Father of Pakistani girl killed in Texas hopes her death can spur reform

ISLAMABAD, May 21 (Reuters) - The father of a Pakistani girl killed in a Texas school shooting said on Monday he hoped that the death of his daughter, who wanted to serve her country as a civil servant or diplomat, would help spur gun control in the United States.

Santa Fe High School, southeast of Houston, on Friday joined a grim list of U.S. schools and campuses where students and staff have been gunned down, stoking a divisive U.S. debate about gun laws.

Among the eight students and two teachers killed in Texas was 17-year-old Pakistani exchange student Sabika Sheikh.

"Sabika's case should become an example to change the gun laws," her father, Aziz Sheikh told Reuters, speaking by telephone from the family home in the city of Karachi.

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Victims of the Santa Fe High School shooting
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Victims of the Santa Fe High School shooting
Cynthia Tisdale 

Cynthia's brother-in-law posted on Facebook that she "planned on one day retiring and being a full-time grandmother."

(Photo: John Tisdale/Facebook)

This is Sabika, she’s a friend of ours and she’s an exchange student from Pakistan. Today, she was killed in the sc… https://t.co/oPGdU29Apx
A tough update to bring you. @abc13houston has learned Chris Stone was one of the students killed at Santa Fe High… https://t.co/jfGERVXh4s
Family confirms this is Angelique Ramirez, one of several people killed in the shooting at Santa Fe High School. 💔… https://t.co/wm2p2bG30V
Shana Fisher’s aunt Candi Thurman confirmed on Twitter her niece didn’t survive the shooting
The family of Kyle McLeod, a student at Santa Fe High School, confirmed to ABC News that the young man was killed during the shooting.
Kim Vaughn’s mother, Rhonda Hart, said in a Facebook post earlier Friday that her daughter was in first-period art class at the time of the shooting. Her family later confirmed to ABC News that she had died.
Jared Black had just turned 17 the week he was killed. His birthday party had been planned for Saturday, but now his parents must make arrangements for his funeral.
Substitute teacher Ann Perkins was one of two adults killed in the shooting. She was often affectionately referred to as “Grandma Perkins,” CBS Dallas-Fort Worth reported.
Christian Garcia, 15, loved riding Jet Skis and night fishing with his family, The Washington Post reported.
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Most Pakistani youngsters dream of studying abroad, with the United States the favorite destination for many.

Aziz Sheikh said the danger of a school shooting had not crossed his mind when he sent Sabika to study in the United States for a year.

Now he wants her death to help spur change.

"It has become so common," he said of school shootings.

"I want this to become a base on which the people over there can stand and pass a law to deal with this. I'll do whatever I can," he said.

Students said the teenaged boy charged with fatally shooting 10 people, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, opened fire in an art class shortly before 8 a.m. on Friday.

Sabika was part of the YES exchange program funded by the U.S. State Department, which provides scholarships for students from countries with significant Muslim populations to spend an academic year in the United States.

Sabika loved her time in Texas, Sheikh said.

"She appreciated it so much. She was so excited to be there and to study and meet the people, especially the teachers," he said.

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Aftermath of deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas
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Aftermath of deadly shooting at Santa Fe High School in Texas
SANTA FE, TX - MAY 18: Friends and family attend a vigil held at the First Bank in Santa Fe for the victims of a shooting incident at Santa Fe High School where a shooter killed at least 10 students on May 18, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas. At least 10 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High school. Police arrested a student suspect and detained a second person. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Students embrace during a vigil held at the Texas First Bank after a shooting left several people dead at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Trish Badger
A young boy prays during a vigil held at the Texas First Bank after a shooting left several people dead at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Trish Badger
People during a vigil held at the Texas First Bank after a shooting left several people dead at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Trish Badger
People gather in prayer during a vigil held at the Texas First Bank after a shooting left several people dead at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Trish Badger
SANTA FE, TX - MAY 18: Friends and family attend a vigil held at the First Bank in Santa Fe for the victims of a shooting incident at Santa Fe High School where a shooter killed at least 10 students on May 18, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas. At least 10 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High school. Police arrested a student suspect and detained a second person. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Two young girls pray during a vigil held at the Texas First Bank after a shooting left several people dead at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Trish Badger
People console each other during a vigil held after a shooting left several people dead at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Trish Badger
SANTA FE, TX - MAY 18: Texas Sen. Ted Cruz speaks during a press conference about the shooting incident at Santa Fe High School May 18, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas. At least 10 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High school. Police arrested a student suspect and detained a second person. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
Young girls place a rose on a table during vigil held at the Texas First Bank after a shooting left several people dead at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Trish Badger
Associate Pastor Clint Detroot (C) of Dominion Church, speaks as Texas Governor Greg Abbott (L) and Texas Senator Ted Cruz join mourners during a vigil held at the Texas First Bank after a shooting left several people dead at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Trish Badger
Students light candles during a vigil held after a shooting left several people dead at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Trish Badger
Mourners bow their heads in prayer during a vigil held after a shooting left several people dead at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Trish Badger
Pastor Lucas Campbell (C) of Santa Fe Baptist Church speaks as Texas Governor Greg Abbott (L) and Texas Senator Ted Cruz join mourners during a vigil held at the Texas First Bank after a shooting left several people dead at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Trish Badger
People gather during a vigil held at the Texas First Bank after a shooting left several people dead at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Trish Badger
People gather with candles during a vigil held after a shooting left several people dead at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Trish Badger
People gather with candles during a vigil held after a shooting left several people dead at Santa Fe High School in Santa Fe, Texas, U.S., May 18, 2018. REUTERS/Trish Badger
SANTA FE, TX - MAY 18: Texas Governor Greg Abbott holds hands with family and friends at a vigil held at the First Bank in Santa Fe for the victims of a shooting incident at Santa Fe High School where a shooter killed at least 10 students on May 18, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas. At least 10 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High school. Police arrested a student suspect and detained a second person. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
SANTA FE, TX - MAY 18: Friends and family attend a vigil held at the First Bank in Santa Fe for the victims of a shooting incident at Santa Fe High School where a shooter killed at least 10 students on May 18, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas. At least 10 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High school. Police arrested a student suspect and detained a second person. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
SANTA FE, TX - MAY 18: A bible,; rose and a candle sit on a table during a vigil held at the First Bank in Santa Fe for the victims of a shooting incident at Santa Fe High School where a shooter killed at least 10 students on May 18, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas. At least 10 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High school. Police arrested a student suspect and detained a second person. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
SANTA FE, TX - MAY 18: Friends and family attend a vigil held at the First Bank in Santa Fe for the victims of a shooting incident at Santa Fe High School where a shooter killed at least 10 students on May 18, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas. At least 10 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High school. Police arrested a student suspect and detained a second person. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
SANTA FE, TX - MAY 18: Friends and family attend a vigil held at the First Bank in Santa Fe for the victims of a shooting incident at Santa Fe High School where a shooter killed at least 10 students on May 18, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas. At least 10 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High school. Police arrested a student suspect and detained a second person. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
SANTA FE, TX - MAY 18: Friends and family attend a vigil held at the First Bank in Santa Fe for the victims of a shooting incident at Santa Fe High School where a shooter killed at least 10 students on May 18, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas. At least 10 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High school. Police arrested a student suspect and detained a second person. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
SANTA FE, TX - MAY 18: Friends and family attend a vigil held at the First Bank in Santa Fe for the victims of a shooting incident at Santa Fe High School where a shooter killed at least 10 students on May 18, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas. At least 10 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High school. Police arrested a student suspect and detained a second person. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
SANTA FE, TX - MAY 18: Dr. Leigh Wall, Superintendent of the Santa Fe school district speaks during a vigil held at the First Bank in Santa Fe for the victims of a shooting incident at Santa Fe High School where a shooter killed at least 10 students on May 18, 2018 in Santa Fe, Texas. At least 10 people were killed when a gunman opened fire at Santa Fe High school. Police arrested a student suspect and detained a second person. (Photo by Bob Levey/Getty Images)
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Her family spoke to her every day and she had been due to return to Pakistan on June 9, at the end of the school year.

U.S secretary of state Mike Pompeo offered his condolences in a statement on Saturday, saying Sabika was "helping to build ties between the United States and her native Pakistan."

Her father said Sabika had wanted to work in government in some capacity, to help her country.

"She would say she wanted to join the foreign office or the civil service," her father said.

"The reason was that she said was there is a lot of talent in Pakistan but the image and perception of the country was really bad, and she wanted to clear that up."

The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, David Hale, visited the family in Karachi to offer condolences, the U.S. embassy said in a statement. (Reporting by Saad Sayeed Editing by Robert Birsel)

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