Sep 16 - 22, 2002


People are four: He who knows not and knows not he knows not, he is a fool shun him; He who knows not and knows he knows not, he is simple teach him; He who knows and knows not he knows, he is asleep wake him; He who knows and knows he knows, he is wise follow him!. Afrah Shafquat, a small wonder from Pakistan, belongs to last category who deserves to be followed. Afrah born on August 25, 1990 stirred the world of Information Technology when she won the title of world's youngest Sun Certified Java Programmer (SCJP) on February 14, 2002 at the age of 11 years 5 months and 19 days. In recognition of her astonishing achievements, Afrah was given ITCN- Asia 2002 Commemoration Plaque along with her elder sister Afsah Shafquat on August 12, 2002 at Expo Centre by the CEO of Commerce Net Singapore. White Grammar School, where she is a student of 7th class also awarded her with a Gold medal. She is also the recipient of Incredible Award from Aero Asia Airline. Making strides right from the beginning Afrah created a national record for being the youngest student of any Pakistani University at the age of 10 years and 6 months when she got admission in Sir Syed University of Engineering and Technology to join Operation Badar. Afrah became the member of the faculty of Operation Badar after securing 76 per cent in the final exam of Java Programming.

PAGE: Nature is certainly kind enough to endow you with the brilliance of intelligence enabling you to stand out in the crowd, however there must be someone to provide you the guidelines behind all these outstanding performances given by you?

AFRAH: After the blessings of Allah Almighty, credit goes to my parents who always stood behind me to encourage and provide an environment to go ahead on the path of success. However the greatest source of inspiration was my elder sister Afsah Shafquat who entered the hall of fame only a year ago by winning the title of the youngest Java programmer in 2001.

PAGE: After gaining such an outstanding position in the much sought after field of Information Technology what is your objective to achieve in future?

AFRAH: My prime objective and efforts revolve around my country that is Pakistan. It gives me a great sense of satisfaction, pleasure and pride that my country has got the distinction of being the motherland of a person who has got some world class distinctions in the field of IT. I would like to mention an event held in Washington last year. There was seminar held at Georgetown University, Washington where Salman Ansari, advisor to the Ministry of Science and Technology shown the slides about me and my two sisters namely Isbah and Afsah to demonstrate that there is a lot of potential in Pakistan. All the people at the seminar were thrilled. It is worth mentioning that 6 Senators, 10 Congressmen, top business leaders of US and some Pakistani dignitaries including Dr. Maleeha Lodhi, Pakistan's Ambassador to the United States were present at the seminar. Salman Ansari as a part of his presentation had shown the pictures of the three sisters in almost 20 cities of the world in 30 presentations.

Such kinds of events certainly help transmitting a signal about the capacity of my country in the field of IT and its place on the world IT map. This certainly gives me a real sense of achievement that I am a small contributor in image building of my country.

PAGE: Being the youngest as well as IT professional, you must be receiving offers for scholarships outside the country?

AFRAH: Oh yes! I started getting such types of offers from different institutions, however my father Dr. Shafquat Mehmood feels that we should stay back till we got matured age wise and accomplish our academic targets at home.

PAGE: Would you like sharing your current activities with our readers?

AFRAH: Me and my other two sisters, all certified Java programmers, are seriously and zealously participating in all the activities of Operation Badar to promote IT education with especial interest to spread awareness in females and younger generation.

PAGE: The proliferation of information technology around the world besides making a visible impact on the world economy has also changed the entire complex of the education sector especially in Pakistan. Almost every second student is crazy to secure a degree in computer science or Information Technology. What you would suggest to the younger people having an ambition to join IT as their major.

AFRAH: Besides having a genuine aptitude for any discipline, the most important role is played by a strong foundation of education especially at primary level. In this connection I would like to make a special mention of my school "White House Grammar School" which really provided me the true and basic foundation to develop a noticeable academic career.