Tahira Qazi: Life lived on principles

Published: December 18, 2014
Tahira Qazi. PHOTO: FILE

Tahira Qazi. PHOTO: FILE


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.

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Reader Comments (47)

  • salman
    Dec 18, 2014 - 3:41AM

    Brave woman. May your soul rest in peace and thank you for your valour and services. You will never be forgotten.


  • Aamir-Toronto
    Dec 18, 2014 - 5:02AM

    May ALLAH (SWT) bless her with highest place in jannah….ameen sumah ameen


  • Hamid Khawaja
    Dec 18, 2014 - 6:50AM

    Name the school after this brave lady and give her a gallantry award.


  • H Chaudhry
    Dec 18, 2014 - 9:03AM

    A strong, courageous woman. I salute your bravery.


  • sabi
    Dec 18, 2014 - 9:31AM

    Deep condolences to the family for this irreparable loss..RIP.


  • Anam Batool
    Dec 18, 2014 - 11:03AM

    A brave woman indeed. I salute you..


  • Muhammad Kashif
    Dec 18, 2014 - 12:07PM

    Tahira Qazi , you are beyond any Nobel Prize. Pakistan is indebted to you forever . And our feelings for you are beyond in caparison to any so called nobel prize winners.Recommend

  • syed ali anwer
    Dec 18, 2014 - 12:12PM

    A brave woman indeed. She should be awarded the highest award for gallantry. The nation salutes her.


  • Amina
    Dec 18, 2014 - 12:32PM

    May her soul rest in piece! :'(
    She was very brave…she was janti!
    It’s so heartbreaking that this happened!
    Makes me wanna cry :'(


  • JD
    Dec 18, 2014 - 12:49PM

    I met her son today. He asked me to clarify a rumour that prevails today. People say she was burnt alive. The fact, as per her son, is that she stayed behind to help the kids and and got shot. Her body was burned due to explosion from an IED. Please ‘recommend’ this comment if its published so it can be on top and this information comes to the front.
    May Allah bless the souls of the martyrs and bestow patience on their loved ones and on this nation. Ameen.


  • cyrus
    Dec 18, 2014 - 1:49PM

    Salute and Respect.


  • Parvez
    Dec 18, 2014 - 3:26PM

    Its women like this that make us proud………..and not our self serving inept leaders.


  • Realist
    Dec 18, 2014 - 3:46PM

    you all quite citing some form of God. There is no definitive proof backing religion. (I wish there was, but there isn’t) Humanism is the only way civilization is going to advance.

    Humanism- an outlook or system of thought attaching prime importance to human rather than divine or supernatural matters. Humanist beliefs stress the potential value and goodness of human beings, emphasize common human needs, and seek solely rational ways of solving human problems.


  • Dec 18, 2014 - 3:54PM

    The world mourns with you and so do I. So very sorry for the loss of this amazing woman and the many others who lost their lives. May peace come to your community and love overcome all evil. <3 Donna


  • Manahil
    Dec 18, 2014 - 5:34PM

    salute great lady,May Allah rest her soul in peace aameen


    Dec 18, 2014 - 5:38PM

    My God What woman , May God Bless her with the choicest place in Heavens.Recommend

  • Dec 18, 2014 - 5:39PM

    salute great lady ,May Allah rest her soul in peace aameen


  • John
    Dec 18, 2014 - 6:04PM

    @ Donna Kiviruma,

    World is safe, because their Army fights on behalf of World and protect. We pray our schools should be safe.


  • Fahad
    Dec 18, 2014 - 7:04PM

    A great woman indeed.I just set her picture as my cellphone’s wallpaper.tears flowing like a river.


  • Palvasha von Hassell
    Dec 18, 2014 - 8:59PM

    Yes, I remember that face from way back when I was a child. Always a woman of character, she has now become a heroine. Pakistan should give her an award.


  • Naeem Khan
    Dec 18, 2014 - 9:57PM

    RIP Tahira Qazi , I did not know her but it seems she was a good teacher and dedicated her life to teach kids. My condolences to the bereaved family.


  • Pooja to
    Dec 18, 2014 - 10:16PM

    I hope all good for her soul for the upcoming travels in this universe….
    A mother can truly understand the pain of a child and so she does
    She is a supreme mom….
    My salute to her
    I pray to god to take care of her and keep her soul at it’s best
    My respect for such a great lady…
    And all the pure souls of children rest in.peace.Recommend

  • Salman ( Canada )
    Dec 18, 2014 - 11:43PM

    Typical Pakistani thinking; describing her as an ‘aged woman’. What exactly is ‘aged’ in Pakistan? I guess it depends on the health of the nation and the average life span in the country. Here in Canada, the average span is about 84 years. People who cross 65 are referred to as seniors, NOT ‘aged’. Most men and women here are far more active physically than their counterparts in Pakistan. No one would like being called ‘aged’; they would be quite offended, in fact. I am 71, and stay active, biking in summer, an average of 150km a week. In winter I am at the Gym. doing cardio exercises and weights. I have met Pakistanis who can barely walk a mile. My point: Stop calling people aged. Recommend

  • Adil
    Dec 19, 2014 - 12:42AM

    People like Madam Tahira Qazi are terms as Bahadur and real person, unlike these dead brain so called talibans killing innocent people and young flowers. Salute with greatest respect. May Allah place her at the highest place in Jannah.


  • Sahibzada Bilal Ahmad
    Dec 19, 2014 - 1:19AM

    This respectible lady was a Teacher in my times.May ALLAH bless her soul.I remember you.


  • Hana
    Dec 19, 2014 - 1:52AM

    May Allah raise her stations in jannat ul Firdous. Our deepest sympathies for her bereaved family. She is a perfect example of what Peshawar used to be. Well educated, strong, brave women lead institutions and educated generations. This is an irreplaceable loss for our nation. It would be fitting for government of Pakistan to award her and all staff members who gave the ultimate sacrifice with the highest civil award.
    Ms Tahira Qazi is the mother of all the innocent children we lost at Army Public school and now a teacher, a mentor and a mother of this nation. She lived an exemplary life and received dignity in death by embracing Shahadat. Long live her memory in nation’s heart & mind.


  • Khuram Riaz
    Dec 19, 2014 - 11:49AM

    I salute this brave lady.
    Allah paak blessed her soul in peace. Ameen


  • Shefali
    Dec 19, 2014 - 12:28PM

    Its a rule of life one who come always go but important is how you take your life. For Mam Tahira….Big salute to Mam. U always appreciate teacher nd principal with her profession. But this lady given better example for everyone how to show humanity as a normal human being humanity is the first thing nd tooooo important for everyone. Thanks. Great to know a brave person like you. May god rest you in peace.


  • Basit Nasir
    Dec 19, 2014 - 2:00PM

    Amazing story you have shown so much courage and been selfless in your actions to protect those innocent children. You had a responsibility and did not faultier from that. You are truely an amazing example for others to look at and follow. You have not gone without cause. Around the world everyone is in total admiration. I just pray and hope the leaders in charge of the country can sit up and take note of those sacrifices people make for their country and community. Shame on you. May Allah give you the most lofty place in paradise and give your family peace and tranquillity to over come this great great loss of a true hero.16.12.14
    To her family we may not have been close to her or knew her personally but we are all feeling the shock pain and loss. Stay strong in her lovely memory.


  • Col (r) farakh
    Dec 19, 2014 - 2:16PM

    I have known Mrs Qazi when I was a junior officer in late 70s. She was an elegant lady educated but never projected herself that she is not the House Wife type.She listened to the guests with patience and smile but seldom participated in Cross Discussion .

    I never knew that she had a Masters Degree till today,but definitely she was sharp intelligent woman with tremendous grace and balance. Incidently Col Qazi and his family just wandered in my thoughts 2 days before this incident can we call it a coincidence as I have never met them since 1988.


  • gopal maharjan
    Dec 19, 2014 - 3:11PM

    “Mother of pakistan” title must be given to her. Caz not worrying of own, she save lives of children.


  • Saleem Iqbal
    Dec 19, 2014 - 3:19PM

    We can only pray for her soul now and to decorate her coffin with national award which she deserve and must be awarded.


  • Tehzeeba Riaz
    Dec 19, 2014 - 7:09PM

    Salute to tahira qazii
    beshake wo RAAB hi janta ky mout kab, kaisy or kahan liki hy..


  • umara
    Dec 19, 2014 - 10:52PM

    I do not have enough words to appreciate the courage of this great lady. No doubt our nation should be proud of her for being selfless for saving lives of kids. We are proud of you Ms. Tahira Qazi. Anyone who could tell me more about her background and her teaching experience at different schools?
    May her soul rest in peace and give her higher ranks in Jannah ameen


  • Dec 20, 2014 - 2:15PM

    Dear Qazi Family.

    I have no words, only have tears and prayers May Allah give are Jannat and patience to all family members and beloved ones.

    Ex-Student of her from Presentation Convent High School Risalpur S/o of (Late) Sir Rehman
    Badge mate of Tahira Qazi.


  • Bhatti
    Dec 20, 2014 - 8:39PM

    I always believed that Pakistan’s women are much more brave than its men. If all these brave women who are willing to stand up for their ideals even to the point that they are willing to give up their lives were at the helm of Pakistan’s highest institutions it would be a much better place.


  • Imran
    Dec 20, 2014 - 9:11PM

    Dear Madam Tahira,

    We pray for her and God give her place in heaven. Also pray to all saheed students and teacher in young age of there life. Ameen

  • husain naqi
    Dec 22, 2014 - 11:58AM

    @Muhammad Kashif:
    pls. do not hurt her memory. tahira sahib had great appreciation for nobel winner malala.


  • Aftab Ahmed Qazi
    Jan 9, 2015 - 8:57PM

    SALUTE Her. She must be recommended for nashan-e-Imtiaz.


  • Jan 10, 2015 - 12:43AM

    We All Saalam of you Madam that a wonderful job for you madam may Allah bless youRecommend

  • Jan 10, 2015 - 9:12PM

    I SALUTE THIS Brave Tahira Qazi Principal of Army Medical School, No Doub’t Tahira Qazi Could easily save Her life But for the Sake of Her Students , She Ignord herSelf.
    She Did That If Our OneSelf ready for that , then there is no need to pull our Walls Up & barbed wire‎, ( strand of wires having small pieces of sharply pointed wire twisted around it at short intervals, used chiefly for fencing in livestock, keeping out .).
    Please Stand Up , She Tahira Qazi is the First Drop of That Rain , That Can Save Us From Terrorism.


  • wajahat Hassan Lodhi
    Jan 15, 2015 - 8:29PM

    A big salute to u M’em. U have set an example. The nation is proud of u.. May her soul rest in peace


  • tariq jamil
    Jan 16, 2015 - 1:42PM

    I have no word for her great services. I have tears in my eyes and my heart is broken. I just have salute for this great Mother and Great Great Teacher. May All Mighty Allah rest her soul in eternal peace.


  • shaheena asif
    Jan 18, 2015 - 1:31AM

    you did the right thing….now my mind is clear what i should do for my students …GOD bless u


  • Aamer
    Jan 21, 2015 - 8:18PM

    MashaAllah brave teacher and mother. May Allah grant her highest place in jannat.


  • Faizan Shabbir
    Jan 24, 2015 - 3:01PM

    solute to brave Principal


  • Habib Ur Rahman
    Jan 30, 2015 - 1:37PM

    Salute to the brave lady! She needs to be awarded Nishan e Haider for trying to save the children in the face of her sure murder. This will bring honour to the award, as well. Only the army can take such an initiative.


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