Mother seeks visa to attend funeral in Christchurch

Updated March 17, 2019

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Relatives and neighbours pray for Naeem Rashid and his son Talha Naeem at their native home in Abbottabad. —AP
Relatives and neighbours pray for Naeem Rashid and his son Talha Naeem at their native home in Abbottabad. —AP

ABBOTTABAD: Baidaar Aapa, in her 80s, who lost her son and grandson in the Christchurch mosque attack, has expressed her earnest desire to meet the other heirs and attend the last rites of Naeem Rashid and Talha Naeem in New Zealand.

As an air of gloom settled over her residence at Jinnahabad on Saturday, Naeem’s mother appealed to the government to make arrangements for her travel to Christchurch so that she could attend the funeral of her son and grandson there.

A banker by profession, Naeem Rashid, 66, had gone to New Zealand in 2009 where he opted to pursue further studies and did his PhD, while his wife works as a teacher there and his three sons, including 21-year-old Talha, study at different institutes.

Naeem, his son Talha were among six Pakistani victims of terror attacks

On the day of dreadful occurrence, Naeem along with his eldest son, Talha Naeem, who had recently completed his graduation in engineering, went to the mosque for Friday prayer where they fell prey to the terrorist attack.

Naeem Rashid was the first cousin of Aamna Sardar, former Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz lawmaker of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly, and a nephew of Dr Saleem Afzal, former medical director of the renowned Ayub Medical Complex.

Talking to the media at their residence, his family members said he was of humble nature and would always actively help the needy. He used to come to Pakistan frequently and actively participate in public welfare works.

Relatives and neighbours pray for Naeem Rashid and his son Talha Naeem at their native home in Abbottabad, and (right) relatives offer condolences to Syed Ayaz Ahmed, father of Syed Areeb Ahmed, at his residence in Karachi on Saturday.—AP
Relatives and neighbours pray for Naeem Rashid and his son Talha Naeem at their native home in Abbottabad, and (right) relatives offer condolences to Syed Ayaz Ahmed, father of Syed Areeb Ahmed, at his residence in Karachi on Saturday.—AP

Soon after the spread of news of death of Naeem Rashid and son Talha Naeem in the Christchurch mosque attack, a large number of people from different walks of life started pouring in to the family’s residence, where his elder brother Dr Khursheed Alam received the visitors.

Dr Alam in an interview with the BBC said he was proud that his brother, who was killed alongside his son, had tried to tackle the gunman. “I wish I could die like him,” he said.

Mr Rashid has been hailed as a hero on social media after being seen in a video of the attacks apparently trying to tackle the gunman at Al Noor mosque before being shot.

His brother said he was proud of his actions. “He was a brave person,” Dr Alam said. “I’ve heard from people there... there were a few witnesses who said he saved a few lives by trying to stop that guy.”

But he went on to add that even though his brother was being hailed as a hero by some people, it was “still a shock for us”.

“It’s our pride now, but still the loss – it’s like cutting your limb off really,” said Dr Alam.

“Terrorists don’t have a religion,” he said, adding “crazy people” had to be stopped.

According to Foreign Office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal, the government is working with the families of four of the six victims for possible transport of bodies to Pakistan, because the heirs of two other Pakistani victims decided to bury them in New Zealand.

Published in Dawn, March 17th, 2019