Mosque attack victims: Eight Pakistanis buried in Christchurch

Thousands of New Zealanders gathered in Christchurch on March 22 to honor the 50 Muslim worshippers killed one week ago by a white supremacist, with a call to prayer broadcast around the country and a two-minute silence. (AFP)
Updated 22 March 2019

Mosque attack victims: Eight Pakistanis buried in Christchurch

  • Funeral was attended by more than 5,000 people
  • New Zealand broadcasts the Islamic call to prayer across the country

ISLAMABAD: Out of the nine Pakistani nationals who were shot dead in two New Zealand mosques last week, eight were laid to rest on Friday after a mass funeral in Christchurch, the largest city of the country’s South Island.
At least 50 people were killed in twin attacks on two mosques on March 15 when a white supremacist opened fire on the worshippers.
“Today, eight Pakistani Shaheed (martyrs) have been buried in a local graveyard in Christchurch according to Islamic rituals. More than 20 family members, who flew from Pakistan, were able to join (the procession),” Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman Dr. Muhammad Faisal tweeted on Friday.
Travel arrangements for the family members of the victims were facilitated by Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) and the government of New Zealand.
On Friday, thousands of people gathered for a mass funeral which was “attended by more than 5,000 people, of which there were about 1,500 Muslims, who came from all over New Zealand...Shaheed (martyred) Syed Areeb Ahmed will be repatriated to Pakistan in the next few days. His family is being kept informed”, excerpts from a statement released by the FO read.
“Emotions were high, during the funeral prayers,” Kaleem Khan, a Pakistani community leader, told Arab News from Christchurch.
Meanwhile, as a mark of respect, New Zealand broadcasted the Islamic call to prayer on Friday, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern joining the congregation of mourners near Al-Noor mosque, one of the two locations which had been targeted last week.
Ardern and thousands of others observed two minutes of silence in memory of the victims, following which the premier said that New Zealand was mourning with the families of the victims. 
A day earlier, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan had called Ardern to condemn last week’s attacks before expressing his admiration over her handling of the situation, particularly her attempts to help the nation’s grieving Muslim community heal.

Afghan man travels 12 km everyday to fulfil daughter’s dream

Updated 8 min 18 sec ago

Afghan man travels 12 km everyday to fulfil daughter’s dream

  • Mia Khan wants his daughter to be Sharan city’s first woman doctor
  • Along Pak-Afghan borderlands, powerful patriarchal norms still dictate most women’s lives

BANNU: Along the restive Pak-Afghan borderlands, a daily wage laborer travels 12 km on his motorcycle every day to fulfil his daughter’s ambitious dream.

Mia Khan, who lives in Sharan city in the southeastern Paktika Afghan province, parks his motorcycle outside his daughter’s school every morning and waits for classes to end, so they can make the long journey back home together.

Students attend a class at the Nooranya School in southeastern Paktika province of Afghanistan on Dec. 4, 2019. Mia Khan. (AN Photo)

“You know, we don’t have female doctors in our entire town. It is my ultimate wish to see my daughter, Rozai, as its first female doctor. I want her to serve humanity,” Khan told Arab News via telephone.

Paktika shares approximately 300 km border with Pakistan’s newly-merged tribal districts of North and South Waziristan and parts of Pakistan’s Balochistan province, where powerful patriarchal norms still dictate most women’s lives.

But Rozai, her father said proudly, has just been promoted to class 7 at Nooranya School, a community educational institution built by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan.

Mia Khan and his daughter Rozai pose for an undated photo inside the Nooranya School in southeastern Paktika province of Afghanistan. Khan travels 12 km daily on his motorcycle to take his daughter to school every day. (Photo courtesy: social media)

“My name is Rozai and I am the daughter of Mia Khan,” Rozai, who goes by her first name, told Arab News proudly.

“We come from too long a distance. And I demand a school be established close to our home. Yes, my father is a daily wage laborer. We become too tired after reaching our school and sometimes we get late,” she said.

Saif-ur-Rehman Shahab, a representative of the Swedish Committee, told Arab News that Khan, who has for years brought his children to school on a motorcycle, deserved all the appreciation he could get. He has two sons and seven daughters.

“Khan gets his children, specifically his daughter Rozai, educated in a very challenging situation. You know we have deteriorated security and poor awareness about girls’ education here. Khan is facing acute financial challenges working as a daily wage laborer. I deeply appreciate him for facing all these challenges boldly to educate his daughter,” Shahab said.

A view of the Nooranya School in southeastern Paktika province on Dec. 4, 2019. (AN Photo)

When contacted, Hikmat Safi, adviser to Afghanistan’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), told Arab News that Khan’s passion was an inspiration to others.

“Amid brewing insecurity coupled with cultural limitations, this is really a...positive change when people like Khan come out to educate their children, primarily daughters,” Safi said.

According to a statement by the Swedish Committee for Afghanistan, the Nooranya School has 220 girl students studying in the facility. The committee has established hundreds of community-based classes and schools in various areas of Paktika province where the majority of the students are girls.