Abbas Town tragedy

Letter March 17, 2013
The Abbas Town attack has brought the area's residents closer like never before.

KARACHI: This is with reference to Ejaz Haider’s article of March 13 titled “The Mytilenian Debate and Us”.

This is with reference to his article where he writes that an Ahmadi died in the Abbas Town blasts and that rescue workers allegedly refused to pick up his body.

I have visited Abbas Town a couple of times since the tragedy struck and have had the honour of speaking to some of the Sunni and Shia victims. Anyone from the area can confirm that the rescue work was largely conducted by Shia Scouts and Edhi and Chhipa volunteers using torches and their mobile phones as there was a total blackout after the PMTs caught fire after the blast.

Let us be pragmatic: how could the scouts or the Edhi and Chhipa personnel know the identity of the victims, let alone recognise the sect from looking at the dismembered and mutilated bodies and that even in minimum light? What the writer has written gives a very negative picture of the community as a whole.

Being a trained certified rescue volunteer, with eight years of experience, I can assure your readers that these volunteers and scouts are trained to help the injured and are not trained to identify the religious inclination of the injured or the dead during their work. The man who became an unexpected martyr now has a poster outside his Abbas Town home and it reads: “Mubashir Ahmad Abbasi Shaheed”. The white chart paper also has an arrow — drawn using colourful markers — pointing towards his house. The Abbas Town attack that killed at least 50 people and injured over a hundred others has brought the area's residents closer like never before — irrespective of their ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliations.

One organisation that may have played a role in bringing them together is the Jafaria Disaster Management Cell (JDC). The JDC was established by a number of students in late 2009. It set up camp at Abbas Town on the day of the attack and has been working relentlessly. From providing first-aid medical camps to sending ration packages to the families of the victims, the JDC has been helping scores of families affected by the blasts.

M Muhammad A Hossain

Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2013.