Hero who gave up his own life to save others

Though he failed to disarm the gunman, his courageous act gave others precious time to escape

Zubair Ayub March 17, 2019
Though he failed to disarm the gunman, his courageous act gave others precious time to escape. PHOTO EXPRESS

ABBOTABAD: Naeem Rashid went to Masjid Al Noor in Christchurch with his son Talha Naeem to offer Friday prayer. Neither of them returned home. Now, Rashid’s mother has appealed to Prime Minister Imran Khan to help her get a special visa so she can travel to New Zealand to attend the funeral of her son and grandson.

Rashid died while trying to disarm a gunman who took at least 49 innocent lives during his terrorist rampage at two mosques in the city.
Though he failed to disarm the gunman, his courageous act gave others precious time to escape. He died a hero.

Rashid used to work as a banker in Pakistan before going to New Zealand in 2009 to pursue a PhD and teach. His wife Jadana Ambreen also works as a teacher, while his two youngest sons are students. Talha, his eldest son who also died in the attack, had recently graduated with a degree in engineering.

Rashid’s brother-in-law Nadeem Khan, who also lives in New Zealand, said that Rashid charged the attacker, even though his son had already been shot. “If he had not done this, the number of causalities could have been much higher,” he said. An eyewitness described Rashid acting as a human shield while others escaped.

Rashid was a cousin of former MPA Amna Sardar and a nephew of former Ayub Medical Complex medical director Dr Saleem Afzal.

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Talking to the media on Saturday, his family members remembered Rashid as a brave, loving and humble person who was always eager to help the poor. That apart, his family members said that Rashid took great interest in religious and welfare activities.

“He used to visit Pakistan regularly and was always eager to help the needy,” one of his family members recalled.

His elder brother, Dr Khurshid Alam, has also flown to New Zealand from Lahore to assist his widowed sister-in-law as they decide whether the body should be buried in New Zealand or Pakistan.
Former MPA Sardar said in Abbottabad that Rashid had two brothers but no sister, so he always treated her like his sister. “He cared about me like a real brother.”

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She added that he always went out of his way to help others.
Dr Alam, who is a renowned physician in Lahore, said he had talked to his brother recently on the phone. “He was planning to visit Pakistan for my son’s wedding. It is ironic that now I might have to bring their bodies to Pakistan. My brave brother sacrificed his life. When we were younger, he would say that one should never stop helping others and should be willing to die with honour for a just cause. He has practised what he preached.”


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