Great souls are born once in a blue moon; those who lift their society out of the abhorrent pits of witlessness, and take them to the pinnacles of grandeur. Often, they are born in environments least conducive to their healthful upbringing. And despite it being ridden with patriarchy and misogyny, where hierarchies and where a woman is either conceived to be the least gender or less than that, a rare breed of humanist was born in Pakistan’s society. A woman whose bravery was a ray of sunshine on that dark, fateful August 8th in Quetta.

It was an unfortunate day for Balochistan, when the terrorists had once again singled out Quetta’s lawyers’ ‘fraternity’ and massacred them in cold blood. The details of that day are very grim to recount, the agonies of the ill-fated day of the horrific blast. The day on which we lost human rights activists, defenders of democracy, and above all, the precious souls of Balochistan.

As usual, after the attack, the atmosphere of Pakistan got rotten and uncertain. A lot of people did not come forward to help the injured, rather a growing crowd tried to escape from the blast site to save their lives. However, against the flow, a courageous, and humanist soul, Dr. Shehla Sami Kakar, had intrepidly managed to reach the site at that point to help the victims. She didn’t capitulate in the unprecedented fright and flagrant situation. But probably, she made her way through a growing crowd to help the people in that crisis situation.

After the blast she, however, left the Gynae Department immediately, and walked towards the emergency ward, where the horrifying blast has taken place. The horrifying blast left 73 dead and more than a 100 got injured. Their “bodies lay dead and scattered around the hospital premises” and those who were still alive were crying for help.

Dr. Shehla narrates, “At that time an automatic rifle fire had also been started with an imprudent manner. The immediate thought was that may be they [the ones firing guns] are the terrorists, who are accompanying the one who exploded himself so that the injured lawyers who are on the ground don’t survive.”

The brave and venerable lady also knew the danger to her own life. Despite that, she did not stop. She continued rushing towards the casualty ward. The ward was laced with dust, a strong toxic smell, and the agonizing sounds of people crying for help. The people were either taking photographs or making videos. But they were not coming for the victim’s help in the initial minutes.

Dr. Shehla said, “As I walked deeper into the bomb site, the condition of the casualties appeared to worsen. Most of the staff had darted off, fearing for their lives. I took off the neckties of the injured and used them as bandages and tourniquets to staunch the profuse bleeding. Heads, torsos, and limbs were gushing blood. How many body parts could I possibly cover with neckties?

“I used whatever cloth was available — coats, shirts and the clothes of relatives of the injured — anything to stop the bleeding and save their lives.”

Here, a question comes to mind: why does such a heroic work always get less attention or is sometimes utterly neglected in Pakistan? I believe, it is due to the lack of people’s compassion and collective thinking for the betterment of society. Secondly, many people who value self-interest above anything else, do not support brave and heroic voices in Pakistan to bring them to the fore.

We did not notice Dr. Shehla’s work 6 years ago. Her humanist work had utterly been neglected, because she did not appear on the media. Hence, we noticed her work and saw her for the first time helping the people on August 8, 2016. But Dr. Shehla has not only helped the victims of August 8, but had also helped the victims of the terrorist attack that took place on October 16, 2010, on Hazara community at the Civil Hospital, Quetta. When the body of Hussain Yousufi, a Hazara Leader, was brought to the hospital, a large throng of people had gathered to mourn his brutal killing. At that time, the main onslaught had already taken place, in which Dr. Shehla had helped the victims with similar passion and enthusiasm.

Dr. Shehla said, “When the 2010 blast took place I was doing a ward round in the Gynaecology Department; all the windows were broken. I left my ward abruptly and rushed toward the casualty ward to help and rescue the victims there in 2010.

“For me, fortunately, no people from the media saw that. No media took my photograph. Although I equally helped those people as well [as the Quetta victims], but people then didn’t know how many people I had helped. And, very sadly, very ironically, after six years, the scenario is the same. Nobody was there to help me then, and nobody was here to help me this year.”

In 2010 there was the same lack of medical facilities with no bandages, no emergency stretchers, and no ambulances available. And exactly the same status quo persisted even after six years. So the motivation was this: that if I can save human lives, I should rush in; this is a God given opportunity and I should not lose that.”

Notwithstanding, she used all possible means to treat the people without any ilk of medical facilities available at the moment. Helping the people in such a situation of crisis is not everybody’s realm. It is the realm of intrepid people, who have the courage, passion and enthusiasm to help humanity.

At present, Pakistan is regrettably facing a lot of difficulties in terms of sectarian and ethnic conflicts, religious terrorism and, above all, regional isolations. Secondly, the terrorist networks have a great influence within the Pakistani society.  So the soldiers are fighting them at the borders. They get military awards and their names are remembered. So the terrorists are within, their means pursued and ends sought are very much problematic. They can be fought from within.

For Dr. Shehla, the quest for serving humanity, being the sacrosanct objective of life, reflects the sacred notion of bravery and humanism. A venerable, brave, and humanistic woman – the iron lady of Quetta deserves to be awarded with Nishan-e-Shujaat, the highest civil award in Pakistan. Because her works and humanistic endeavors for the well-being of the people and society at large are very much needed to be emulated.