Tearful reunion as Fakhra’s body comes home

Published: March 26, 2012

Nadia Gabol comforts a relative. PHOTO: ATHAR KHAN/EXPRESS

KARACHI: An hour before Fakhra Younus, an acid victim, jumped from the sixth floor of her Rome apartment building, she looked at her distorted, scarred face in the mirror and wept bitterly.

Her neighbour in the Italian capital, Haji Allah Din, who left her crying in the house, dismissing the incident as a daily episode, told The Express Tribune that Fakhra was haunted by her past even on that ill-fated day.

On Sunday afternoon, Din escorted her body from Rome to Karachi airport in a casket draped in the national flag.

Her body was received by her tearful family as well as PML-N lawmaker Tehmina Durrani and Muttahida Qaumi Movement leaders Wasay Jalil, Khushbakht Shujaat and Nadia Gabol.

At the request of social activist Abdul Sattar Edhi, funeral prayers were offered at the Edhi Shelter Home in Sohrab Goth, while she was laid to rest at the DHA graveyard.

The woman in her early thirties was the wife of former parliamentarian Bilal Mustafa Khar, whom she accused of pouring acid on her in 2000. Soon after the attack, she left for Italy, where she underwent 39 surgeries.

Younus, who had longed to meet her younger sister Kiran, returned to her after 12 years. The devastated sister, putting her head on the casket, wailed “Fakhra utho” (wake up, Fakhra). Upon seeing her sister’s face, her cries grew louder.

Nearby, Din recalled the last activities of Fakhra that fateful morning of March 17. “She asked me to dial three telephone numbers in Pakistan, one of which belonged to a television channel producer. Fakhra said she wanted to give an interview and then die.” But since Din had heard her say that several times, he left the house after doing the household chores. At 11:00 am, he got a call from the reception that she had ended her life.

Din said things were getting worse for her. “She had no money. Sales from her book had dried up and she was in debt.”

MQM appeals to reopen case

Jalil said that his party had appealed to the chief justice to take suo motu notice of her death. “Investigations should be reopened and the criminal should be given an exemplary punishment.” He ruled out allegations that the party was raising the issue because of Khar’s involvement and said they want all criminals behind acid attacks to be punished. Fakhra’s family has no such demands. Shahida Malik, mother-in-law of the victim’s sister and a complainant in the case, said that they did not know who threw acid on the girl. “She is gone. We can’t bring her back.

Khar rubishes accusations

Meanwhile, the victim’s former husband and accused former MPA Bilal Khar told a television channel that another man by the name of Bilal Khar had committed the crime.“Fakhra’s family has said in court that another man by the name of Bilal Khar, a dark, short, man had poured acid on her. I did not do anything. The court has cleared me.”

Sympathy from Italy

Italy sent a heartfelt condolence message for the victim. “Italy is proud to have provided help for Fakhra Younus and her son, a small apartment, medical treatment including 39 counts of reconstructive surgery, and a small disability pension. Obviously that wasn’t enough to heal the scars of her soul,” Italian Consul Roberto Franceschinis said in the statement.

“The fact of the matter is that she was still very much in love with her country and eager to come back and fight to regain her rightful place in this society. Now the real question is: has she finally lost her struggle? This is for the Pakistani people to answer.”

Published in The Express Tribune, March 26th, 2012.

Reader Comments (8)

  • shahid
    Mar 26, 2012 - 6:55AM

    Hon Mr.Chief Justice Pl. Take suo moto action on this or else it will be proved that Law is a toy in hands of powerful in pakistan

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  • MUSLIM PAKISTANI
    Mar 26, 2012 - 7:22AM

    Democracy is the best revenge…oops wasn’t the guy a Parliamentarian himself? Time this country gets rid of these feudal lords and let’s Allah’s Shariah reign supreme!

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  • Ch. Allah Daad
    Mar 26, 2012 - 8:20AM

    Another lie..There is no other Bilal Khar in the world.

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  • Faraz
    Mar 26, 2012 - 9:44AM

    time to forget about Gujrat or Babri Masjid my Pakistani brothers …this is how we treat our sisters….let alone sisters who belong to the minority groups. Humanity comes before religion, you need to be human to be able to follow a particular religion, and yes, we are very pious, devout Muslims but most unfortunately, we are not Humans. And saying things are better in Pakistan then India (they are not anyway) does not make the problem go away because that’s all we have to say. Shame on MQM and everyone else too for raising the voice now after her death, when they have some political point scoring to do!!

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  • Samir
    Mar 26, 2012 - 10:16AM

    Another Bilal Khar, u kiddin’ me? Are these people humans? Who let these depraved beings even live, let alone rule us?

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  • Citizen
    Mar 26, 2012 - 11:02AM

    that’s terrible what happened with her . I had tears .39 surgeries and daily trauma for 12 yrs! what else than suicide you can expect from such a broken soul ? Acid attackers should be hanged or should be defaced by acid just the way, they defaced victim . CJ any justice for Fakhira ?

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  • Sophist
    Mar 26, 2012 - 4:51PM

    Thanks to ITALY, for taking care of our Muslim daughter, sister. Salute !!!

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  • Qalandar Khan
    Mar 26, 2012 - 6:18PM

    Justice will not be done to this poor lady. In Pakistan, the struggle is not between the ‘right’ or the ‘left’. it is a class struggle. one class -the elite- is exploiting and the other class is ready to be exploited. The elite gives BISP, zakat and kheerat to the poor to help them keep their nose just above the water and keep them away from revolt. I think the time has come that we have a clean fight where the poor snatch their rights but the elite is very shrewd. they will continue giving the poor peanuts to keep them at bay.

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