PESHAWAR: “I had asked Shaheed Tahira Qazi not to take any further extension as I thought she had gone old now,” Col (Retd) Qazi Zafarullah, the spouse of the Shaheed Tahira Qazi told The Nation.

Principal of the Army Public School (APS), Warsak Road Peshawar, Shaheed Tahira Qazi was among those 142 martyred including 132 students, who were killed, when militants attacked on the APS on December 16, 2014. Upon her bravery and gallantry, Tahira Qazi was awarded Sitara-I-Shujat.

As I know that she was always the first to arrive at school and the last to leave. Her extension period was set to conclude in May 2015. Before it happened, I had asked her not to take further extension, Col. (Retd) Qazi Zafarullah, who had got retirement from the army as colonel in 1996 said.

Hailing from Landi Yarghajo in the provincial metropolis, Col. (Retd) Qazi Zafarullah said she was born on July 1, 1951 in Mardan. Shaheed Tahira Qazi was his cousin – his aunt’s daughter. In October 1980, she was married to him. Tahira had got her early education from a school in Risalpure and graduated from Women College Mardan. She had completed her master's from University of Peshawar in English literature.

Col. (Retd) Qazi said that Tahira Qazi was a great educationist. She had great love for education and knowledge. Along with that she was a brilliant administrator. “Though it was a boys' institution, but out of her sheer administrative qualities, she was made its principal.”

The retired colonel said that his late wife Tahira Qazi had joined the APS in 1994, the year when the institution was established. Before joining the APS she was teaching at Presentation Convent School in Peshawar. She was elevated as principal of APS in 2006. She was given two extensions as principal on expiry of her tenure.

It was her regular routine to prepare tea for me before leaving for school. But on that ill-fated day, she was in hurry and she asked the servant to prepare tea and she left and left forever… “That day, my elder sister had also visited my house. We were at home, when my son called me on phone and told me about the APS attack,” he said.

Col. (Retd) Qazi Zafrullah said that he made repeated attempts to reach her on her cell phone. But all the times he found her number busy. At one attempt, her phone got disconnected. “I could not talk to her.” Col. (Retd) Qazi Zafrullah, who is the pioneer of Entry Testing and Evaluation Agency (ETEA) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa said that ‘I lost my world that day’. “I couldn't live a single day happy since then. I have my elder sister with me since then. Apart from being my wife, she was my very best friend. I miss her very much.” We used to discuss issues and watch television together. She liked dramas on television and I liked watching cricket, Qazi Zafrullah said.

Mother of two sons and a daughter, he said she had great love for her children. “My elder son is 31-years-old. But he is mentally challenged. His intelligence quantum level is that of an eight-year-old boy. She would take great care of all her kids especially the challenged one,” he said.

Shaheed Tahira Qazi was very brave woman for two reasons, first she was hailing from a brave family and second she was the wife of a military officer. After the marriage, she would accompany him anywhere he was posted. “I had trained her how to fire,” he said. She sacrificed her life in defense of the students.

Col. (Rted) Qazi Zafrullah said that there were threats to schools. But they didn't expect the intensity of the attack. It was due to the threats that my wife kept her rout changing to the school. She would often come home two hours later than closure of the school. Whenever he would ask her the reason for coming late to home, she would reply that she leaves the school after making it sure that all the kids have reached their homes safe and sound.

One thing that soothes me is that there is nothing superior than martyrdom and she got this great status. I feel proud to be the spouse of a martyr. We have arranged a Khatmul Quran and 'Khairat' on December 19 for her departed soul, he concluded.