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Zeeshan Akbar's family journey from Pakistan to Canberra to document his life in Australia

19 May 2017 2:44 PM
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A month after Zeeshan Akbar was stabbed to death while working at a Queanbeyan petrol station, his dad and uncle journeyed from Pakistan to document the new life he made in Australia.

They promised his ill mother, who was too overcome with grief to travel, they would make and send her a video of all the people and places he loved.

First was the sunset view of Telstra Tower from the balcony the 29-year-old called his parents from each night.

Speaking through a translator and tears, Akbar's father Mohammad Akbar Asabi said his son vowed to someday show them that view.

"He would stand with a cup of tea on his balcony and call us as the sun starts to set, so we recorded the view of the mountains from there," he said.

"We recorded everything about where Zeeshan lived and met with the community."

"Everyone said he was a good guy; it encouraged me to tell my wife he was loved here as much as home."

He grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, and migrated to Melbourne on a skilled visa in 2009 to become a mechanic. Six years later he moved to Queanbeyan on a skilled regional visa and quickly became a much-loved staff member at Queanbeyan Caltex.

Asabi and his brother, Dr Nizam Niaz Shaikh, spent a week in Canberra making the hour-long video which had Akbar's favourite songs and commentary from his friends.

The guitar Akbar played songs on to his mother, Shamim Akhtar, were among the belongings they recorded for her.

Akhtar asked to see the cricket field where her son bowled four overs and claimed two wickets for 23 runs in his last game. She wanted to see the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex, where he often visited to marvel at the universe. She trembled at footage of the flower-covered memorial where died, and broke down when each card and message was read to her.

They recorded inside the Caltex, including the counter and the spot he was stabbed. Shaikh wanted to know more about each chapter of his life, even the devastating last, Asabi said.

But most of all, she wanted to meet the friends that became his makeshift family. Akbar's best friend and housemate, Adnan Amjid, read her a message from their cricket team.

"Zeeshan's contribution to the community and his friends and family was inspiring to everyone he knew," it read.

"He always had been a gem of a person and the first respondent to any help or cause."

Asabi expressed appreciation of the $25,000 donated to a Go Fund Me page Adnan set up in the wake of Akbar's death. The family relied solely on Akbar's income. Without the money the Canberra and wider community raised, Asabi said he would have had to sell their house. He had no plan for when the money exhausts, as was retired and his wife was sick.

His immediate concern was his wife's unbearable grief, he said, before becoming emotional.

"She is always crying, weeping, with every moment and memory, whatever she is doing," he said.

He said they'd forever grapple with the brutal and senseless death of their son in a country where he sought safety. They had one less child's future to worry about when they farewelled Akbar off to "safe Australia," they wrongly thought.

Asabi said he was confident those responsible for the killing would be brought to justice.

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