KARACHI: Slouched against a wall and surrounded by a dozen of people in a small room of a middle-sized house located in the city’s central district, Syed Ayaz Ahmad was receiving condolences over the death of his son, who was among dead in Friday’s terror attacks at New Zealand mosques.
Syed Areeb Ahmad, 27, was his only son who went to offer Friday prayers at Al-Noor Mosque Christchurch, one of the two mosques, where a terrorist shot him together with 49 other Muslims in a cold-blooded shooting — another sign of rising Islamophobia in the West.
Among the dead, nine belonged to Pakistan — four of them from Karachi — whereas several Pakistanis were also injured in the gruesome attack, the bloodiest in New Zealand’s peacetime history.
Pakistanis observed a day of mourning on Monday to show solidarity with victims of the terror attack victim, with national flag flew at half-mast on the parliament and all other government buildings.
Family members of some of the victims have departed to New Zealand to attend their funerals.
Naeem Rasheed, one of the victims who tried to stop the attacker and secure his fellow Muslims, has been declared a hero by the Pakistani government and the international media.
His mother and a brother have left for New Zealand as his family has decided to bury him in Christchurch.
Prime Minister Imran Khan on Sunday announced a national award for Naeem for his heroic work.
Areeb had visited his hometown Karachi just one and a half months before the tragedy to attend the engagement of his younger sister.
“He was very happy [on the occasion], and keenly discussed his only sister’s wedding plan with us,” Muzzaffer Khan, Areeb’s maternal uncle, told Anadolu Agency.
The family was informed of the tragedy by Areeb’s colleague, who himself was present at Al-Noor Mosque at the time of the terror attack but luckily survived unhurt.
“He (colleague) was not sure about what happened to Areeb. He could only tell us that Areeb was missing after the incident. It was after two days when Pakistani High Commissioner to New Zealand confirmed his death,” Ayaz said.
Areeb’s untimely death turned out to be dream shattering for his family as he was the only son and the lone bread earner.
A chartered accountant by profession, Areeb was offered a job by a local chartered accountant firm and moved to New Zealand in 2017.
“The news (of his death) was no less than a bombshell. We could not believe that initially as it was not in our wildest imagination that such terrible things could happen in a country like New Zealand”, Ayaz told Anadolu Agency.
Hailing from a low-income family, Areeb was a fine example of self-making. He gave tuitions and did other part-time jobs to support his father — a taxi driver — but never compromised on his studies.
He got his chartered accountant degree with flying colours from Pakistan’s top-ranked institute and was offered a lucrative job in Christchurch soon after completion of his studies.
“He (Areeb) was a pure self-made person. When he got a job in New Zealand, we thought our tough days were over. We were very happy for his successes,” Ayaz said while trying to fight back his tears.
“But we never knew what future had stocked for us.
“It seems if all our dreams have been shattered.”, Ayaz said as tears rolled down his cheeks.