July issue 2002
The Last Day
By Safia Khairi | People | Profile | Published 21 years ago
There he was — his usual charming and respectful self. When he saw me, he came forward and greeted me with warmth.
It was Monday, June 24. We were at a Qaumi Jamhoori Party (QJP) meeting in Defence, Phase II. As we sat and chatted, planning future party strategy, a constant trickle of people from all walks of life streamed in to meet Omar. They asked to join the party. Omar met with all of them, intermittently leaving the room to do so. Each time he left, he said with a smile, “I’ll be back in a few minutes.”
An hour later most of the visitors had gone, and just a few close friends (all members of the Air Marshal’s Tehrik-i-Istiqlal), were left. Omar enthusiastically discussed with us the details of membership, finances and publicity for the party he had founded. As we spoke someone said, “Omar you should be more aggressive, a little more of a dada.” Omar was amused and responded, “Although it goes against the grain, I shall try.”
Over tea and samosas, we all contributed suggestions for the party. I wanted Omar to meet some people in the press, and others connected with TV and radio. He readily complied and said, “give me a date for next week and I’ll be back. As you know I have an interview at Indus Vision tomorrow, and then I’m leaving.” So we discussed dates for the following week.
I had to leave around 7 pm because I was expecting some guests. As always, Omar walked me to the door. I told him that although I was not yet officially a member of the party (I had been away in England for six months), I was with the party. As I was saying goodbye, I put my hand on Omar’s shoulder and said, “You know Omar you are very dear to all of us, because you are the Air Marshal’s son.” He was visibly moved and thanked me.
Later that night Omar went to Bar-B-Que Tonite with Iftikhar Farooqi, another QJP member. Iftikhar dropped him at his brother-in-law’s residence in Gizri at 11 pm.
The next morning he returned to pick up Omar for the Indus Vision interview and was surprised to see he was not waiting for him as he usually did. Like his father, Omar was always extremely punctual and correct. The maid told Iftikhar that Omar was still asleep. Iftikhar asked her to knock at the door, but she said he was not responding and the door was closed. He left perplexed, but tried, along with several others, to contact Omar on his mobile. There was no response.
At about 1:30 pm someone rang from Islamabad to inquire about a rumour that Omar had been shot. We all rushed to Gizri to find a posse of police and rangers, pressmen and hundreds of other people milling around the residence. We waited outside, desperate for some news.
At 2:30 someone came out of the house and announced, “Omar Asghar is dead.” Neither the press nor his party members were allowed inside the house. We begged that Omar’s body be brought on to the lawn so we could have a last glimpse of him, but the request was refused. The police said the family did not want it, the family maintained the police had prohibited it. Everything seemed unreal, except the cold hard reality there was no getting away from: Omar was dead.
He who was so full of hope, with a bright future ahead of him, was gone. Another light was extinguished, another hope for the future of Pakistan shattered. It seems unbelievable that someone so alive and enthusiastic could have ended his life in such a horrible way. Or did he? Whatever the truth, may God rest his soul in peace.