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Wasim Zaman, 65

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014
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News that among the nine people brutally slain by the Taliban at the Serena Hotel in Kabul on 20 March was Wasim Zaman came as a shock to the many friends the Bangladeshi population expert had made in Nepal.

Spotlightnepal.com

Spotlightnepal.com

Zaman, 65, was the Central and South Asia head of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) based in Kathmandu from 1999-2004 and was popular among government officials in the region and his large Nepali and expat social circle in Kathmandu. After retiring from the UN, Zaman had joined the Kuala Lumpur-based International Council on Management of Population Programmes, which had a project in Afghanistan.

Thursday’s attack came two weeks before Afghanistan’s presidential election and four of the dead were foreigners. An Afghan journalist with Agence France-Presse, Sardar Ahmad, his wife and two small children were among the others who were killed execution style by the assassins. The Serena Hotel has several layers of security, but the gunmen smuggled tiny pistols past the
guards and waited for the restaurant to fill up for a Afghan new year dinner before shooting people as they sat on their tables. Another Bangladeshi person was also among those killed.

“My father was devoted to the welfare of human beings all his life,” his daughter Fariha Zaman told a Bangladeshi news service from New York, “he was killed while trying to serve the people of Afghanistan.” His three daughters live in the US, while his wife is in Kuala Lumpur.

Zaman was back in Kathmandu last year for a regional South Asian consultation to prepare for the UN’s Special General Assembly on Population and Development later in 2014. In an interview while in Kathmandu he expressed worries that funding for population activities in South Asia was drying up.

Before joining the UN, Zaman was a journalist with Dhaka Television and a correspondent for the Bangladesh Observer.

Kunda Dixit

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