KAROR ESAN: Estranged relatives of the Pakistani woman reportedly involved in a mass shooting in California spoke on Sunday of their shame at her crimes, as former classmates and teachers painted a picture of a quiet, religiously conservative student.
Tashfeen Malik, 29, and her husband Syed Farook, 28, allegedly gunned down 14 people at a social services centre in San Bernardino, an act praised by the militant Islamic State group who hailed the couple as its ‘soldiers’.
According to her uncle Malik Ahmed Ali Aulakh, who is a former provincial minister, Tashfeen was born in the village of Karor Lal Esan in Punjab but moved to Saudia Arabia around 1989.
Tashfeen’s father Gulzar Malik, an engineer, had grown distant from his family and “he never came back even to attend the marriages of close relatives”, added Aulakh. “We are ashamed and shocked about this act done by our niece — why did she do something so gruesome? We can’t believe it,” he said.
Malik Omar Ali Aulakh, another of her uncles, said: “We have not kept in touch with Gulzar’s family and he avoided contacting us”.
A Pakistani intelligence men told AFP they had conducted a search on Saturday of a second family home in Multan, around 200km northwest of their ancestral village, but found nothing of interest.
An AFP reporter at the scene on Sunday afternoon saw a woman wearing a black burqa and green sweater leaving the pink-and-white two-storey house located in a middle-class neighbourhood with a bearded man, both carrying luggage.
“This woman was part of Gulzar Ahmed Malik’s family and the man with her was her maternal uncle. They were living in this house and now they have gone somewhere. I don’t know where have they gone,” said Zulfiqar, a resident of the area.
Mohammad Jamil, a neighbour of Tashfeen’s father, said that one of her uncles was a sufi devotional singer.
“We don’t want Muslims to do such things. Such people should be punished, must be punished,” said Jamil of Tashfeen, adding: “She has dishonoured Pakistan.”
It is still not clear where Tashfeen became radicalised, but by the time she returned to Pakistan in 2007 to pursue a degree in pharmacology at the Bahauddin Zakariya University that lasted till 2013, she was devoutly religious and wore a veil, according to former instructors.
“She was not outspoken or ultra-modern but she was religious minded, polite and submissive,” said Dr Khalid Hussain Janbaz, chair of the pharmacy department.
Abida Rani, a fellow student, said that Tashfeen lived in university accommodation for two years before moving into a house with her mother and another sister, also a student.
“She would often watch religious TV programmes and attended religious lectures,” said Rani, adding that she remained in touch with some of her friends via Facebook, and told one that she was pregnant.
“She preferred to remain in veil or burqa throughout her stay in the university and provided veiled pictures for all her university documents,” said Rani.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2015