She loved Pakistan too much…

Published: November 11, 2014

There were speculations in the media relating to her death with some absurd theories circulating that she burnt herself to death

My first interaction with her was back in late 2010. I read her letter-to-the-editor in Dawn, expressing her disappointment about her fellow students’ indifference to the prevailing conditions in the country and how the NED University of Engineering and Technology (NEDUET) administration, which boasts of maintaining a non-political environment at campus, fails to take notice of chalking done by a specific political group.

The audacity in Ms Nabiha Chaudhry’s words made an impact on me. After finding her online on Orkut, I dropped her a message appreciating her bold stance and hoped that I would get to meet her, as my first year at NED was about to start in a few months. Those were the days when dictatorship under Pervez Musharraf was in full swing and a crackdown on the media and judiciary had just begun. A lot of activism was seen from the civil society in different parts of Pakistan but hardly any reaction was found in Karachi. There was this apathetic attitude in the educational institutes here as to what was happening around, which was in sharp contrast to the students’ protests we saw at the University of the Punjab (PU), the Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS) and the likes.

By starting off discussions on online forums with like-minded students, the efforts of Ms Chaudhry and others like her eventually culminated in the formation of the Constructive Students Network (CSN) – a students’ group in NED. The aim of this group was not to carry out violent protests but to create a thought-provoking process in the younger generation that could have much longer-lasting effects.

CSN was in no way similar to the other societies operating in NED at that time – the basic objective was to spread the ideology that we, as students, represented the educated class of Karachi and hence we should rise above our differences of ethnicity, race and religion to work for a common cause; for the betterment of Pakistan. And Ms Chaudhry, no doubt, succeeded in instilling this belief in hundreds of people.

I became a part of this journey when I attended one of their first meetings and was inspired by the passion and determination found in this small group. In contrast to the pessimism commonly found amongst engineers when it comes to talking about the future of their country where the most important topic of conversation becomes how fast they can move abroad, here was a person trying to convince others that Pakistan is all we have.

Instead of lamenting over the dismal situation in the education sector, we were made to realise how much investment was being endowed in our engineering degrees by the government. These degrees were accepted world over and we paid a nominal fee because of the subsidised fees. Thus, the educated youth had to recognise their role and responsibility as citizens of the state. We had to enhance our capacity in terms of leadership, decision-making, policy implementation and firmness of principles in order to be able to work towards its progress.

And all this came from the brave girl who had witnessed her father being killed because he had made efforts to end all political influence in the educational institute he was heading. And to top it all off, her family never got justice on that case from the prevailing system. There existed no apparent reason for her to still have faith in this country and the system that it was running. But despite that, all her efforts were directed towards the cause of developing a strong sense of nationality and patriotism among the youth of Pakistan and making them prioritise objectivity of national interest over individual gains.

My first of many projects under her leadership was a seminar on “How to counter the brain drain in Pakistan” in early 2008, where we tried to give the students of NED the hope that despite the air of nepotism and corruption that surrounds us, there were practical examples of people who, through their ingenuity, made their way forward and were now excelling in their respective fields in Pakistan.

Seven years later, I am now pursuing a fully-funded MS degree from one of the largest university networks in USA, from their department in petroleum engineering which is highly funded and top ranked in the world. Residing near the energy capital of the world, where headquarters of all major oil and gas companies are located, I see many fellow graduates easily getting enticed by their high salary packages and lifestyles they offer for working in the US and Middle East. But despite all that, I am still trying to carry the spirit and message that I got from our first project and look forward to returning back to Pakistan after my graduation.

Why, one may ask?

Because of the patriotism instilled within me by Ms Chaudhry. Her belief that no matter how dark the night, somehow the sun will rise once again and all shadows will be chased away, still make me believe in the Pakistan she envisioned, the Pakistan she glorified. I recall an incident where, after an extended power outage in Karachi, she told us:

“… and hope you all are not just cursing the KESC but probing the matter and deciding yourselves that there will be a day these problems will no longer exist. We will bring that morning to our country, InshaAllahHum dekhein ge, laazim hai ke hum hi dekhein ge! (We will see it; it’s imperative that we will see it).”

There were speculations in the media regarding her death and absurd theories were tossed around about how she burnt herself to death. The only thing she ever ignited was passion, spirit and patriotism in the hearts of her students and all those she met. She reiterated again and again that we should believe firmly in Allah (SWT), never give up against obstacles in life, have an optimistic frame of mind and work for the cause of a better and sustainable future of Pakistan.

That is all I believe about my mentor, friend and older sister – Nabiha Chaudhry.

Syed Munib Ullah Farid

Syed Munib Ullah Farid

A proud Pakistani who is currently doing his masters in Petroleum Engineering from Texas A&M University. He tweets as @SMUF_ (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • naeem khan

    death is always tragic but facts should not be twisted the autopsy report has clearly proven that this was suicide and she burnt herself her writing has also pointed to the reason which was unrequited love whenever there is a case of suicide we as a society are in a habit of twisting the facts mainly because of the taboos attached to suicideRecommend

  • MA

    You seem to make a case that she could not commit suicide because she was full of hope but are not telling us what you think is the cause of her death. If you know something, now is a time to make a noise to get her justice.Recommend

  • fazal

    Munib I second you! Nabiha Chaudary was surely a mentor for many students who met her. Her love and passion for our dear homeland can never be forgetten. Like you, I am also studying abroad on scolarship and with every passing day I stick to my plan to go back and serve Pakistan.Recommend

  • Asad

    accept my heartiest condolences on this loss. And I really appreciate your strong will to come back and serve Pakistan. May Allah help you fulfill all your goals :)Recommend

  • Danish Ahmed

    This land require blood and sacrifices, i salute who wants to compromise, sacrifice and bear the hardship which shows their patriotism, dedication and commitment. There are a lot of silent patriotic heroes and heroines in Pakistan who have made an extra ordinary achievement for us to even breathe in this jungle. Individually its all about priorities, some has dream to be professionally successful, some wants a secure environment to progress ultimately its not all about money and lifestyle.Recommend

  • Justice4Nabiha

    Whoever the genius Naeem Khan may be, my humble request is to not comment at all if one is not knowledgeable. Even the most illiterate people know that autopsy reports do not mention if some one has been killed or has killed him/herself and if you are so sure about that then I demand you produce the report and also the writings since you seem to be the one who has made the report himself. So please educate yourself before writing and yes, I do agree with you that facts should not be twisted and that is my advice to whoever you are as well. Whatever Munib has written is known to the world and whatever you have written may be known to only those who are trying to cover themselves up by cooking stories. Her writings???? Yes, the world knows and has seen her writings so anyone trying to malign her will be maligned by not just the world but also hereafter so beware!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    Well I would like to ask some questions.
    Petrol fires do not cause “blasts” and eyewitnesses say they heard a blast from her room. (Yes sometimes there are back-drafts, but only when the whole building is on fire not a single person)
    Petrol does not take a long time to burn, it is a very very fast burning liquid. Autopsy shows that her smoke inhalation was very very high, meaning that she was alive for a long time “inside” the fire.
    Autopsy says “there were no torture marks”, but this is almost 100% false. Fire destroys most ligature marks and Pakistan does not have the equipment to test for blunt force trauma in charred remains, therefore the report is most likely lying about this.Recommend

  • sc

    Yes Nabiha was a great mentor a person who devoted every moment of her life for betterment of her country,just like her father,both were paid in the same way. I know she is looked upon as a blessed soul,who has left a lesson behind. Still i would say please think before to wish to come back and serve your country,who cares for truth here,wonder how much trust naeem khan has on this autopsy reportRecommend

  • Justice4Nabiha

    Whoever the genius Naeem Khan may be, my humble request is to not
    comment at all if one is not knowledgeable. Even the most illiterate
    people know that autopsy reports do not mention if some one has been
    killed or has killed him/herself and if you are so sure about that then I
    demand you produce the report and also the writings since you seem to
    be the one who has made the report himself. So please educate yourself
    before writing and yes, I do agree with you that facts should not be
    twisted and that is my advice to whoever you are as well. Whatever Munib
    has written is known to the world and whatever you have written may be
    known to only those who are trying to cover themselves up by cooking
    stories. Her writings???? Yes, the world knows and has seen her writings
    so anyone trying to malign her will be maligned by not just the world
    but also hereafter so beware!!!!!!!Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    I answered him along the same lines. Also there are several inconsistencies in the autopsy report.Recommend

  • naeem khan

    please read carefully before commenting nowhere have i said its written in the autopsy based on the autopsy which was carried out in the best available institution this conclusion was drawn by the investigators if u are not satisfied with autopsy please guide the family to go through another autopsy at a place of u r choice
    also nowhere have i said writings i said writing which was a suicide note found in her room in which she has written herself why she did that also if u r so sure she was killed then i assume u can also point the investigators to at least the motives if not the people whom u believe might be responsible

    i ll again say we as a people are too fond of conspiracy theories i m of the view she committed suicide based on facts before me if u have some facts please provide them to investigators so that they can find the real cause otherwise don’t waste time in cooking up fictionRecommend

  • Spyrogyra

    @Justice4Nabiha: You have a point but are not entirely correct. Autopsy/coroner reports do mention a qualified opinion. For example, if a body is presented as a suicide case, the coroner may opine that a suicide seemed highly improbable. Again, it is not a verdict but a professional opinion.
    Either way, a death is always tragic, especially of people who are as loved and respected as Nabiha.Recommend

  • Hur Hussain Syed

    Love you Munib for writing this beautiful post for my friend, Nabiha!Recommend

  • Muhammad Umair Arif

    No matter how much I disagree with Nabiha.. She was a gem for our homeland.. We really have lost a great person! A very well written article brother!Recommend

  • Sabeen Sajjad

    The more you guys focus on her death the more her good work will be overshadowed by conspiracy theories. The substantial evidence is more tilted towards the unfortunate fact of suicide but her family has recourse available to approach CJP or CJP- Punjab to reinvestigate the whole matter. We should not forget she was just a trainee officer her mother told she bore no enmity with anyone then why would somebody kill her??? Pray for her soul as much as you canRecommend

  • Sabeen Sajjad

    Why there is so much silence from her family and friends about this guy Umar?? who was he??? what she has to do with Nabiha ? Why she was calling him constantly ?? suicide or no suicide he holds the key to this caseRecommend

  • JusticeForNabihaCh

    For your information, all the facts and possible evidence supporting the theories has been provided to the police department but her family and friends are not expecting justice from the police. All her belongings that were taken into custody have not been returned and shared with the family as yet despite the fact that almost a month has went by since Nabiha’s death. Not only that, the autopsy report has not been shared with the family and they have not been taken in confidence about the probe into the evidence provided by them. Clearly, people are too fond of jumping to conclusions based on baseless stories shown on media without the proper knowledge of details. Her family has every right to believe in what they do and then express it on platforms available to them in light of their experiences and knowledge.Recommend

  • Nabiha’s Junior

    That is all WE believe about our mentor, friend and older sister Nabiha Chauhdry. Thank you Munib for writing this!Recommend

  • Sabeen Sajjad

    The more you are stuck with her death the more her good philanthropic work will be overshadowed by this conspiracy theory of suicide or murder. The unfortunate fact is that the dice is heavy loaded against the suicide argument based on circumstantial evidence unless her family gets a recourse from CJP or elsewhere. We must not forget she was just a trainee office in Audit & Accounts and her mother told she bore no enmity with anyone ,neither she was from a political dynasty then what are reasons for declaring it a murder and making it more controversial. I request to make special prayers for herRecommend

  • FT

    May Allah bless her soul… and give everyone will to take Pakistan ahead…
    So sorry… but Wht does one mean by silence from family and friends? A famile who had struggled for one member death years ago… n now this case.. how would they advertise that they are fighting for justice??? anything to mention for our media???Recommend

  • Shafaq Tariq

    Very nicely written. This actually speaks about the true vision Nabiha Api had! Thank you Munib.Recommend

  • Nida

    Great piece of writing, she was indeed a gem as mentioned by her naani too….justice is all I am praying for!Recommend

  • Nedian

    She was a great person. Really a loss for the country. A thorough investigation should be done. Who was this guy she was calling on phone as per media; her diary and if her family has any records. All should be brought in front of police.

    If one asks me I will say I cannot believe it is suicide. However, Lets be fair I know only one side of her personality regarding social activism and on that side she was really a very brave and strong person. Only her family and very close people should have an idea what happened to her. If it is a murder than her family should participate in full inquiry,though our system is inefficient it still works to some degree. If her family is not co-operating and pursuing legal procedures, then it is still understandable to some degree tht they want to keep things private or are concerned about safety. Our society is brutal and it can bring harm and bad reputation to other members/girls of family. So I fully support whatever her family decides in greater good. Despite the circumstances and cause of her death I will always have great respect for her.Recommend

  • Mistified

    Silence is felt by only those who are not aware of things themselves so I suggest you go through things and then rephrase whether there is silence or not. Oh Really!!!! Was she calling Umar Constantly and you are aware of that? Then I suppose you are Umar because no one else knows that……….Recommend

  • Mistified

    Silence is felt by only those who are not aware of things themselves so I suggest you go through things and then rephrase whether there is silence or not. Oh Really!!!! Was she calling Umar Constantly and you are aware of that? Then I suppose you are Umar because no one else knows that……….Recommend

  • Justice4Nabiha

    Again……….. I demand that you provide the suicide note that you are so sure of, which means you have seen it yourself (or may be you have written it)
    Who are you who has seen all the facts when the family itself is being kept in dark for obvious reasons? and all this crap is being exploited in the media without evidence for people like you to believe so be it that way because it doesn’t really matter what every Tom, Dick and Harry says………… As for providing evidence to the investigation team, thank you very much for the brilliant advice because had you not said so people would not do that because only you are the wise one which is so very visible from your conspiracy theories and the fiction that you have cooked up in your posts…………
    You are right in saying its better to not cook stories here because that suits well on you as well………… We now understand how these conspiracy theories are built in this country because there are a lot of people like you around
    Those who really matter and those who are involved in this know the facts and evidences so your theories and opinions do not matter and I suggest you keep them to yourself because this article written by Munib is purely about how Nabiha was, if people like you want to drag things in another direction when it wasn’t even suited here then you probably need to be investigated as well by the police as to who you may be who is trying hard to write foolish lies without evidence…… you maybe the culprit who knows????Recommend

  • Justice4Nabiha

    Can you please get in touch with me on her face book page ‘justice4nabiha’? Would appreciate that. ThanksRecommend

  • Justice4Nabiha

    Thank you for the advice. I suggest you take the advice you have given as well since you are the one who is focusing on her death rather than her outstanding work narrated by Munib here.
    What we fail to understand is why is every other person concerned about giving advice to what the family should do and what not without knowing the facts??? Is the family bound to tell you what they are doing or what not and if they don’t tell you then you assume they are silent???
    For every one’s information here Nabiha belonged to a highly educated family here who have dealt with a similar very high profile case of her father in the past as well and they know more than any one else how to deal with this too.
    So please, for all those who do not matter focus on her work only if you wish to do so the rest is the family’s concern…….Recommend

  • sc

    Do u think this aggrieved family can still fight for the rights………………after knocking each n every door and asking for justice for Shaheed Muhammad Saleem S.I. and since after police gave their very first version so quick,even when the news was not shared with the family of NABIHA.I think it is wise enough to keep the matters closed specially not sharing with media,yes the friends are in the loop.
    Cold blooded murder of Shaheed Muhammad Saleem on the road, is still not solved by the HIGH UPS.Recommend

  • hanzala

    Who can tell the truth??? Love is blind.Recommend

  • Nazia Shamim

    Justice4Nabiha : By the way who are you to tell everyone what to do and say or what not?? Who gave you the right to be a self appointed advocate of such a pious soul. I bet if Nabiha was alive she would not have put up with brash and immature language you have been using in her name. I and almost all who have read this blog knows and believe that a girl like her cant commit suicide and what her hope and aspirations were , but does that mean everyone should agree with us??? and if they donet , we should respond them with offensive language. Not in her name , not in her name..Recommend

  • Nazia Shamim

    Hats off to Syed Munib Ullah Farid for giving words to the feelings of Nabiha Chaudhry’s admirers, friends and most importantly family. Now a word for whosoever is running this page Justice4Nabiha. Firstly who gave you the right to use offensive language in her name against anyone? Have you been appointed a spokesperson by her family? As much as I know Nabiha , the blogs she used to write, in her party meetings and elsewhere she never responded like the way I see your response to those who don’t share the similar views of her. What do you want everyone to fall in line by such intimidation ??? You cant hold wagging tongues but you can reflect in your posts and response what as a nation we have lost in Nabiha Chaudhry….Not in her name please not in her name.Recommend

  • Nedian

    @hanzla: if you knew her even as little as I do you will respect her. For this Naeem guy and Sabeen: Yes I agree there is no need to make a conspiracy theory out of it; But why are you guys so bent to prove it a suicide as well? Can’t we shut this topic and give her soul peace by praying for her and respecting her for all the good work she did. I am sure her family know the best course to take; they have been to very painful circumstances before as well. Can’t we just sympathize with them? We live in a mean society and there are very few people in our country who are as dedicated as she was. Please move on from whatever personal grudges you had and look the fact that she is no more in this world. May be unintentionally you are maligning her, which really hurts not her family but thousands of many who have utmost respect for her social work.Recommend

  • Far

    Well written and scripted!Recommend

  • Justice4Nabiha

    I suggest you don’t tell me about Nabiha because you don’t know who I am and neither am I bound to tell any one…………..Recommend

  • Sane

    There is a very bleak chance that investigation shall be done on facts. Like many other cases this may also be hushed-up. Police competency and honesty is known to everyone.Recommend

  • Nazia Shamim

    Whosoever you may be is of least concern for anyone. My suggestion is don’t act like a troll in Nabiha Chaudhry’s name. If you desire to be more Christian then the pope without her family’s approval , then please use your own name for that purpose.Recommend

  • punch

    being a person who never knew what good deeds Nabiha has been doing,I would like to quote only one urdu saying “zubane khalq ko naqarae khuda samjho”,a person with so much love for her country and religious bent,and achievements through out…. …..,let the soul of this lady b rest in peace.Recommend

  • punch

    As far as I know Nabiha,she was so patriotic and highly educated religious person,I can only say”zubane khalq ko naqarae khuda samjho”.May her footsteps b followed……….so that her beautiful soul may rest in peace.Recommend

  • JC

    Thank you Munib for writing about the beautiful soul of my sister.
    Dear Sister, I being Nabiha’s sister do appreciate your concern but I would like to say one thing here to you specially that in preaching others have you considered how abusive you are being?? Have you considered your language here? No one but you have asked justice4nabiha who he/she is to defend Nabiha this way, every one here has a right to defend her the way they wish to or feel about her and I do second justice4nabiha as to not be investigative or concerned about whom that may be rather concentrate on what is being written for Nabiha and ignore the rest if you do not agree with others.
    So my request to you as well is to not preach any one as to how they should or should not defend Nabiha as you have rightly said that only ‘we the family’ here have the right so stop or object to things. Yes, I would like to repeat your words here for you ‘Not In Nabiha’s Name’Recommend

  • JC

    Thank you Munib for the beautiful words for my sister.
    My request to all here is to concentrate on what has been written so beautifully by Munib about Nabiha rather than arguing amongst yourselves hence drifting away from the real message here.Recommend

  • Ali

    Amazing tribute to an amazing person. Recite Surah-e-Fatiha for her. May Allah elevate her status more in the best of his Heavens.
    Those who have a physical sciences and engineering background knows this that no flammable/combustible liquid like Gasoline can burn let alone create an explosion unless its concentration is between the range of 1.4 (Lower Explosive Limit) -7.6(Higher Explosive Limit). Its improbable based on scientific reasons that window panes of her room could be broken by vapours emitting from a 1 litre bottle in a dorm room of not more than 50 sq ft. In the developed world, Law Enforcement Authorities have Fire & Explosion Investigators for this purpose. I wonder Punjab Police notorious for their competence or lack of it have even gone beyond the apparent evidence. She is the daughter/sister/friend of not one family but the whole nation and getting justice for her is as noble as getting justice for our own daughters and sisters.Recommend

  • SC

    Looking after your findings i WOULD REQUEST our notorious police too ,please look at the common man also human beings, i think whatever is going on with the police these days in the country is an eye awakening,they are paying back for what they have been doing with the public. I think its true ALLAH KI LATHI BE AWAZ HEYRecommend