We are forced to wonder what has gone wrong with us as a nation when someone doing charitable work among the poorest of this nation by trying to ease their misery — something the state should be doing in the first place — is shot at in broad daylight. Yet, this is precisely what happened to Bargeeta Almby, 70, who is widely known as Sister Bargeeta. A charity worker from Sweden, she had devoted 40 years of her life to Pakistan and its people in philanthropic deeds. She was shot in the neck by unknown assailants upon returning from work to her home in Lahore, on December 3. She now struggles for life at Jinnah Hospital, where doctors say her condition is critical.
Almby was associated with a church-based organisation in Lahore. Among the projects she managed was an orphanage in the poverty-stricken, mainly Christian Yohanabad area and a literacy centre in the Kot Lakhpat area. But it was not just Christians that Bargeeta Amby aided. In the aftermath of the 2005 earthquake, she donated Rs30 million to the government for establishing a database centre in Balakot, while her organisation also constructed various shelter homes across the country for earthquake and flood victims.
A case has been registered and the police say investigations are on. Christian and human rights activists have condemned the incident. Past precedent suggests her identity as a westerner that may have been enough to make her a target. There have been other, similar incidents before and the lack of justice served in them has been appalling. Overtime, the UN has been forced to scale down operations in some areas. Other organisations have quit the country as well for safety of life. Under these conditions, the biggest sufferers are the people who are devoid of the generous commitment of such people and with the assailants almost never being caught, it is the victim who pays the price with their life.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 6th, 2012.