Shireen Karim moves to Walford as a teenager in 1988, and grows friendly with the Butcher children, Diane and Ricky. She and Ricky begin dating for a brief period, until Shireen's stern father Ashraf finds out and forbids her from seeing Ricky. Ashraf then decides that Shireen will enter an arranged marriage, and he humiliates his daughter further by requesting that Dr Harold Legg perform a vaginal examination on his daughter, to confirm she is still a virgin; Dr Legg refuses. Ashraf removes Shireen from the local comprehensive and puts her in a boarding school to keep her away from undesirables. Shireen dislikes it so much that she runs away announcing she is being bullied by racists, so Ashraf removes her from the school.
Shireen has a brief date with Trevor Short in 1989, but this ultimately leads nowhere as Shireen is betrothed to Jabbar Ahmed. Although Shireen is opposed to the idea of an arranged marriage, when she meets Jabbar she changes her mind. She falls in love with her suitor and is devastated when the marriage is called off due to the Ahmed family finding out about Ashraf's extra-marital affair with a white mistress. Before the Karims move away to Bristol, the women of the Karim and Ahmed families meet in secret, to discuss the possibility of Shireen and Jabbar marrying. Whether they reunite or not is not revealed, as the Karims leave Walford shortly after.