Toba Tek Singh (AsiaNews) - A model of Christian activism, like the late great Anthony Mathew and Clement Shahbaz Bhatti, people who died (too) early, but who have left their mark on the map of Pakistan and pointed to a way forward. So says Atif Jamil Pagaan, social worker and director of Harmony Foundation, remembering the Pakistani Catholic activist Ashfaq Fateh, who died recently after a brief illness at the age of 41. The funeral took place on April 20 in city district of Toba Tek Singh, Punjab province, in front of a huge crowd made up of Christians and Muslims, from all classes and backgrounds.
His death has caused deep sorrow and participation throughout the community, which has come together in prayer to bid a final farewell to a person who was at the forefront in the struggle for the development of the Christian minority and its presence within the civil society. Many tributes were paid to his wife Salome, whom he married in 1997 and with whom he had made several trips (one of them to India), one of his many passions. In recent weeks, the doctors tried in every way to remove a liver tumor, but the disease was already in an advanced stage.
However, his witness of life and faith remains. Ashfaq Fateh was passionate about media and communication, a lover of travel with a deep desire to learn languages - especially English - and improve his own cultural level (and not only). He was also very close to Fr. Bonnie Mendes, former Regional Coordinator for Caritas and active in social work, who guided him over the years in his spiritual formation and education. In fact, it is thanks to the priest that he drew close to the world of the media - especially television and news - and the study of English.
As a young man, Ashfaq represented Pakistan in a meeting between Catholics from around the world which was held in Caracas, Venezuela, thanks to visa obtained through the Iranian Embassy. A document that allowed him to visit Tehran, where he met with Dominican priests in the Islamic Republic. His memory is linked to environmental activism, the desire to strengthen inter-religious dialogue and his witness of Christian and Catholic life, which he never gave up. In his career he also directed and guided the Ravi Foundation, a nongovernmental organization that deals with the most needy and served as teacher and principal of St. Peter High School.