17 funerals to upstage family wedding

Published: September 30, 2013

Relatives and residents offer funeral prayers for blast victims in Shabqader on September 29, 2013. PHOTO: AFP

SHABQADAR / CHARSADDA: School peon Sartaj Khan was happy. His younger son, Dilraj Khan, was getting married in a week. Invitation cards were sent out and wedding arrangements were finalised. Then the Qissa Khawani blast happened. And the joy turned into mourning. The family lost 17 members. 

On Sunday, the family hired a Suzuki pickup and left for Peshawar to invite relatives and do the shopping. “Seventeen members of Sartaj’s poor family – including men, women and children – were aboard the pickup. They had contributed money to pay for the rent,” a relative told The Express Tribune.

The pickup pulled up at a popular ice-cream parlour in Qissa Khawani Bazaar when the car bomb went off. Tragically, all 17 family members were killed when the blast ignited a huge fire which engulfed the vehicle.

“I am ruined. All of my family has died except for this little one who was ill and didn’t accompany the family,” said Malak Taj Khan, the elder son of Sartaj, pointing to his seven-year-old son Hamza in his lap. Malak Taj is a soldier in the army and posted in Peshawar. He was home in Shabqadar when the tragedy struck.

Malak Taj lost his wife, two young sons, mother, a brother and sisters. He spoke to The Express Tribune between sobs as mourners cried over eight bodies lined up in his  small house – too small to accommodate the mourners.

“Who will now call me uncle?” said Malak Taj’s brother, Mimraj Khan, a day labourer. “My young nephews, my mother, my brother, my sisters, and my sister-in-law are all dead. Who will look after the shattered family now?”

His brother and would-be groom Dilraj Khan fell unconscious after hearing the tragic news. “Had I knew this wedding would become a doomsday for my family, I would have never agreed to tie the knot,” he said as friends and family members tried to console him.

It was a tragedy not only for Sartaj’s family but for the entire impoverished village – a cluster of mud-houses situated near the Afghan refugees camp Munda. Sartaj Baba, as he’s locally known, was not in the hujra to accept condolences according to Pakhtun traditions. He was at a neighbour’s place as he could not face the sight of eight caskets in the courtyard of his house. His three sons were also dumbfounded – losing consciousness at intervals.

Apart from Sartaj’s family, a close relative Said Afzal also lost his wife and son in the Qissa Khawani Bazaar blast. The driver of the pickup, Bahar Khan, and cleaner, Sohrab Khan, were also related to Sartaj’s family.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 30th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (20)

  • ASQ
    Sep 30, 2013 - 4:11AM

    So fellow countrymen especially PTI supporters this war still isn’t oursRecommend

  • Ali Tanoli
    Sep 30, 2013 - 4:49AM

    Heart breaking so sad news may god punished those responsible of this inhumane act….

    Recommend

  • Kanwal
    Sep 30, 2013 - 4:54AM

    How do you pay condolence to such people? There is not a single word that comes to mind right now.

    Recommend

  • khan
    Sep 30, 2013 - 7:53AM

    Let Imran khan know to give Insaff to these poor people, 17 people from one family, I am speechless

    Recommend

  • Zubia
    Sep 30, 2013 - 9:20AM

    IK and PTI were supposed to bring in a ‘Naya Paksitan’. Is this their version of ‘Naya Pakistan’, bombed and bloodied. Governance of KP was supposed to be a test case of IK and PTI’s; ability to govern. Not only have they clearly failed, I am not sure KP can afford their governance for 5 more years…

    Recommend

  • sars
    Sep 30, 2013 - 10:38AM

    Naya pakistan is one where monsters open offices to facilitate weekly bombings of the innocent.

    Recommend

  • Zeeshan
    Sep 30, 2013 - 12:05PM

    This is huge loss for the family and Pakistan. The issue here is not that simple. There are several groups and few of them are against talks. Our government MUST use force against those groups and eliminate them asap.
    Those groups who are ready to talk, we MUST start talk with them asap.
    I dont understand why there is so much delay in talks.

    Recommend

  • Effendi
    Sep 30, 2013 - 1:20PM

    This is written by someone who has real empathy besides journalistic qualities. I felt the pain reading this piece. I felt the pain the family is going through. Thank you for writing this story. I hope we realize now that there is no humanity in hearts of men, a terrorist should pay for the acts of terror they commit. Please don’t recognize them as stake holders Pakistan. Please do NOT TALK TO THEM.

    Recommend

  • Fahim Pakistani
    Sep 30, 2013 - 2:25PM

    They died in vain ,,,,, Cheap blood of Pakistani citizens ,,,,,, :D

    Recommend

  • ETEX
    Sep 30, 2013 - 3:26PM

    upstage: To divert attention or praise from; force out of the spotlight: a vice president who repeatedly tried to upstage the president.

    How exactly do 17 funerals UPSTAGE a wedding? ET EDITORS ON **

    Recommend

  • Umar
    Sep 30, 2013 - 3:31PM

    With this earthquake I am so worried about the punishments we are about to receive.

    Recommend

  • Nasir Afridi
    Sep 30, 2013 - 3:47PM

    A massive operation without wasting time should be started if Pak wants to eliminate these killers

    Recommend

  • Muhammad
    Sep 30, 2013 - 3:48PM

    We cannot afford to keep the provincial govt of KPK as it is. Too much blood has been spilled with no plan to counter it. De facto chief minister of KPK Imran khan wants to talk with monsters while the monsters are busy killing us. It’s time for an in house change in KPK assembly.

    Recommend

  • Malik Liaquat Hussain
    Sep 30, 2013 - 4:13PM

    If law enforcement agencies are unable to protect people they should sent home and people would protect by themselves.

    Recommend

  • waiting
    Sep 30, 2013 - 4:24PM

    @ETEX:
    Have to agree that the choice of headline is not the best.

    Recommend

  • Dr.A.K.Tewari
    Sep 30, 2013 - 5:26PM

    And they are talking about talk .

    Recommend

  • JK
    Sep 30, 2013 - 6:17PM

    my heart is bleeding…Peshawar is bleeding but not a single policy to counter act yet in placed ..we have been feeding the army for decades and still if they can’t fight then God help us out of this menace.

    Recommend

  • haroon
    Sep 30, 2013 - 7:09PM

    Tears came to my eyes reading this article. I feel sorry for the family. Saying this, we cannot kill more people to stop killing people. We should also realize that how come Taliban suddenly starts attacking more vigorously the moment we talked about negotiations, maybe there is someone else who wants to derail these negotiations but it is governments responsibility to tell us who that ‘someone’ is.

    Recommend

  • ali ahmed
    Sep 30, 2013 - 7:31PM

    we should learn lesson from Sri Lanka….it took 10 years to finished the Tamil sepratist..sucide booming was introduced by these terrorist

    Recommend

  • Sep 30, 2013 - 10:16PM

    This is the third TTP claimed attack in Peshawar in one week, which has killed over 170 people. This coward enemy has taken the lives of 17 people from only one family. In fact, 42 people lost their lives including women and children in yesterday’s blast. Qissa Khawni Bazaar is an ancient and traditional marketplace with a lot of history and character. The blast was designed to cause maximum casualties. Our heart goes out to the family of Sartaj Khan who lost seventeen family members to this attack. Terrorists have no value for human lives; they have never showed any remorse but proudly claimed their horrendous deeds. The enemy knows that it has lost any standing grounds with rejection of terrorism and terrorists’ organizations by the common people of the region. We need to stand together against this evil and fight it with all our might.

    Abdul Quddus
    DET-United States Central Command

    Recommend

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