The fault in our star

Pakistan’s Sitara Brooj Akbar, the youngest student to pass O Level exams, hasn’t received any recognition at home owing to her Ahmadiyya identity

In a town that is always ringing with slogans and high on religious hatred, lived Sitara. Tiny and beautiful like her name, she had an unquenchable thirst to learn new things and phenomena around her. She grew up questioning everything around us. Such was the scale of her curiosity that her school teachers gave up on her, resulting in her parents quitting their jobs to open up their own school. She remained incurable.

She continued suffering – and questioning; until she achieved. A world record for being the youngest person to pass the O level exams.

Belonging to the minority Ahmadiyya sect, Muhammad Ali Akbar has seen a lot of difficulties in his life. Snatched away with the right to practice his religion, he got arrested in ’99 over a fake police case registered by the local MPA. A hostile country, with equally unfriendly people and daughter who refused to go by the conventions; he couldn’t have seen more.

Living in self-exile with his family, he is optimistic about a Pakistan that his forefathers aspired – a Pakistan that Jinnah envisioned.

Being a crazy mother of a crazy child, Mrs. Bushra Akbar has been the biggest support to Sitara. She faced her refusal to learn things through cramming very patiently and instead of forcing her into it. She realized her daughter’s extraordinary qualities and helped her through the process of making world records.

I spoke to Sitara recently. Apart from being a brilliant student, she is an excellent speaker.

Umer: So Sitara, tell me about your early life. How did you grow up to be such a bright kid?

Sitara: Before I was born, my mother saw a dream about a bright star that came very close to the earth, followed by a moon. I was named Sitara Brooj Akbar (The brightest star in the constellation) by a respected and noble lady; Syeda Tahira Sadiqa Nasir Sahiba. I came into being on the tenth of February, 2000 in a small town called Chenab Nagar (Rabwah). I am the eldest of five siblings; four sisters and one brother, the youngest two of whom are a set of twins all of them ,taught by me at home. At the age of five, I got admission in a local school and was the lowest ranked student in the school year. Soon, my mother realized that taking in information of any kind before understanding the whole concept was no less than a challenge for me.

Umer: After such a rough start, who motivated you into overcoming these hurdles?

Sitara: My mother taught tuition in the evening after coming back from school. She started teaching me along with her students, and discovered that my favorite was Chemistry and since then, my regular schooling became affected by my constant habit of questioning things with an adamant refusal towards cramming and eventually, I had to leave school. My parents decided to open up a private school for their daughter, quitting their jobs in the process. For a year, I went there but it would not quench my thirst for knowledge so that had to end as well. Meanwhile, I learned a lot of things, asking my mom around in the kitchen as she cooked. My grandfather, late Muhammad Aslam Nasir Sahib started telling me stories about Dr. Abdus Salam and Ms. Marie Curie and taught me to help others.

By the age of 6, I was fluent in spoken English, and it was then that I found my love for reading. My parents would travel to Faisalabad, a city about an hour’s drive from my town, to buy me novels and stories. This developed my love for reading which continues to grow still.

Umer: Can you walk our readers through the journey to achieve the feat no one has ever accomplished.

Sitara: I gave my O Level Chemistry at the age of 9. By eleven, I had completed eleven years of international education by appearing in Biology, Physics, English and Mathematics GCSE. I passed my International English Language Testing System (IELTS) in the same year and got an overall band of 7. I started writing to different universities for pursuing higher education and got responses, appreciating me but apologized on the matter of an admission due to my age. This was disappointing for me and disturbed my education. My Government that appreciated every kid achieving something even at a small scale, never paid heed to me.

Umer: What are your plans for the future?

Sitara: I have been interested in sciences since a very young age and am working towards fulfilling my dream to become a researcher in the field of biochemistry because it fascinates me. I’m looking forward to studying in a good university, taking the first step towards my dream of bringing a positive change in this world. Studying chemistry and biology in my advanced levels has been a great experience and has only strengthened my belief that this is the subject area that I want to pursue in the future. There are many mysteries unsolved and many cures yet to be found; I want to make my contribution to humanity through science.

Umer: You represent a very positive face of the otherwise hopeless and instable country. Did you get any support from the government of Pakistan?

Sitara: I thought that since the world had advanced so much, I would not go unnoticed; I created multiple world records for being the youngest O Level candidate, youngest IELTS candidate in the world and was appreciated by British Council too, who wrote a blog about me, included me in their written publications. I got international fame through the electronic and print media but got totally ignored by the otherwise active CM of Punjab.

Umer: Sitara, you have come a long way. How will you describe the role on your parents?

Sitara: My parents have always supported me, working day and night to fulfill my dreams. I owe all of my accomplishments to them.

Umer: What are your plans to work for the betterment of Pakistan?

Sitara: I believe that a life that isn’t lived serving humanity is not one that is worth living and I want to make my contribution to the noble and worthy cause of Pakistan Youth Forum. I will be serving as the Youth Ambassador for PYF and am the youngest working member of the team. I am working with the education committee and will be mentoring Pakistani students in schools here in the UAE, so that they do not have to fight their battles alone because a child without education is like a bird without wings. I will use this as a medium to further understand the problems. My contribution may be small but just because our work isn’t quantifiable, doesn’t mean it is not serving humanity and we should all try to make our contribution to this good cause. I’ll also be the youngest teacher, helping them with public speaking and English enhancement.

A girl so bright, with such positive ideals and aspirations is waiting for recognition. A kid who sees Naran and Kaghan even in Europe has been chased away from the country. Children of her age roam around freely, enjoying their lives, while Sitara couldn’t step out without two armed guards because it wasn’t safe.

Our state apparatus and general public need to give up on the decades old tradition of alienating and marginalizing religious minorities. It is about time we recognized their achievements and appreciated their efforts for representing Pakistan in a positive light. Otherwise, there are chances that stars like her, having been deprived of light, might get lost in the darkness.

We are using cookies to give you the best experience. You can find out more about which cookies we are using or switch them off in privacy settings.
AcceptPrivacy Settings


This Cookie Policy explains how Ahmadiyya Muslim Association UK (AMA UK)  Limited (“company”, “we”, “us”, and “ours”) use cookies and similar technologies to recognize you when you visit our websites, including without limitation and its mobile or localized versions and related domains / sub-domains (“Websites”) and/or our mobile application (“App”). It explains what these technologies are and why we use them, as well as your rights to control our use of them.

What are cookies?

Cookies are text files containing small amounts of information which are downloaded to your computer or mobile device when you visit a website or mobile application. Cookies are then sent back to the originating site on each subsequent visit, or to another site that recognizes that cookies. You can find out more information about cookies at

Cookies are widely used in order to make sites work or to work more efficiently.

We use cookies to enhance the online experience of our visitors (for example, by remembering your visits and/or page preferences) and to better understand how our site is used. Cookies may tell us, for example, whether you have visited our site before or whether you are a new visitor.

Cookies can remain on your computer or mobile device for different periods of time. Some cookies are ‘session cookies’, meaning that they exist only while your browser is open. These are deleted automatically once you close your browser. Other cookies are ‘permanent cookies,’ meaning that they survive after your browser is closed. They can be used by the site to recognize your computer or mobile device when you open your browser and browse the Internet again.

Why do we use cookies?

We use cookies for several reasons. Some cookies are required for technical reasons in order for our Websites and/or App to operate, and we refer to these as “essential” or “strictly necessary” cookies. Other cookies also enable us to track and target the interests of our users to enhance the experience on our Websites and/or App. Third parties serve cookies through our Websites and/or App for analytics and other purposes such as Google Analytics. In particular, we use forms related cookies which when you submit data through a form such as those found on contact pages or comment forms cookies may be set to remember your user details for future correspondence.

How can you control cookies?

You have the right to choose whether or not to accept cookies and we have explained how you can exercise this right below. However, please note that if you do not accept our cookies, you may experience some inconvenience in your use of our site.

You can set or amend your web browser controls to accept or refuse cookies. As the means by which you can refuse cookies through your web browser controls vary from browser-to-browser, you should visit your browser’s help menu for more information.

How often will we update this Cookie Policy?

We may update this Cookie Policy from time to time in order to reflect, for example, changes to the cookies we use or for other operational, legal or regulatory reasons. Please, therefore, re-visit this Cookie Policy regularly to stay informed about our use of cookies and related technologies.