KARACHI: The floor of Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre’s emergency ward was splattered with blood on Tuesday afternoon, as those injured in drive-by shootings were wheeled in. The hospital staff appears to have grown accustomed to the gunshot wounds they deal with on a daily basis. “Two injured. One’s in the dressing room, the other is in Ward 21,” said the receptionist, speaking as if on autopilot.
In a way the staff were braced for violence even though the Muttahida Qaumi Movement had called for a day of mourning in a bid to end the killings, that have raked up a 100-man toll.
Abdul Latif, 42, and Abdul Wahid, 47, survived a gun attack and were admitted to JPMC on Tuesday. The two Pathan men, whose houses fall under the PS-126 constituency, were travelling to the Dow University of Health Sciences with a medical test report for Latif’s son when they were fired at by four men in a car that drove up next to theirs. The gunmen were described as ‘pant shirt’ clad (a euphemism for the workers of a political party). “Why must you ask this obvious question? You and I both know who’s responsible,” said Lala Rahim, a Pakistan Peoples Party worker who was visiting the two men.
Latif, a father of 12, works as a security guard at a health clinic and is the only earner of the family. He was injured when a bullet hit his arm. Wahid took three bullets - one to his hand, one to his arm, and another to his back. “They hit the hand so that if the men are armed, they can’t fire back,” explained Rahim.
“There was a police outpost nearby. The officers called an ambulance which brought us here,” said Wahid, still wearing his bloodstained clothes. Doctors told him that he will undergo surgery on Friday to remove one of the bullets. “I don’t feel very well,” he said. “I can’t breathe.”
Latif and Wahid were still left with the capacity to breathe. While they were being treated, two bodies lay in the morgue, victims of Tuesday’s spate of violence.
Outside JPMC, it was a clear, beautiful day, the likes of which are a rarity in the humid city. It would have been a day for picnics and excursions to the beach or historical venues. Instead, Karachi shut up shop, drew the curtains and settled down to watch reports of the violence on their television screens.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 24th, 2011.
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