Monday, May 12, 2014

The Martyrdom of Dr Faisal Manzoor

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.
Very sad.
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.
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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:
http://www.dawn.com/news/1105756

GUJRAT: A senior doctor, who was killed at his clinic in Jalalpur Jattan city on August 7 last year, was not a victim of extortionists but of the alleged militants belonging to banned outfits for his liberal views.
A reliable source in a law enforcement agency told Dawn that three militants, recently arrested in connection with the target killing incidents in Gujrat, had revealed during interrogation that Dr Attaur Rehman, a known medical practitioner of Jalalpur Jattan, had also been a victim of their target killing besides many others last year.
The law enforcement agency had arrested the suspects in a kidnap-for-ransom case. During investigation, they revealed their involvement in target killing of seven people, including Professor Shabbir Shah of the University of Gujrat (UoG), a religious figure Fazeelat Shah alias Phul Shah in Jassoki area of Kunjah police and a policeman Sarfraz. They had also attacked a Sara-i-Alamgir-based businessman belonging to Ahmadi community who sustained bullet injuries but survived two attacks on him.
Though officials are terming the arrests as a major breakthrough in the investigation of target killing cases, the revelation of Dr Attaur Rehman being targeted by the banned outfit had really shocked them as they had earlier considered involvement of extortionists in the incident.
The militants told investigators that they had killed the doctor due to his liberal views he used to express publicly at his clinic and it was a medical representative of a pharmaceutical company who had connived with the suspects, telling them that the doctor often gave, what they termed, provocative remarks about religion and the information had been the sole reason for targeting him.
The revelations came as the investigators were probing the suspects in a kidnap-for-ransom case. All the three arrested suspects, including two real brothers Abrarul Haq and Anwarul Haq, residents of Dedhar village of Gujrat Sadar police precincts and Asif Maqsood of Jhandewal village, Gujrat, were arrested by a joint raiding team of Jhelum and Gujrat police a few weeks back in a case of kidnap-for-ransom of Haji Iqbal, a British national. They also confessed to being involved in four other major incidents of target killing in Gujrat district during the later half of 2013.
Earlier, the then Gujrat DPO Ali Nasir Rizvi had claimed the arrest of seven extortionists of a gang of Jalapur Jattan during a news conference on August 28, three weeks after the killing of the doctor, saying the extortionists had killed the doctor for extortion. Police had framed charges against seven suspects for anti-terrorism court of Gujranwala where the trial of alleged gangsters continued despite repeated statements of the complainants in their favour.
A police official said the heirs to Dr Rehman had formally asked the court in writing that the seven alleged extortionists were not his killers. The suspects’ release was likely after the legal formalities.
Police sources said DPO Rizvi, under pressure from the agitating medical fraternity of Gujrat chapter of the Pakistan Medical Association, had declared the seven alleged gangsters as killers of Dr Rehman just to pacify the concerned voices in Gujrat over the rise in extortion incidents.
It was also revealed that DPO Rizvi himself had also been a prime target of the arrested terrorists for belonging to the Shia community. The security of Mr Rizvi had been higher than routine security of a DPO and two Elite Force vehicles used to move with him instead of one mobile van while a concrete security wall had also been constructed outside his house.
The three alleged killers of Dr Attaur Rehman had been in Jhelum police custody for their involvement in abduction of Haji Iqbal who was released by them after payment of Rs3.5 million ransom.
DPO Jhelum Afzal Mehmood Butt confirmed to Dawn that the arrested suspects had confessed to killing of Dr Rehman and they had been on physical remand of six days until May 15 in a kidnapping case of Haji Iqbal. Efforts were being made to bring Iqbal back to Pakistan to pursue the legal formalities of the case, he added.
DPO Gujrat Rai Ijaz said three arrested militants were yet to be brought to Gujrat from Jhelum for legal proceedings in target killing cases. Two more suspects, Qari Afzal and Zakriya Khalid, of the same network are already in custody of Gujrat police on physical remand whereas the law enforcing agencies had been making efforts to arrest the remaining members of the gang.