On 14 July 2016, 55-year-old Seraiki intellectual, writer and human rights activist Zafar Lund was shot by two unidentified assailants outside of his home in Kot Addu, Punjab Province, Pakistan.
Born in Shadan Lund village, Zafar was the head of the NGO Hirrak Development Centre, the founder of Sindhu Bachao Tarla, a civil society forum which aims to protect water rights and the communities dependent on the Indus River in Kot Addu, and was a leading voice for the people affected by a nuclear power project being set up in the city.
Nicknamed the founder of Seraiki resistance, he promoted local Seraiki culture and supported the rights of the child and the access to education for disadvantaged populations in Southern Punjab, in a Seraiki-speaking region which has been deprived of economic and political attention from the regional capital of Lahore.
During his last public appearance, on 6 June 2016, he held a rally for the people displaced by the nuclear power project and said: “All electricity-related mega projects are being built in Muzaffargarh district, and people of this area are only the victims of these projects, not beneficiaries. No jobs have been provided to Seraiki people in the electricity projects such as Muzaffargarh thermal power plants and Kot Addu Power Project and coal power plants.”
Zafar’s most recent activism was centered around the forced displacement of local populations by the emerging regional talibanization phenomenon. As an outspoken activist and a vocal Ahmadi Muslim at the same time, he was always on the radar of Islamic fundamentalist terrorists who have openly called for violence against members of various religious minorities including Ahmadis. Declared non-Muslims by the Pakistani government in 1974 and prohibited from publicly professing their beliefs, Ahmadis in Pakistan are shunned within the mainstream and hounded by extremists.
Christian Solidarity Worldwide’s South Asia Team Leader Steven Selvaraj said: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Zafar Lund. We urge the Pakistani government to consult with civil society with regards to what security measures can be implemented for their greater protection, and to ensure that the perpetrators of these crimes are not treated with impunity, which will only fuel further violence against human rights defenders”.
After Zafar passed away, a large number of people and social workers gathered at his residence and paid him a tribute especially for his work for displaced people after the Taunsa Barrage and fishermen of the river Indus areas.
Zafar left behind three sons, one daughter and a widow.