In the line of duty: Taking a bullet for polio

Published: December 2, 2013
When he did not manage to land a spot in the regular police force, Afridi joined Peshawar’s special police force on contract for Rs10,000 a month. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

When he did not manage to land a spot in the regular police force, Afridi joined Peshawar’s special police force on contract for Rs10,000 a month. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

PESHAWAR: “Don’t worry about anything,” he said. “Just call me, I will tell Billu [younger brother Bilal] to bring everything your family needs in your absence.” This was the last gesture of help I recall from Zakir Khan Afridi, a member of the special police force who was killed on Canal Road Friday by assailants for protecting anti-polio vaccinators. We lived in the same neighbourhood and he never shied away from lending a helping hand.

The 22-year-old was the second eldest of the six sons of Jan Akbar, a Tirah Valley resident who had migrated to Peshawar. The family had been living on Dora Road near the Government College of Technology on Kohat Road for around 16 years. Their time in the locality allowed the cultivation of good relations with locals, and few could tell that they were migrants.

Engaged to be married, Afridi died just weeks before his wedding day on December 16. “Everything was ready and even the gold ornaments for his wife were at home. We had been planning his wedding, not his funeral…” he trailed off.

Afridi’s longing for joining the police force was not deterred despite several failed attempts. When he did not manage to land a spot in the regular police force, he joined Peshawar’s special police force on contract for Rs10,000 a month. For the last five months, he was reporting to the Bani Marhi police station.

From daily wage worker, taxi driver to being a member of the street patrol, Afridi began to work at a young age to support his family, as his father had died over a decade ago. His elder brother Amir says he treated him more like a friend than younger brother, largely because Afridi was a jovial and good-humoured young man.

With duties ranging from guarding mosques during prayers in Ramazan, shielding Muharram processions and protecting polio workers, Afridi’s peers say he never refused to be in the front and was always in the good graces of his officers.

A young man with a smiling face, he was known to almost everyone in Shareefabad, the area where he lived on Dora Road, mainly because he played good cricket. His big sixes would always attract a crowd, even during night matches in Ramazan.

“He would always smile at bowlers even when he was angry. I loved his style of playing cricket and he was famous as Shareefabad’s Shahid Afridi,” said his friend Saddam Hussain.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 2nd, 2013.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • adil n
    Dec 2, 2013 - 4:07AM

    Would Imran Khan and the youth do a dharna on this ???

    No, PTI will only protest if you are a terrorist and killed in drone strike. Recommend

  • Zayyad
    Dec 2, 2013 - 4:09AM

    This is the height of madness, that 30 people have died in support of the polio program- and what has the previous or current government done to bring to any justice/sense.


  • Uzair Malik
    Dec 2, 2013 - 4:29AM

    Deeply saddened after reading this. A true and loyal son of the land has passed away performing the duties.
    May Allah grant him the highest levels of Jannah and give patience and tolerance to his friends and family, In sha Allah. May He show those responsible the right path.
    ‘Inna lillahi wa inalehi rajeoon’


  • Xyz
    Dec 2, 2013 - 5:10AM

    Down these barbarians and their imbecile apologists who compare apple with oranges , and justify killing of innocent people , in the name of drone attacks. His photo on social media, which shows his dead body being carried away on a pickup truck with his brother clinging onto him in tears , just broke me. No wonder Pakistan is seeing its downfall.


  • Falcon
    Dec 2, 2013 - 5:40AM

    Salute to the martyr. He should get a post-humous award for his contribution to humanity and this country.


  • Gp65
    Dec 2, 2013 - 7:36AM

    May God give strength and courage to this man’s loved ones o bear this loss, especially his young bride to be.

    If people do not want to inoculate heir own kids – fine. Why exercise a veto over the entire neighbourhood where some parents may want to get the kids inoculated against polio?

    I wonder if PTI workers will be as passionate about protesting this death in Peshawar as they are about protesting the deaths of Afghan terrorists in Hangu?Recommend

  • Moiz Omar
    Dec 2, 2013 - 5:06PM

    Rest in peace Mr. Afridi. You are a martyr. Recommend

  • Faisal
    Dec 2, 2013 - 8:51PM

    How about some financil contribution fr the family esp by those who r feeling sad. I fully agree btw, it is very sadRecommend

  • csmann
    Dec 2, 2013 - 9:37PM

    Where there is polio,there is TTP;Where there is TTP,there is PTI


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