Zarteef Khan Afridi: The tribesman who showed the way

Zarteef Afridi's latest photo. Courtesy: HRCP

A tribute to the human rights activist Zarteef Khan Afridi who was shot dead recently – my article in The News on Sunday. Latitude News earlier published a shorter, different version titled In Pakistan, an unlikely hero dies for his cause. Also see my earlier article: Pakistan’s ‘enlightenment’ martyrs

The tribesman who showed the way

There was the letter from an anonymous writer saying he was going to hunt down and kill her. And then there was the letter from an Afridi tribesman offering to come down and protect her.

This was in the mid-1990s. The recipient of the letters was the fiery human rights lawyer Asma Jahangir, under threat for having taken on the case of Salamat Masih, the illiterate Christian boy sentenced to death for ‘blasphemy’ for having allegedly written sacrilegious words on the walls of a village mosque. Continue reading

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Protest against murder of Zarteef Khan Afridi: “He followed his truth till the end! Respect and Salam”

Protest rally, Hyderabad, Dec 9, 12 noon, Old Campus to Press Club.

Sharing the grief of friends who have suffered this great loss. I first heard of Zarteef Khan Afridi in 1995, when he wrote to Asma Jahangir offering to come to Lahore with a tribal lashkar to protect her when she was under threat during the Salamat Masih case. I met him later at an HRCP meeting in Peshawar. He hosted us in Khyber, showed us the little library he had opened for local children. He told us wanted his daughter to marry of her own choice and not wear a burqa, but his wife told him she would leave him if he encouraged such behaviour. “Our dear dear friend, renowned leftist and human rights activist Comrade Zarteef Khan Afridi, from Jamrud, Khyber Agency was killed this morning in Saparee area of Khyber Agency while on his way to school where he has been teaching for more than two decades. He had been receiving threats from local religious militants for his revolutionary ideology, work on peace and rights in FATA. He was a brave revolutionary and refused to bow down to the pressure. He followed his truth till the end! Respect and Salam,” writes Ismat Shahjehan. His struggle shall not be in vain.

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