A CHURCH of Scotland minister, who lost his mother and other relatives when a suicide bomber attacked a Christian church in Pakistan, is hoping to raise money to bring his injured niece to Scotland for treatment.
The Reverend Aftab Gohar, of Abbotsgrange Parish Church in Grangemouth, was preparing to lead his own congregation when the attack occurred in All Saints Church in Peshawar, Pakistan, on Sunday, 22 September.
Mr Gohar lost his 79-year-old mother Iqbal, his 11-year-old nephew, nine-year-old niece, two uncles, cousins and friends in the suicide bombing that left 122 dead and around 170 injured.
He travelled to Peshawar to help bury his dead relatives and care for those who were injured, including his 23-year-old niece, Farah Javed, who was paralysed from the waist down in the attack.
Yesterday Mr Gohar, who returned to Grangemouth earlier this week, launched an appeal for help to bring Ms Javed to Scotland for medical treatment that could help her to walk again.
Ms Javed, 23, who was training to be a beautician, has little hope of receiving proper treatment or rehabilitation in her home country, Mr Gohar said.
“I lost my mum, my nephew and niece, cousins and uncles as well as many friends,” he said. “My sister Rubina’s daughter Farah was one of those injured. All of the others who were injured in this tragedy are receiving treatment for fractures and other injuries, but only she is left because there is no treatment for her.”
“In the government hospital they covered people’s wounds with bandages and sent them home. One nephew is in a private hospital where he has had four operations to treat his shattered arm.
“But there is a problem with Farah’s spinal cord tissues and she’s paralysed from the waist down. Doctors say there is nothing they can do there and she will remain like that.
“I don’t want to leave her in this state and, if possible, I want her to come to Scotland. I’m praying we can do something.”
Mr Gohar brought a copy of Ms Javed’s medical records and X-rays to show doctors here.
“Scotland is a well-developed country. I believe if she comes here she will find treatment,” he said.
The minister thanked Scots for their prayers and support. Now he hopes support can be found for his niece so that she can enjoy a better life in this country.
She is currently confined to a hospital bed in a sparsely equipped ward. “Rubina, who is my older sister, was not in the church but her children were there and three of them are badly injured. Farah’s grandad was killed.
“Farah is speaking and she can move her arms and hands, but not other parts of her body. She was studying to become a beautician, but now everything is gone.
“The visa policy is very strict and I need to consult with doctors to find out what the possibilities are. Then we need finances, sponsorship for her and her mother to come here, and the cost of her treatment.
“I am only a Church of Scotland minister – I can’t do everything, but I can do everything I can.”
Mr Gohar was ordained in the Church of Pakistan in 1995, before travelling to Scotland in 1998. He was inducted as Abbotsgrange minister in 2010.