I first met Faisal Manzoor in 1975. I was one year senior to him in high school and then in Medical School (where he was one of my students when preparing for physiology and pharmacology exams). I have been in touch ever since and the last time I met him was in August 2013.
When we graduated from medical school, most of us moved to England and the US to "improve ourselves" or some such shit. In those days, one did not leave Pakistan because one was Shia or even liberal (though some other minorities had already got the memo, starting with Sikhs and Hindus in 1947). That started later. Still, a lot of people left or were encouraged to leave by parents and elders who were surprisingly pessimistic about the future of the great nation they had created and whose "real" half they continued to rule. But not Faisal. Faisal moved back to his small hometown and built a modern hospital there. It grew and prospered and provided round the clock service in a dozen different specialties. And it was right on Sher Shah Suri's Grand Trunk road, so every friend going towards Peshawar or Abbotabad or points North (where the ISI in its infinite wisdom liked to locate their training camps for Jihad and other needs) would stop by Faisal's hospital and get infinite hospitality at any time of the day or night.
When an earthquake struck Northern Pakistan, Faisal loaded up a truckload of blankets, tents, food and medicines and headed North. He camped out there, distributing help to all and sundry. Some of them, unfortunately, were already members of the great Pakistan Islamic Purification initiative, but of course at that time we still did not know where that purification would head next.
Well, as we all know now, it headed for the Shias. Or maybe it was already heading that way, but we didnt really see it till years later because every cancer needs time to grow.... And Faisal and his family were Shia. In fact, they supported the local Imambargah. They were not just Shia, they were prominent Shias. They were also prominent philanthropists, prominent doctors, prominent helpers of those in need, prominent hosts of distant cousins of friends of friends..and prominent friends of all and sundry. But being prominent Shia was what got them targeted.....and all the other prominences did not help one bit when the motorbike boys came looking for targets.
2 months ago, Faisal's older cousin (a doctor at his hospital and the deputy director of the local polio campaign) was shot dead while coming out of the hospital. He was shot dead on main GT road. At 8 pm or so. Nobody was caught. Pakistan moved on. Shit happens. What can one do? it is the will of Allah. Or at least the will of Allah's little helpers in Pakistan.
We asked Faisal if he was thinking of "getting out". In fact, some of us specifically advised him to get out. He said where would I go and what would I do? my life and my work are all here. My family is here. My friends are here. My patients are here. My home is here. How can I leave? I will get some guards. This or that friend who is a senior police officer or a senior civil servant or a senior army officer has promised that this time, the culprits will be found.
But they found him first.
He was shot dead at 8-20 pm, leaving his hospital for home. He was shot at the same spot where they shot Babar. He had not proven hard to find.
Another light has gone out in Pakistan. The darkness is descending faster than we thought.
Tomorrow the Attock branch of the Pakistan Medical Association will pass a condolence resolution and maybe they will also conduct a token strike. The chief minister may "order the police to apprehend the culprits" (we all know they never move without orders). Sometimes, these things can get noticed, even by a busy man life Shahbaz Sharif. And surely the blessed army will promise to relentlessly defend the ideological frontiers of Pakistan. While you sleep in peace, ISI is awake (as recent expensively printed posters have told us all). Indeed.
But unfortunately we also know that the culprits will be back. If arrested, they will be freed. If convicted, they may escape. Shit happens.
This is murder number three in the last 15 months, just in our close circle .
Dr Ali Haider, Eye surgeon, only son of the legendary Professor Zafar Haider and Professor Tahira Bokhari. Shot dead along with his son in Lahore.
Dr Babar Ali, Faisal's cousin, an exemplary gentle soul who literally had no enemies. Shot dead in Hasanabdal 2 months ago.
Dr Faisal Manzoor, shot dead today.
Its getting closer. Strategic depth has come home to roost.
Giving away prizes at the local school:
Are you wondering what pre-genocide propaganda looks like? Wonder no more. Here are the proud students of the University of Sargodha
Meanwhile in Gujrat: