Farida Afridi

Published: July 7, 2012

This file photo shows Farida Afridi working in her office. PHOTO: FILE

Farida Afridi was shot dead in cold blood for the crime of being a decent, caring human being. As the executive director of the human rights NGO, Sawera, Afridi was working in Fata performing the most thankless of jobs: trying to improve the plight of women in an area where many people have never even considered the concept of women’s rights. For that, she had to pay the ultimate price as she was killed by armed gunmen, most likely members of the Taliban, as she drove from her home in Hayatabad, Peshawar to Jamrud in Khyber Agency. Apart from taking away a valuable activist, the militants, through their brutality, will also ensure that there is a chilling effect as fewer NGOs and women will be willing to risk working in an area that needs their efforts the most.

Afridi’s ruthless murder also highlights the need for reform in Fata. Since Fata is not bound by Pakistani laws, those working there do not have the rights guaranteed to Pakistani citizens by the Constitution, and thus makes it easier for militants to operate. Last year, Zarteef Khan Afridi, who worked for the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, was also shot dead by militants in Jamrud. This shows that NGO activists are a prime target in Fata. They are denounced as agents of the West who are out to corrupt the people of the region. Recall how hard Maulana Fazlullah campaigned against polio vaccinations, claiming that these would make men sterile.

People like Afridi may be doing some of the most vital work in the country and for that they deserve the best protection the government can provide. In Fata, this means that the army must pursue her killers. The murders of NGO workers may be the most visible work of the Taliban but they have ruined countless other lives in the area too. This is a menace that cannot be tackled by regular law-enforcement measures. Military operations are the only way to prevent the murders of future Farida Afridis.

Published in The Express Tribune, July 7th, 2012.

Reader Comments (6)

  • Mirza
    Jul 7, 2012 - 2:07AM

    Being a father myself, it just gave me heartaches and a feeling of depression. What are we doing to our benefactors? Now we remember Dr. Salam when nobody can compare with him and his achievements in Pakistan. When he was buried the religious mob erased the word Muslim from his tomb stone.
    I am truly disgusted.Recommend

  • Irshad Khan
    Jul 7, 2012 - 1:32PM

    No word heard from any of our religious leaders?

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  • Wellwisher
    Jul 7, 2012 - 2:17PM

    Government must constitute a Commission to integrate areas such as FATA into the mainstream of Pakistan. All efforts must be made to make all the provinces come under the Federation and its Laws. All tribal and colonial laws must be abolished.

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  • Asif Ali khan
    Jul 7, 2012 - 5:59PM

    Very sad about listening the death of Farida Afridi. Zarteef Afridi was also a good friend and a very nice human being. Why these people are killing these innocent people, it is very simple they terrorise every educated and professional man and woman so that they should leave their ancestral homes and villages and the these monsters a and gangsters should rule. What is the role of security forces in FATA..? I think to teach a lesson to the killers of such people should be the priority. As such people are their real accets not these war lords and gangsters.

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  • Raza Khan
    Jul 11, 2012 - 12:55PM

    Extremely depressing news!

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  • shamsulmulk,mandokhail
    Jul 13, 2012 - 3:00PM

    very bad news to know the death of farida afridi,she was brave lady in khiber pukhtoonkhwa, i am sure the terrorist will never occupy society through slaughtering of innocent people.they are minority we are majority.
    shamsulmulk mandokhail,quetta

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