She was the principal of the Army Public School and Colleges System, Peshawar, since 2006 and had 20 years of teaching experience. Tahira Qazi was one of the pioneers of the school.
On Tuesday morning, when the news emerged on TV channels that she had been taken hostage along with other staffers, it sent her son and husband into a state of panic.
Even after the hours-long army operation finally ended around 5:30pm, her body couldn’t be retrieved. Reason: it was found in a place littered with IEDs. It took several hours of effort to defuse the bombs and reach her body. The family received the body late at night.
Tahira Qazi had a master’s degree in political science from University of Peshawar.
“She was the mother of three. A daughter and two sons, one of them is physically challenged,” said Imran, a relative while talking to The Express Tribune, adding that she was an aged woman and could easily save her life but she tried to protect the children and was taken hostage by the militants.
She was laid to rest in her ancestral graveyard in Landi Arbab village on the outskirts of the city. Thousands of people attended her funeral.
Babar Bin Atta, one of her students who is now a consultant with WHO, shared his memories:
“In 1994 she became my teacher. She was the English teacher in sixth and seventh grades, through 1994 to 1995. I knew her daughter before I knew Madam Qazi,” he said. “Her daughter Arifa was with me in fourth and fifth grade.”
Recalling his school days, he noted: “The first thing that comes to my mind is that she was very strict and good in English.”
Babar said: “But I do remember, whichever student was good at their studies, she would appreciate them. She never hesitated to tell us if we did well.”
He added: “I clearly recall something she said in class seven. I was known to be very naughty. Once in the class I raised my hand to answer a question. The moment I finished, she said ‘People might say stuff about Babar but I always defend him by saying that whatever else, he is good at his studies’”.
Telling about his teacher’s family, he expressed: “Arifa’s dad, Madam Qazi’s husband, Zafarullah Qazi was an army officer known as Col Qazi. He was a golfer.”
Babar said, “The last I saw her was in 2009 at a golf course. She remembered me. She asked me what I was doing there. I said ‘I am here to play golf’. She said, ‘Oh you have become a big man now’”.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 18th, 2014.