Arfa Abdul Karim Randhawa (ارفع کریم رندھاوا, 2 February 1995 – 14 January 2012) 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 in 2005. 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 United States.She died on 14 January 2012, aged 16, following a cardiac arrest (which is loss of body flow).
Arfa was born into a Punjabi family of Randhawa clan of Jat 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 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 in August 2005 from the President of Pakistan. Arfa is also the recipient of the President’s Award for Pride of Performance in 2005, 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.
Upon her return from the US, she became an icon in Pakistan. She was interviewed by various channels, was invited to various international conferences and summits and also received awards from the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan. She notably is also the youngest recipient of the Pride of Performance award in Pakistan. In 2006, Microsoft invited her to be the key note speaker at the Tech-Ed developers conference which was held in Barcelona.
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.
She was a prodigy who achieved Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) status at the age of 9.
Her achievement was recognized personally by Bill Gates, who invited her to Microsoft Headquarters.
She received the Pride of Performance award from the Government of Pakistan.
On 2 August 2005 she was the youngest to receive a first flight certificate from Dubai Flying Club.
She 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 received the Salaam Pakistan Youth Award in August 2005 from the President of Pakistan.
She received the President’s Award for Proud Performance, a civil award usually granted to those who have shown excellence in their respective fields over a long period of time; being the youngest recipient of this award.
She was made brand ambassador for Pakistan telecommunication Company’s 3G Wireless Broadband service, named EVO, in January 2010.
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 due 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
Arfa Software Technology Park is the Country’s largest Information and Communications Technology Park. This seventeen story building is the first international standard facility in Pakistan and it is located in Lahore. This project was started under the name “Lahore Technology Park” and On January 15, 2012, it was renamed as “Arfa Software Technology Park” by Chief Minister of Punjab, Mian Shahbaz Sharif. It was named in honor of Miss Arfa Karim who was the youngest Microsoft Certified Professional and died at the age of 16. Chief Minister Punjab announced to change the name of Lahore Technology Park in recognition of her achievements.
Arfa Software Technology Park (ASTP) will help share the Government of the Punjab’s IT vision with the IT industry and the general public. ASTP is a one-window operation to attract local software companies and foreign investors to start IT related businesses in an expeditious manner. This initiative of the Government of Punjab will surely bring technology revolution in this region.