Words That Haunt Me


By Sabin Muzaffar
It was after Bilal Riaz’s funeral prayer. We were in line taking turns to console his father; retired Major General Nasim Riaz, a well known senior anesthesiologist. Bilal had been killed the day before along with 36 others in one of the most brutal attacks we had seen in Pakistan. He had gone to Friday prayers along with his father and his five year old nephew at the Parade Lane Mosque, Rawalpindi on 4th December 2009. During the prayers, four armed gunmen attacked with suicide jackets, hand grenades and automatic weapons. They indiscriminately killed unarmed worshipers and children. Bilal laid his nephew behind him and covered him with himself to shield him from incoming fire. Predictability, he received a burst of machine gun fire on his back and died on the spot, saving his nephew. Two of the attackers blew themselves and the other two were taken down by the military’s Rapid Response Unit. By the time ambulances came, Bilal’s father was busy tending to the victims despite being well aware that his son had passed away.


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