A charity worker from Sweden, who has dedicated close to 40 years to charity work in Pakistan, was shot in broad daylight by unidentified gunmen in Lahore on Monday.
Now hospitalised, Bargeeta Almby, 70, was returning from work when she was attacked by unknown assailants in the Model Town neighbourhood, where she lives.
She suffered a bullet injury on her neck and was immediately shifted to Jinnah Hospital after the incident, where her condition is stated to be critical.
Almby has lived in Pakistan for the past 38 years, according to the police.
The Swede is the managing director in Pakistan of the Full Gospel Assemblies (FGA), which describes itself as a ‘church fellowship’ founded in the US with congregations worldwide.
Almby runs various centers in different areas of Lahore, including an orphanage in Yohana Abad and a literacy centre in Modern Colony in the Kot Lakhpat area.
In the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake, Almby donated Rs30 million to the government for establishing a database centre in Balakot, while the FGA also constructed various shelter homes across the country for earthquake and flood victims.
According to FGA media coordinator Salim Iqbal, she lived adjacent to the residence of Pakistan Peoples Party Punjab President Mian Manzoor Ahmad Wattoo.
“Although the police are deployed at Wattoo’s residence, they could neither identify the shooter nor shield Almby,” Iqbal said.
A case has been registered at the Model Town Police Station under Section 324 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) on the complaint of Salim Sadiq, the chairman of FGA Pakistan.
A police official, Ehsanul Haq Hashmi, told The Express Tribune there were witnesses of the incident and they were waiting for Almby to gain consciousness to record her statement.
He further said that the motive behind the incident has so far not been ascertained. The police are also investigating how the gunmen managed to escape despite the presence of police and Rangers.
Meanwhile, Swedish Foreign Ministry spokesperson Teo Zetterman confirmed the incident, and added that the motive behind the attack was unclear. Advisor to Prime Minister of Pakistan on National Harmony Dr Paul Bhatti confirmed that Almby’s condition was stated to be serious by her doctors.
Condemning the act of violence, he said, “I’m really sorry that this happens in our country where a few people are trying to disturb peace.”
Christian rights activists strongly denounced the attack saying that Almby was a non-political personality and had been living in Lahore since years.
Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) termed the attack extremely deplorable and condemnable.
In August last year, a 71-year-old US development worker Warren Weinstein, was kidnapped after gunmen managed to get into his Lahore home.
In April, a British Muslim Red Cross worker was beheaded nearly four months after being kidnapped in the southwestern city of Quetta.(With additional input from AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 4th, 2012.
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