Pakistan’s medical fraternity plea re: the tragic death of Dr Aftab Qureshi and SayNoToWeapons

Dr Aftab Qureshi: Another life snuffed out

Received via email, a doctor’s heartfelt plea about the tragic death of his colleague, the eminent neurosurgeon Dr Aftab Qureshi who had been kidnapped and was killed during a rescue operation that also claimed the lives of two security personnel, followed by citizen activist Naeem Sadiq’s note about his “Say No to Weapons” campaign. Unless police are properly trained, equipped, empowered, de-politicised and allowed to tackle crime at the local levels, with successful prosecutions, there’s no winning ‘war on terror’.

The President,
The Prime Minister,
The Chief Justice,
Islamic Republic of Pakistan

A plea from the medical fraternity over the brutal murder of Prof. Aftab Qureshi, Professor of Neurosurgery at Liaqat University of Medical & Health Sciences (LUMHS) Jamshoro.

A day in the life of a Pakistani citizen is full of abnormal tensions and crisis ranging from power outages, inflation, basic survival, kidnapping and brutal executions. We leave our homes in the morning not knowing if we will be able to make it back home. Each day is another day lived, during which some of us lucky ones manage to survive and some unfortunate souls like Dr. Aftab Qureshidont make it.

This is not the way a civilised society exists specially one that is governed by a so called democracy claiming to have done wonders in the past four years. The only thing we have seen in the passing years is the deflation of the human life, its value eroding to negative, people from all walks of life are executed brutally in broad day light and yet no one seems to be doing anything about it. It is the prime responsibility and duty of the state to provide protection to its citizens, ensure their safety but here its the exact opposite. Where is the concept of governance? If this basic need of protection of human life is not being met, where do we stand?

Dr Aftab Qureshi was one of the very few professors of neurosurgery this country has and now one is less from this meager figure of 17. A devoted doctor who had spent his entire life for the betterment of his patients , serving his country relentlessly, giving up on a million lucrative dream opportunities coming his way from across the globe, but all in vain. The country he served so proudly saw no value for his life and he was yet another name added to the never ending list of daily street executions. Another precious life wasted by some hard core criminals who are being nurtured by people who suffer from an extreme lack of humanity.

Is this the way to run a country? Is this the way to pay back people who commit themselves to the betterment of their nation? Is this the protection being offered to us Pakistani citizens? Keep living here and lose your life in any instance. Where are the controls that are exhibited by every country in the world? This is a democracy, Government of the people for the people by the people and now we can safely add death for the people to complete the new definition of this democracy.

We want to ask all three of you most powerful people of this country, How are we expected to function? Why are you all eyeing this in complete silence and no action is being taken to control this situation which is worsening day by day and leading to creation of mass graves of innocent citizens of Pakistan. People who believed in their country, did not want to leave and be a part of the brain drain that eroded precious human resources from Pakistan. People who work hard all day to survive in this corrupt environment , live through the day with the swords of kidnaps, thefts, mugging and cold blooded murders hanging over their heads. Are you all trying to tell us to just get out of here and leave this bleeding country for good?

It is time to do something about these atrocities before we loose more precious lives. Who are these people that are so out of range and can get away with such atrocious crimes? They have to be stopped, caught and punished in a manner that sets an example for anyone who would ever dare to follow in their foot steps.

We want justice for all the innocent lives lost in this street war. We want action, we want basic protection which is our RIGHT. We have gone quiet on every thing that is being done to us but no more will we sit in silence and witness such massacres. Dr Aftab Qureshi was a national treasure, now lost forever. All this country now has left is a few people who still love it and are willing to risk living here and try to turn things around but what is our elected Government doing ?

We walk the streets with the angel of death following us, whilst our leaders prowl the streets with mile long brigades of security!  Your life is precious and needs protection, what about a Pakistani citizen ? What is the value of his life ? We spend billions on defence, a lost cause in our eyes when the internal defence is in tatters.  While taking the oaths for your prestigious positions you promised to protect and safe guard not on Pakistan but also every Pakistani, its time you all revisited these lines and started taking your responsibilities as the leaders of this state with some seriousness. Get out of your bullet proof vehicles and guarded homes and understand the plight of the common man .

You all seem to be very patient and calm in these testing times, but we as a nation are fast losing everything, our patience our faith and most of all our lives.

We need answers now and we need assurance that we will be given our basic rights as citizens of this country. We need to be able to live without the fear of being shot down at any instant. You are the few lucky ones who live in ultimate protection and perhaps will not understand the fears and the agony of the common man but sadly you all hold positions where you can make a difference and NOW is the time to uproot this evil.

Prof Tariq Salahuddin
Professor of Neurosurgery
Chief Executive Lahore General Hospital

Naeem Sadiq’s letter:

Dear Dr. Tariq,

Aftab Qureshi was an excellent doctor and an excellent human being.  We are all deeply pained to see him go in such a barbaric manner. While the doctors have been particularly victimised for sectarian, ethnic and financial reasons, every citizen of Karachi is vulnerable to kidnapping, theft, mugging and cold blooded murder from the moment he/she steps out of the house.

As educated citizens and professionals we have not been fair to ourselves by resorting to reactive first-aid treatment to every such tragedy.  We consider each killing as a one-time event and close our clinics for 3 days, hold condolence meetings, press conferences or give protest  statements.  For thousands of unknown  innocent people who are robbed of their valuables every day  by the gun-trotting bandits, we do not do even that.

On the other hand the government does everything in its power to patronise and promote the citizens to take up arms.  It  has issued some 2 million licenses to its friends and cronies, with monthly quotas for  each parliamentarian and parting Kalashnikov gifts to the retiring senators.  Thus we have become the only country in the world where the state is itself the chief patron and promoter of kidnapping,  killing and lawlessness.   Under these circumstances, unless all peaceful citizens leave this country (as recommended by the person you addressed this letter to), they would continue to be killed or looted by the patronised mafia, randomly as well as chosen targets.

There is only one way to put an end to this suicidal course.  Eliminate the root cause.  Can the citizens, doctors, professionals and the civil society organisations, regardless of their other differences, not agree on one basic issue. “No citizen, regardless of his rank or status, rich or poor, religious or secular must be allowed to possess, carry or display any weapon of any bore –  licensed or otherwise.   Providing security is the responsibility of the state, and it must not be sublet  to private armies.  We demand cancellation of all  gun licenses issued so far and a total withdrawal of all weapons.   Also do not vote for a political party that supports militant wings amongst its ranks or is not willing to  publicly announce that it will de-weaponise all individuals, cities and towns of Pakistan.” 

Unless we all agree and organise ourselves on this one point agenda, we would continue to await our turn as the next possible victim to be killed, kidnapped or looted.

naeem sadiq
twitter : @saynotoweapons

One Response

  1. I wonder how terrorism can be stopped by deweaponization of the civil society. This is what the terrorists would welcome as the people have started defending themselves losing all trust in government protection which values its ‘democracy’ more than human life of its citizens.


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