Friday 16 December 2011

The murder of a good man

Zarteef Khan Afridi
How sad to hear of the murder of Zarteef Khan Afridi, coordinator in the Khyber Agency for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan. Afridi, 52, was shot dead by masked men on 5th December as he walked to the school in the Saparee area where he had taught for more than 20 years. The killing was claimed by the Abdullah Azzam Brigade - a cover name that could refer to any of the half-dozen militant groups that infest the area.
Hundreds of people turned out in Peshawar on 8th December to honour Zarteef's memory. His family said that Zarteef had recently been receiving death threats because of his opposition to Taliban activity in Khyber and because of his support for women's rights - in a remarkable display of his own practical support for women's rights he married off his three daughters without asking for or receiving bride money.
He was well known for promoting education and the observance of human rights. The HRCP called him a "tireless human rights defender". Some idea of his work can be found here.
In 1996 he founded the FATA Education and Welfare Society to promote secular education over madrassah schooling. He was almost a lone voice amongst tribesmen in Khyber seeking to promote secularism. For this he was labelled by local leaders and clergy as a kaffir.
Despite the threats, which grew in regularity and vehemence, Zarteef declined to leave Khyber. Sadly, he paid with his life for this brave decision.

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