A flood of people from all shades of life were present when the dead body of the martyred Aamir Cheema touched the land of his ancestral town Saroki, a tiny village of Wazirabad, 90 miles north west of Lahore city, on Saturday 13th of May, 2006. There was a tough deal of dispute over the funeral prayers of the Shaheed as everyone aspired to clinch the honors. Ultimately, Aamir's father was chosen to lead to end the raging dispute. Thousands of persons overwhelmingly attended the final rites of the martyred despite blistering heat soaring over 50 degree Celsius.
Aamir Abdur Rahman Cheema, 28, was a Ph.D student arrested by the Berlin police between 20th and 22nd March after being accused of making as assassination attempt (armed with a dagger) to chief editor of Dowplait, in the office of Axel Springer. The newspaper was one of the several papers in Europe that reprinted the blasphemous caricatures of the Muslim's Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh) in a show of support for freedom of expression after their 1st publication in a Danish newspaper. The reprinting touched off even more outrage in Islamic World and in particular Pakistan, where thousands of people thronged out of streets in violent protests.
Ghazi Cheema Shaheed, the only brother of his three sisters was an engineer by vocation who had left his country for Germany for higher studies in Nov 2004 and paid his last visit to Pakistan in Oct 2005 found dead in his cell while awaiting trail for an alleged assault. His father, Nazeer Cheema claimed that his son, who had been held for six weeks awaiting a court appearance, was tortured to death. Cheema's family members also declined the fact that he had committed suicide. On the other side, German police said, Cheema hanged himself in his Berlin Cell on 3rd of May using a noose made from his clothes. However, the death of youth is still a mystery to be resolved.
German authorities' extended half-hearted cooperation with Pakistani investigators and denied access to vital evidence when the latter visited Berlin earlier of the month of May to verify the causes of Aamir's death. Additional Director General FIA Tariq khosa told the senate committee few days back that Cheema's hands were tied and the main vein of his heart was cut off, which clearly indicated that the Pakistani national was murdered. It is a case of murder, an FIR against German police should be registered in Pakistan and Interpol help be sought for repatriation of the accused, majority of people expressed.
Aamir's father, Nazeer Cheema and his family members refused to accept "the fabricated suicidal killing". According to his parents, Aamir was a devout Muslim, committed to his religious beliefs and tenets and thus it was beyond his mind to terminate his life in a prohibited way of Islam. According to Aamir's maternal uncle and father of the victim, he has a passion towards Jihad and martyrdom. If he had contemplated suicide, why would he delay so long? Is German police ended up his life by subjecting him to inhuman torture during interrogation? Cheema's father narrated that his son was not produced before the court even after 90 days of his arrest. Therefore, there was no logic of keeping him under arrest without any charges. His initial hearing was due in next four days which would have exposed German police's torture, hence he was killed, he further said. The German police never allowed any single person to view the dead body.
Cheems's death elicited a strong note of protests from students, political and religious parties and Ulema back in home and a strong voice had been approved by the parliament, demanding a complete enquiry and severe punishment for those responsible. Taking stock of the whole scenario, no brain points towards the possibility of a self-killing. However, despite a robust protest by a parliament and public circles, the government of Pakistan lodged no official protest against a country known for propagating its adherence to tenets of law, justice and "human rights". The issue clearly highlighted the obvious weakness of under-developed state that has no ethical, moral or physical courage to even demand or protest such an "isolated" case involving with advanced or developed nation.
The most distressing thing about all was the indifferent and casual attitude shown by the government of Pakistan, particularly the foreign office towards the inhuman killing of Amir Cheema. The Pakistani embassy and foreign office remained aloof and shown no interest in his release neither in pursuing this case. Pakistan consulate came to know about issue on 18th April, right at the time when this case was raise in the parliament. It was only then that the matter was formally taken up with the German officials. The German police claimed that Aamir committed suicide on 3rd May, 2006 at 0800 hrs. German police and justice ministry officials informed that he hanged himself.
People across the country lambasted the attitude of the government and protested over its tactics to downplay Aamir's burial ceremony. The establishment forcibly brought dead body to Sroki, while Aamir had already wished to be buried at Jannat-ul-Baqeeh. Shaheed's family and in particular his father was being hurled with tears every now or then. Aamir's family wanted his burial in Rawalpindi as a second option, if not in Saudi Arabia but it was made impossible due to sheer pressure of some officials from Pakistan. People also expressed their anger vexation over the fact that government had tried to keep the funeral time secret and also restrained thousand of people to attend the funeral prayers. The murder of Aamir Cheema has also exposed the dual standards of western world that makes a lot of hue and cry about its commitment to human rights, religious harmony and freedom of expression. However, they kept on bulldozing and rectifying the rights of others, especially of banana republics. All such clamoring is a futile bid to hide partiality and prejudice rampant in a so called "secular" west.
The government of Pakistan should focus in improving the working of its consulates, embassies and high commissions to make them unable in playing a conducive role to protect the rights and ensuring the security and welfare of its expatriates. It is a bitter reality in knowing that, most of Pakistani diplomats never get in touch with their country mates abroad and therefore are almost oblivion to their hardships. On special festivals and national days, selective gathering of elites gathered around the diplomats. Such 'muddles' need to be critically sorted out; otherwise these appalling occurrences would continue to crop up.
Aamir Cheema laid his life not for personal vendetta but rather fell martyr while avenging the blasphemy, committed against the Holy Prophet (pbuh). His actions were sufficient enough to teach the entire World a lesson about the prevalent courage and reverence of the Muslims for the Holy Prophet (pbuh).
Aamir truly is a successor of Ghazi Ilmud-Din Shaheed, who was sentenced to death by the English court for murdering a blasphemous Hindu, Rajpal during a British Raj. Aamir Cheema proved to this world that not just a bearded (normally confused with fanatics) but educated Muslims like him can do anything for the love and passion of the Prophet, Muhammad (pbuh). Aamir is a son of this nation, who made all of us swollen with pride, no matter government has not realized the importance of this sacrifice. Aaamir Cheema is undoubtedly, a martyred (shaheed) who sacrificed his life for a cause without fearing against the wrath of super-powers. He will remain alive in our hearts forever, he is still alive but government of Pakistan is not aware of it and it never will be.
Published in The Frontier Post on 4th June, 2006 & The Post on 1st July, 2006.
MUHAMMAD MAHTAB BASHIR