August 11 Peshawar blast: Asghar Ali, 11, taken by terrorism

The fourth grader was among the six killed in the blast targeting police.

Manzoor Ali August 22, 2011

PESHAWAR: Gohar Ali is almost like any good father; proud of his children’s achievements, and always praying for good tidings to come their way. Gohar drives a rickshaw and runs a food stall to earn a living. In spite of his meager income, he scrimps and saves to send his children to private school.

But Gohar is not like any father. Gohar knows how it feels to lose a child -- his firstborn.

Gohar’s son, 11-year-old Asghar Ali, had been staying at his grandparents’ house in Kohati, as his maternal uncles also went to the same school.

On August 11, little Asghar was waiting for the bus to take him to Iqra School, where he was a student in class four.

Minutes later, as a police van was passing by a cart full of corn, Asghar’s life was cruelly ended.

A bomb on the cart, believed to be targeting the police van, exploded. Six people died in the blast.

Another attack the same day killed two others, while over 40 people were injured in the two blasts.

Kohati is at the fringe of the interior city and is not an area that has been particularly targeted in blasts and other attacks.

“It still seems like a nightmare!” said Gohar, making no attempt to hold back his tears. Speaking at his house in Nazar Hussain Baba Ziarat in Shaheen Muslim Town, one of the poorest localities of the city, Gohar reminisced about the oldest of his four children.

He said that Asghar was a brilliant student and was also memorising the Holy Quran at his school; he had memorised four chapters. “I had high hopes for him, but fate has its own way,” Gohar told The Express Tribune.

“Asghar was at the bus stop with his uncles when the blast took place,” he said, adding in a shaky voice, “I didn’t even know something had happened to my boy until my in-laws contacted me.”

What grieves the Gohar most is the futility of the senselessness violence that killed his son, a feeling that envelopes those left behind by the victims of the conflict in the region that has been raging on since the turn of the century. Like many members of victims’ families, Gohar wants the violence over, but not before his child is avenged.

“God’s wrath be upon the tyrants who destroyed my house; I wish that He sends them the same pain that they dealt me,” Gohar said, before bursting into tears.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 22nd,  2011.