Areeba, the child left in the car
On most days, 13 year old Areeba would come back from school, gather her siblings, and start playing her favorite game. The rules were simple. Areeba would pretend to be a teacher, her siblings Umair, Muniba and Hadia were her students. Other children from the neighborhood would also be inducted. For the young ones, this was their favorite class, and Areeba, their favorite teacher.
But now that class will never take place again. On Saturday, 19 January, Areeba and her parents along with a family friend Zeeshan were all killed in what the law enforcement agencies has described as an ‘encounter with terrorists’. According to the initial autopsy reports, the teenage girl’s body was riddled with six bullets.
The incident has sent shock waves reverberating across the country. Areeba’s younger siblings were also in the car, and their version of the events contradicts the official story. A video made at the scene by a bystander, showed members of the Counter Terrorism Department removing the three younger children from the car. Areeba, strangely, was left in the car.
The eldest child of Khalil and Nabeela, Areeba was a bright student who wanted to become a doctor when she grew up. Relatives say that Khalil was very happy at the prospect of having a doctor in the family. He ran a general store and wanted a very different future for his children. He encouraged his children, especially Areeba, to study hard.
Over at her school, Areeba’s friends and class fellows are in shock. The grade 7 student was popular amongst students and teachers alike. Her teachers remember her as an intelligent pupil who never created trouble. Her friends remember her as a cooperative comrade who was ready to help anyone out. All of her friends knew about the wedding she was going to attend on that ill fated trip. Areeba had told them all about the new clothes she would wear.
For her uncle Qasim, Areeba was a child like teenager. His voice breaks as he remembers his niece. “She loved children. Not just her own brothers and sisters, but all her cousins. Whenever she would see a young child, she would become one herself too, playing with them just like a kid.”
Outside Khalil’s house, mourners are still in shock. They have many questions but the one they keep on repeating is “When her siblings were removed from the car, why was Areeba left inside to die?”
For now, there are no answers.