ISLAMABAD - Pakistan has confirmed that at least nine of its citizens are among the dead in Friday’s terrorist attack on worshippers in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. The government also has announced that one of the slain Pakistanis who tried to confront the attacker will receive a national award.
Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi released a statement Sunday in which he said three Pakistanis previously listed as missing have now been confirmed dead: “Mr Zeeshan Raza, his father Mr Ghulam Hussain and mother Ms. Karam bibi have now been confirmed to have embraced shahadat [martyrdom] in the terrorist attack in New Zealand. We are in touch with their family. A total of 9 Pakistanis embraced shahadat in New Zealand terror attack,” he said.
The Christchurch attacks killed 50 people and injured dozens more. The gunmen live-streamed the terror attack on Facebook.
'Hero' to receive national award
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan tweeted Sunday “We stand ready to extend all our support to the families of Pakistani victims of the terrorist attack in Christchurch. Pakistan is proud of Mian Naeem Rashid who was martyred trying to tackle the White Supremacist terrorist & his courage will be recognized with a national award.”
Rashid, 50, can be seen in the video trying to overpower the assailant after his young son, Talha Naeem, was gunned down but he was critically wounded in the process and later died in a local hospital. Another son of Rashid was said to be injured and under treatment in a hospital.
A banker by profession, the slain Pakistani man went to New Zealand in 2009 for further studies. He earned a post-doctorate degree and worked as a teacher there, said relatives and friends in Pakistan.
Foreign Minister Qureshi told reporters that families of six victims have decided for their loved ones to be buried in New Zealand while relatives of three other victims requested their remains to be transported back to Pakistan.
The government, he said, will officially mourn the tragic killings of Pakistanis on Monday when the national flag will fly at half mast.
Earlier, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesman said Rashid and his son will be buried in Christchurch. Mohammad Faisal noted a local Muslim and Pakistani association in the city has assisted in putting the burial arrangements in place.
Qureshi announced Sunday that Turkey will host an emergency meeting of the Council of Foreign Ministers of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), an umbrella organization of Muslim countries, to discuss “the causes, impacts and way forward" in the aftermath of the New Zealand attack.
"The idea [behind summoning the OIC meeting] is to devise a strategy against rising Islamophobia [in West] while keeping the Christchurch tragedy in mind,” said the Pakistani foreign minister.