealth far and wide in Egyptian power circles—another Middle Eastern tradition—one reason he incurred the kind of loyalty that allowed him to rule for a remarkable three decades. Top Army officials were almost certainly on his payroll, which might help explain why the Army eased him out in the end—allowing a kind of in-country exile—instead of hounding him out of Egypt or imprisoning him once it was clear the tide had turned against him for good.

That money trail, in fact, will help determine whether Egypt becomes a more prosperous, democratic country, or continues to muddle along as an economic basket case. Even though he’s out of power, Mubarak may still be able to influence the Army officials running the country, through the financial connections that made them all wealthy. And if not Mubarak, the next leader may be poised to start lining his pockets the same way Mubarak did. For Egypt to have a more effective, transparent economy, all of that will have to be cleaned up. There are probably a lot of people in Cairo who have been checking their bank balances lately.

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