In Memory of the Slain

At SZABIST, the students held a candlelight vigil in memory of those slain in the name of blasphemy.

Over the last month a Christian couple in the town of Kot Radha Kishan, some 60 kilometers southwest of Lahore were beaten and burnt to death after they were accused of blasphemy by their creditor, which was followed by another horrifying and deplorable incident in Gujrat where a man in police custody was hacked to death by an axe wielding police officer, again in the name of blasphemy.

Below is the speech I gave at the occasion.


We have all gathered here today because we chose to not to remain silent on the brutal murder of Shama and Shehzad.

They both were burnt alive in the same place where they worked all their lives as a bonded labor.

That fateful day, it wasn’t just the two of them who were killed: Shama was four months pregnant.

But this isn’t about just these two.

According to the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan, between 1st January 2013 and 31st December 2013, there were 540 ‘victims’ of blasphemy.

When we step into law school, in the first year we are taught about the values of Rule of Law; that no one is above the law. We are taught that no one can be sentenced or punished without due process of the law.

Sadly, 540 fellow citizens were condemned to their horrifying deaths last year by mobs, by lunatics, by murders, after they were accused of blasphemy. In this country, as rule of law erodes, we are facing increasing incidents of extra-judicial killings, vigilante justice and rising crime.

Yes, it is a crime to take someone’s life. Yes it is a crime to burn someone alive, or to hack someone to death. Sadly this has happened over the past week in our country.

This is a country, where even lawyers are killed for defending a blasphemy accused in a court of law, where politicians calling for reform of these laws are killed. I am talking about Rashid Rehman, a lawyer murdered because he was defending a blasphemy accused in court, I am talking about Salaman Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti.

We all agree that this heinous crime must not go unpunished. We wish to see these killers being brought to justice.

Because as the saying goes:

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

Justice for Shahzeb Khan

The victim Shahzeb Khan
The victim Shahzeb Khan

Shahzeb Khan, the only son of Deputy Superintendent of Police Aurangzeb Khan was murdered in cold blood by Shahrukh Jatoi, Siraj Talpur and two other convicts on 25th December 2012, near Mubarak Masjid in DHA, Karachi.

On 7th June 2013, the four accused were found guilty by an Anti Terrorism Court in Karachi for premeditated murder of Shahzeb Khan, the two prime convicts, Jatoi and Talpur were awarded death penalty, and the other two convicts were given life imprisonment.

Shahzeb Khan was murdered because one of the servants of Talpur abused and harassed the sister of the victim Shahzeb Khan, and the Shahzeb spoke out against it.

Justice for Shahzeb Khan was not easy to come by: the two convicts belong to very influential feudal families in Sindh; even though the victim’s father was a Police officer himself, the Police was unable to register a case against the convicts due to the pressure exerted by their families.

Protest for Justice for Shahzeb Khan
Hunger for Justice: The Supreme Court took a suo motto notice for legal action after large scale peaceful protests all over Karachi.

Even the Pakistani media was slow in reporting the story; it wasn’t until a social media campaign launched by the friends and family of the victim Shahzeb Khan on Facebook and Twitter named Justice for Shahzeb Khan, which gathered momentum and sympathies of Karachiites, and evolved into a series of medium and large sized peaceful protests all over Karachi, that the Supreme Court of Pakistan took a suo motto notice of the matter and ordered the police to register a case against the accused in addition to seizing their property and freezing their bank accounts.

The Supreme Court action came a bit late: Shahrukh Jatoi had escaped out of Pakistan to the United Arab Emirates. The arrest of his father for the crime of helping a fugitive of law to escape made him finally surrender to the Pakistani authorities at the Pakistani Consulate in Dubai. He was arrested and flown back to Pakistan and faced trial for premeditated murder.

Even during the trial, Jatoi’s influential family tried to save him by falsely claiming in court that he was a minor, under 18 years of age, at the time of murder. This was later proven otherwise by medical reports.

Shahrukh Jatoi flashes victory sign outside the court room after conviction
Shahrukh Jatoi, the convicted killer flashes victory sign after being awarded death penalty by an Anti Terrorism Court

After the court found them guilty and the verdict was announced, Shahrukh Jatoi was seen smiling and flashing a victory sign while being taken away.

The counsel for the convicts announced that they would be challenging the verdict before the High Court of Sindh. The case still has a long way to go: an appeal to the High Court, if that is rejected, an appeal to the Supreme Court of Pakistan, and if that appeal too is rejected, the convict would have an opportunity to appeal for mercy to the President of Pakistan. If the President finally rejects their appeal would the sentence be carried out.

Still, this is a major victory for the people of Karachi and the family of the victim. Justice is hard to come by in Pakistan, and justice for Shahzeb Khan is a display of the collective strength of the people of Pakistan, especially the young generation, their desire for a fair and equal society; Justice for Shahzeb Khan also demonstrates the power of social media in getting the people to rise up and raise their voice and be heard and in bringing killers to the book and the dispensation of justice.

Justice being done in this case would not bring the victim back to life, but it might prevent more precious lives being lost in the future to suck arrogant and egoistic attitude of the elite of this nation, who believe themselves to be above the law.

The people welcomed the decision wholeheartedly and expressed pleasure and satisfaction; the following is a glimpse of the reaction of the people after the verdict was announced by the court.


Below: A grab from a local TV channel after the convicts were awarded death penalty.

Happy Mother’s Day

This video is made for and dedicated to my mom; undoubtedly the best mother in the whole wide world! I really love you a lot! I know you love me more than anything else in the world! I always pray and wish for the best for you and would do anything for you; just like you do for me! You mean the world to me mummy! 🙂

Thank you mama for making me what I am today! You have been a constant companion, a friend and the best teacher I ever had and would ever have! Your constant motivation and your guidance has made me what I am today! Thank you for everything! You’re the best maa ever! 🙂

Happy Mother’s Day aami jaan 🙂

Tribute to Bishop Emeritus Anthony Lobo

Bishop Anthony Lobo

The Founder Principal of St. Michael’s Convent School Bishop Emeritus Anthony Lobo passed away in the early hours of February 18th, 2013. The Bishop was not only the Founder of St. Michael’s Convent School, one of the most prestigious educational institutions in Karachi and in Pakistan, but a key figure in the educational development of Pakistan.

Bishop Lobo made important contributions to education in the country. He was Principal of St. Lawrence’s Boys School, Karachi and later of Saint Patrick’s High School, Karachi.

In November 1986 he founded St. Michael’s Convent School, and served as its Founder Principal.

He was the author of many books on education. In recognition of his services to the cause of literature and education, the then President of Pakistan Ghulam Ishaq Khan conferred on him the President’s “Pride of Performance ” Award in 1990.

The Bishop also served at many other positions, nationally and internationally, serving the cause of education and inter-religious dialogue and peace.

His death is a great loss, not just to the cause of education in Pakistan, but for the people of Pakistan and the world.

Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness

"July 4, 1776. When our Declaration of Independence was signed loyal Americans were of one mind to Protect Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness."
American WW-II Poster repeating these lines.

More than a year after the American Revolutionary War, the second Continental Congress, on 2nd July 1776, unanimously approved for the creation of an independent United States of America; independent of the Great Britain. The congressional committee selected Thomas Jefferson (later to become the 2nd Vice President and the 3rd President of the United States) to author the Declaration of Independence, as an explanation of the reasons for the declaration by the Congress.

The Declaration of Independence of the 13 states of the United States of America was formally adopted by the Congress on 4th July 1776; the day on which America celebrates its independence.

Jefferson was an philosopher, a statesman, and a lawyer. He crafted the Declaration in an excellent manner:

The second section of the Declaration read:

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness”

Jefferson knew that a person can never be truly happy; greed usually steps in. He therefore wrote “pursuit of Happiness” instead of “Right to be Happy”.

Well, a side thought: If the nation on its independence declared that all men are created equal, then why did it take a century and a civil war for the abolition of slavery and granting equal status and the rights of like, liberty and pursuit of happiness?

Happiness is a choice, really it is! Like Abraham Lincoln said

“People are just about as happy as they make up their minds to be”

Live happy; live long!
Live happy; live long!

The reason: humans are seldom satisfied with what they have, people want more! That ‘want’ is what makes people feel deprived and unhappy!

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi better known as Mahatma Gandhi, the father of India said:

“Earth provides enough to satisfy every man’s need, but not every man’s greed”

So be satisfied with and thankful for what you have, be happy and live happy, for life is short, live it now, live it to the fullest! 🙂

Time is a Great Teacher, but does it Kill its Pupil?

Time is indeed a great teacher. It has taught many lessons, great and small, to all its eagerly learning pupil. History teaches us many lessons from notable examples, on a great personality’s vision or inspiration or a great tyrant’s mistakes. All these stories have something for us, a lesson or a moral.

All those great people in history were born just as innocent and naïve as any other baby anywhere in the world. They made mistakes and learned from their own and the mistakes of those before them. These lessons that they learnt over time, made them stand out of the masses of millions who lived in their times.

But no one lives forever, and so is with all great personalities. Everyone dies when their time here ends, leaving only their legacy and marks in books of history behind.

Everyone comes in the world and lives their lives and then die. But only those who did something of great importance in the world are remembered. Everyone here, I am sure, knows Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Mahatma Gandhi, Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, Sir Isaac Newton, Alfred Noble, Galileo Galilee, Leonardo da Vinci, the Wright Brothers, and many other great personalities who excelled at what they did, but could anyone here name any other person who lived in their times in the same neighborhood, or in the same city as of any on these?

Well, I don’t think so. So, you see my friends, time doesn’t kill its pupil. Its pupil, stay engraved in the pages of history, as those who molded and shaped the world or its future. Mahatma Gandhi is credited for leading the Indian independence movement and Muhammad Ali Jinnah is credited for creating Pakistan. Edison for creating the light bulb, Einstein, Newton, Galileo and Noble for their brilliance and excellence in their fields of work and setting the principals of sciences, da Vinci for his famous paintings and visionary ideas and the Wright brothers for making the first aircraft.

These personalities were pupil of time; they learned over time and then did what made them stand out of the masses in their limited time on Earth, so that when they left the world, they still live on in our memories and the memories of generations to come.

So my friends, time doesn’t kill its pupil, it keeps them alive forever in the hearts of the masses and the pages of history.

Ahmer Jamil Khan

An Incomplete Dream

Muhammad Ali JinnahWe, here in Pakistan, live in an incomplete dream; the incomplete dream of a great man who passes away 64 years ago today (11th Sept. 2012)… Yes, this nation is the dream and vision of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of this great nation.

Living in this incomplete dream, we criticize this country, blame others for its pitiful condition and live with a desire to forsake our motherland.

It is our responsibility, our duty to fulfil that dream, and build upon it with dreams of our own. This country is our home, and we are its custodians, guardians, its keepers.

I had made a promise to myself that I will do whatever it takes to make this nation great, make it proud of me a d make the world proud of my country.
I wish every Pakistani makes a similar pledge to themselves and work together, hand in hand, to lift this nation from the quicksand of hatred, injustice and fear and build it upon the rock sold foundations of love, justice and equality.

This nation has given us a lot, an identity, a place to call home and much, much more than that. Lets see what we can do to repay this great debt.

This post is a tribute to the great founding father of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

Positive Thinking

Following is the text of my speech on Friday, 10th August 2012 before the Assembly of students at St. Michael’s Convent School. The speech was titled ‘Positive Thinking’, was a part of my personal effort to reduce, if not eradicate negativity and negative thinking from my fellow students’ minds.

Respected Deputy Principal, teachers and my fellow students. I am Ahmer Jamil Khan.

I’m here to share a few things with you all…

I think I just heard someone back there say, “abay yaar phir ek lambi speech” (Another long speech). Well, is this the attitude we have to start our day with? Negative thoughts, negative speech, negative actions and all this leads to a negative approach to life.

But why shouldn’t we be so negative? There are problems everywhere, in everyone’s life, getting scolded by our parents, being nagged by our teachers, and there are those nose poking neighbors, friends who are no better than pests, and then she said this to me, he said that to me, life is so unfair for those with a negative attitude…

Some of us have a really very negative approach to life and all the things that come our way, and when someone says something negative, others around them get carried away. People with a negative attitude have reasons to justify their attitude.

But friends, I have learnt, negative attitude to anything can never be justified. If I call anyone up here to tell us what’s wrong with the school, I’m sure many people can come up with some reasons to dislike our school. But did anyone ever realize how fortunate we are to be in this institution, or how fortunate we are to be able to receive good education here, can someone count the blessings they have?

Why do we have to complain about the one thing that we do not have, when there are 9 other things that we do have.

If someone can come up with 10 reasons to dislike our country, there are 90 reasons to love it!

I just checked this morning, 925 million people in the world are undernourished and 6 million children die of starvation each year! We have had a good meal this morning!

Our negative thinking takes up most of our attention, and we do not realize all the good things in life that we are missing out on.

A really good approach I found to tackle this problem, I write a diary every day. I only mention the good things that happened to me each day, and I also mention all the good things I did in the day. By doing this I realized how beautiful life is, how fair things are, and how easily I neglected the blessings I have.

Sometimes life hits us with a brick in the face. When it does, never lose hope, and never curse, but try to appreciate this as an opportunity to learn from the mistakes, try to appreciate the experience gained from that.

We should learn to appreciate our blessings before they are taken away? We should enjoy the things we have in life, instead of regretting over what we do not have, and to do this we need to change our attitude.

As Abraham Lincoln said, “People are only as happy as they want to be.” Really, happiness is a choice, and it’s up to us to choose to be positive or negative.

Life is too short to be unhappy. Let’s change our way of thinking, our attitude and let’s choose to be happy and see the magic.

Thank you all for your time.

Ahmer Jamil Khan