My cousin Yaser isn’t dead

Yaser isn't dead. In fact, he seems more alive to me than ever before.

Farwa Zahra May 30, 2011
A month after Yaser (better known as Lieutenant Syed Yaser Abbas Shaheed) lost his wallet, he received a letter along with his identity card. It was an apology from the guy who had stolen it. He wrote that it was the dire need for money that had forced him to steal, that he was really ashamed and would return him the amount if and when his circumstances changed.

I’m sure that though his feelings of remorse would have grown now that Yaser has left, the letter writer can draw some comfort from the fact that he had at least apologised.

But what about those who attended Yaser’s funeral with the sole purpose of “making money”.

Fortunately, or unfortunately, I am a part of the family who witnessed every scene after his death – right from taking his body to Lahore on a military plane, to his post-burial days in the house. On Tuesday night, the day he was buried, many of us lost our wallets and mobile phones – most of them stolen during his Namaz-e-Janaza. The very next morning, we had many more things missing from the house, right from cell phones to shampoo bottles. Seriously!

More than 17,000 fans on Facebook supporting Yaser for a Nishan-e-Haider award, several chain text messages praising his act of valour, tribute videos uploaded on YouTube and candlelight vigils organised in Pakistan and abroad made perfect sense. But what didn’t was the bizarre way of paying homage to a national hero — taking advantage of his death to steal all that could be stolen. The truth is we are surrounded by black sheep, whether they are those alleged ‘insiders’ in the armed forces supporting the terrorists to carry out the PNS operation or a part of Yaser’s funeral procession. What then connects them is the “immoral fibre”.

I cannot stop relating to Faiz’s idea of death:
"The graveyards are full indeed but only with the death of humanity."

Yaser isn’t dead. In fact, he seems more alive to me than ever before. What’s dying then is the conscience and what has by far sustained us is the fact that we still have a few people who did not sell their souls ... Yaser was one of them.
Farwa Zahra Farwa Zahra is a Qatar-based journalist. She has studied Gender and Media at the London School of Economics. She tweets as @syedaz (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


maestro | 12 years ago | Reply @Ameer Hamza: Mr Hamza. When the earthquake hit in 2005 and Margalla towers went down, CIVILIANS rushed to seek them out of the debris. I have many friends who went and there was no looting but just regular folk digging with their bare hands to save a life. I have friends who went to help in Kashmir. I have friends who went to help after the floods. Do not negate your own people like this - My friend and I got into a car accident recently on a Sunday morning - there was a bunch of boys playing cricket across the street and they came running to help. All they said was cars come and go but thank God you are ok. I was shocked at their goodness while a Honda City was sitting broken down with our wallets iphones and ipods in them and they didn't touch a thing and instead helped to get it on a tow truck. There are bad apples everywhere. Just call a person bhai or behen, you will see the reaction. My mother hit a pole a long time ago and a simple guy on a motor bike came to our house and said "your mother has been in an accident". He had found her ID and address from her purse and came to inform us. Again she had jewelery on, full purse and no one touched a thing. Poverty and lack of education does bad things to internally good people. God bless Pakistan and may give everyone an opportunity to earn a decent living and all this extremism and theft will stop immediately.
sania | 12 years ago | Reply this is no surprise to me but obviousyly it made me think how low can our society can get. To think about it what is driving this? we have to ask what factors shape our society? Firstly speaking we dont have a strong government - corruptions looms. There are no strict laws. Poverty is now one of our biggest problems and they havent yet been able to rectify this. Where there are no strict laws and regulations this is exactly what happens. Education is whats needed at the moment. Issues in pakistan are now cancer 4 level - SAD BUT TRUE.
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