A life cut short

The tragic death of 10-year-old Sara Sharif in Surrey has put a spotlight on both Pakistan and the UK, where authorities are trying to piece together what happened to the young girl, who was found lifeless and alone in her family’s home one night. What is known is that Sara’s father Urfan Sharif, his wife Beenish, five children and his brother Imran fled the night of August 10 from the UK to Pakistan. Upon landing in Pakistan, Urfan called emergency services in the UK to inform them about a possible situation at his home address. UK authorities have informed police in Pakistan that Urfan is wanted for questioning in connection with Sara’s death, but the father, his wife and children are on the run. The brother, Imran, is now in police custody and claims the girl fell down the stairs and broke her neck.

The picture emerging about Sara in the UK, however, is grim. Child services in Surrey were reportedly aware of Sara, but British authorities have not divulged any details so far. Often, children are reported to social services when there is a concern for their safety or wellbeing. The account of one child who went to school with Sara, too, is chilling. The child’s mother told BBC her daughter claims that Sara had cuts and bruises at school, and that when she was asked about them, she said she “fell off a bike”. Soon after, Sara stopped attending school. Why was Sara being homeschooled? How did her father and stepmother treat her? And why is it that Sara’s biological mother, Olga, did not have shared custody with her ex-husband, Urfan? These questions remain unanswered. The fact that Urfan left his daughter alone and fled the UK overnight points to something ugly and sinister. Accident or crime, what happened to Sara Sharif must be known, and Pakistan must do everything to support the British authorities in their investigation.

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