Hedayatullah Zaheer “Zee” Khan, Afghan Youth Leader and Peace Activist, Killed in Bomb Attack on Jalalabad Cricket Stadium


Mr. Khan, right, with President of Afghanistan Ashraf Ghani.

The Rockefeller Brothers Fund was devastated to learn that Hedayatullah Zaheer Khan, who worked with RBF grantee San Diego-Jalalabad Sister Cities Foundation, was among eight people killed by a series of explosions at a cricket stadium in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, on Friday May 18, 2018. The attack also left 45 people wounded.

Khan, who was known to friends and colleagues as Zee, dedicated his life to uniting people and creating peace. He was a passionate and courageous leader who worked to empower the marginalized and unite communities across ethnic, cultural, and socio-economic divides. He believed ardently in his country and inspired all who crossed his path with his unwavering vision for a prosperous and peaceful Afghanistan. Zee was respected by both tribal leaders and government officials. His ideas and advice were sought by local institutions and international agencies.

Just 32 years old at the time of his death, Zee was known for the poetry festivals, cricket matches, and other public events he organized, as well as the computer labs he built in isolated border communities. Creating shared spaces for human connection, he believed, was the key to sustainable peace. In April, Zee participated in an RBF-supported conference of young leaders working together toward the realization of a common vision for Afghanistan.

Zee was also an avid cricket player. He coached young players in Eastern Afghanistan and was in the process of creating a women’s cricket academy and team. Over the past decade, he led several youth cricket tournaments, including the “Ramazan Cup” match targeted in Friday’s attacks.

“Zee was such a remarkable young man—his optimism was infectious,” said Stephen Heintz, president of the Rockefeller Brothers Fund. “He represented the future and threatened the forces of the past. The Fund and our partners will carry his spirit in our continuing work in Afghanistan, the country he loved so dearly.”

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