Shehroz Hussain was a foreign student from Pakistan, a freshman at college in the USA, when Taliban or their affiliated groups shot dead his father, Dr Riaz Hussain Shah, in front of his clinic in Peshawar in January, 2013. “In August 2012, as I stood at the airport to say goodbye to my family, I did not know I would never see one person again,” said Shehroz, speaking at a protest vigil last Friday in Boston’s historic Copley Square. “That person was the one with the most tears. He cried so much that relatives joked with him. I will never forget that night when I was woken up in the middle of the night on 9th January, 2013, to the sound of my crying brother on the phone: ‘Baba ko Maar Diya‘. They have killed Baba.”
The Boston vigil was part of a global protest by Pakistanis against terrorism to mark one month of the barbaric attack at the army public school in Peshawar, and to demand that the Pakistan government take action, starting with the arrest of rogue cleric Abdul Aziz who openly supports the Taliban and Daesh/ISIL.
As Shehroz and his brother Ali stood in below-freezing temperatures in Boston with nearly 200 others — many of whom were not Pakistani but had come in support and solidarity — across the country in San Francisco stood Tuba Syed with more people. She had organised a vigil there as part of the global event. Her father was killed in 2002 for the same reason as Shehroz’s – they were Shia, considered apostate by the militants running amok in Pakistan. At the Karachi vigil with hundreds of others was Mehrin Kauser, a Hazara Shia from Quetta, whose mother and younger sister were killed in the bomb blast at Mastung last year, leaving Mehrin and her father seriously injured.
In Islamabad stood hundreds more (over 2000, according to an estimate), along with the young lawyer Muhammad Jibran Nasir who had sparked off this protest movement. Among them was Shaan Taseer, whose father Salmaan Taseer was gunned down by his official bodyguard for alleged ‘blasphemy’ and Mukhtiar Masih, whose pregnant young daughter Shama and her husband Shahzad had been killed (lynched, and burnt in a brick kiln) for the same alleged crime.
Vigils were held that day in cities across Pakistan and across the world, from Perth, Australia, to Nairobi, Kenya, to London, UK, and cities around north America. More protests are planned for Feb 16, to mark two months of the Peshawar massacre and demand that the government #ArrestAbdulAziz.
Here are links to the two articles I wrote giving details and providing a background and context to the global protest vigil and looking ahead – ‘Vigil for the 145 children massacred in Pakistan goes global‘ in Scroll, and ‘Finally, on the right track‘ in The News on Sunday.