At least eight women, all foreign nationals, escaped the shoot-out at the ill-fated party at DHA’s Khayaban-e-Rahat on June 26 that left six people dead, including Baloch sardar Nawab Akbar Bugti’s grandson Taleh.
A foreign national who was at the party and did not wish to be named, said she was there as were two young women from Finland, two from Russia, one each from China, the Phillipines, Estonia and Sri Lanka. All of them are in their 20s and are in Pakistan to work with high-profile companies on a student exchange/internship programme. Even though at least two weeks have passed since the incident, the foreigners are still badly shaken up and traumatised.
Michelle (not her real name) says they went to the party along with two Pakistani friends who work in the advertising industry. They did not know anything about the hosts or the people there. “We were just told that there was a party going on and we were invited,” she said. “It was only later that night once we had escaped that we found out that some political figure we never heard of before [Taleh Bugti] was among the dead.” They all went numb when they learnt that six people had died.
Aside from these women, there were hardly any others at the venue, which was packed with mostly “weird-looking guys in graffiti t-shirts”. “They probably thought we were some high-class foreign hookers in short skirts and low-cut shirts,” she said with regret.
The women are worried about their safety now as men at the party took photographs of them while they were on the dance floor. ‘Like a G6’ was playing, Michelle recalled. They are scared that the police or authorities might cause trouble for them or possibly make the already hard visa renewal process even harder.
According to Michelle, their group had arrived at the party just a little before 1am. “I’ve been to many parties here in Karachi that are mostly held in homes with a few close friends invited, but this one was a very elaborate arrangement, similar to the one you find at the American club parties.”
Michelle and the other women decided to make an exit as they started to be surrounded on the dance floor. They became aware of a commotion at the single entrance and exit gate where armed guards were trying to push away a crowd that had gathered outside.
The moment the women stepped out and sat in their cars, the gunshots rang out. “The people who were trying to rush in, then went running in the opposite direction,” she recalled. “Since we were split into two groups, I was worried that our friends may still be inside.” However, they all returned unharmed.
“We could have been among the dead too if we had delayed leaving by even a minute,” she said in horror.
Since the incident, the women have changed their locks and have stopped inviting people they do not know to their residence. “We’ve made some new rules among ourselves, the first one being never to go to a party here unless you know the host.”
Meanwhile, police have made little headway in apprehending the main accused. Gizri DSP Zameer Abbasi admitted that Arif Rajarr, whose guards allegedly opened fire on Bugti, had escaped from the city. “He may be out of town, but eventually he will be caught in our dragnet,” he told The Express Tribune. Apart from Rajarr, the police are hunting for his accomplice Mushtaq, Bugti’s brother Zamraan and his guards.
According to the First Information Report filed by the police on behalf of the State, the entire blame has been put on deceased Taleh Bugti and all the people who accompanied him to the party, including his brother Zarmaan, cousin Zahid Butt, Umair Yusuf, Rehan Rajput, Ghaffar, Bilawal and six others. Arif Rajarr and his friends, Dr Iqbal, Kamran Gul alias Noon, Sameer Baloch, Waseem, Mushtaq, DJ Savvy, Ghayas and his armed guards have also been nominated in the FIR.
The police had produced two suspects, Muhammad Waseem and Zahid Butt, before a judicial magistrate and acquired remand. However, apart from them, no further arrests were made. Police believe that Rajarr is probably hiding in his hometown in Sanghar.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 18th, 2011.
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