ISLAMABAD/ KARACHI: Among those who were killed in the plane crash were newlywed couple Tanveer Jan and Sadaf – who had adjoining seats, 18-A and 18-B.
The couple wed a month ago and lived in the Gulshan-e-Hadeed area. They had been invited to Islamabad by Tanveer Jan’s uncle so they could travel and enjoy a late honeymoon. Those dreams are now over. Tanveer Jan’s brother Kabeer was among those trying desperately to get some news. He told The Express Tribune that they had not been able to get an answer from the authorities in Karachi or Islamabad or any information on available flights. Kabeer said that their family were small-time landowners from Shikarpur and Tanveer Jan worked as a goods transporter. There were similar emotional scenes at Islamabad airport as distraught relatives wept bitterly for the victims of the crash. I had come to receive my newly wed son and daughter-in-law. My son Sajjad Ali married only 20 days back. He was coming with his wife Sania Abbas today, I had come to receive the couple,” said one heartbroken old man.
Families torn apart
Shehzad lost two brothers in the plane crash – Mohammad Farooq and Mohammad Sohail. “They work with engines and had travelled to purchase parts from Rawalpindi. They go quite often,” he said. Shehzad said the response from the authorities was “ridiculous”. “The only time I got to see the list was from the media and there is no one at the counter who is telling us anything, there is a crowd here.” “We don’t care,” Shehzad said, “We’ll pay to get on another flight. Just get us out, whether it is on Bhoja or Khoja.” “My wife was on the plane, she was alone, going to see her parents,” said Arshad Hussain 27, tears rolling down his cheeks. He had married just a few months ago.”I have seen the name of my sister and her infant girl,” said Mohammad Usman. “Our lives have been devastated.”
‘He died a martyr’
Also on the flight was Usman Rasheed, a cleric in his mid-20s. Originally from Hazara, Rasheed had studied at Karachi’s Jamia Binoria for five years and become an aalim. “He had come to Karachi to meet his teachers. He left the seminary before Asr prayers,” recalled Jamia Binoria’s Mufti Naeemur Rehman. “A car from the seminary dropped him at the airport a few hours ago and now he has been martyred.”
Checking the passenger list
Waqas was looking for his friend’s uncles name on the passenger list- Waqas, along with his friends had come from Jhelum. He said he went to the site first and then came to the airport. “The situation over there is poorly managed. Roads are blocked. We couldn’t find out anything. We have now come here to confirm if our uncle was even on the flight. We don’t know of our plan from here. We are not getting any information”. Family members and friends hopelessly searched for names in the lists put up at the Bhoja Air counter at the Benazir International Airport.
Bhoja Air steps in
Bhoja Air’s public relations officer Jasir Abro said “we want everyone to stop speculating. We’re trying to find out what happened, where, and how it happened. As soon as we find out more information about the crash the list will be made public.” However, Bhoja Air did not have a focal person to deal with the crisis, unlike Airblue, which did in the aftermath of the 2010 plane crash. When people working on the Bhoja Air desk were asked what their crisis management plan was, they said, “We have a crisis management plan, it’s on the books,” but couldn’t answer when asked to provide a protocol or standard operating procedures. Meanwhile, Bhoja Air announced that an aircraft will carry one member each of the families’ affected by the crash at 7am today. The Malir deputy commissioner also told reporters that a PIA airplane had been arranged to take family members to Rawalpindi free of charge.
WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AGENCIES
Published in The Express Tribune, April 21st, 2012.