Karachi bleeds and burns

Published: March 4, 2013
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The explosion was so powerful that the façade of the buildings on both sides of the street crumbled, burying everything below. PHOTO: AFP

The explosion was so powerful that the façade of the buildings on both sides of the street crumbled, burying everything below. PHOTO: AFP

KARACHI: 

A powerful blast ripped though Abbas Town in Karachi on Sunday evening, leaving 45 people dead and over 150 injured.

The residents of the area are no strangers to violence – last year during Muharram, a powerful explosion rocked the area, killing three people. Six years prior to this, the residents of the area witnessed a suicide bombing which claimed the life of the chief of Tehreek-e-Jafria Pakistan, Allama Hassan Turabi.

The latest explosion took place in a street lined with apartment buildings and myriad small shops on both sides. The bomb went off right outside Iqra City and Rabia Flower apartments, both of which are four-storey buildings with small stores on the ground floor. So powerful was the explosion that the façade of the buildings on both sides of the street crumbled, burying everything below. In addition to this, television sets, chairs, fans, grilles and an assortment of household objects started raining down on the street. The explosion also created a 10-foot wide and four-foot deep crater in the road.

Sindh Inspector General of Police (IG) Fayyaz Ahmed Leghari said that the blast was so intense that it had an impact radius of about 700 metres. “About 200 flats have been affected by the explosion,” he said. Many of them were engulfed by flames seconds after the explosion and as many as 50 flats were destroyed by the time the blaze was put out.

Since Imambargah Mustafa is situated close to the blast site, many residents began suspecting that the explosion was meant to target the men who had left their homes to offer Maghrib prayers.

“Why are we being targeted because of our beliefs?” wailed Fatima, one of the residents of the area, as she stood on a pile of rubble. “Our only sin, our only fault, seems to be that we belong to a different sect.”

Eyewitnesses say that they heard two blasts, not one. Amjad Ali, who was travelling along the street towards Abul Hasan Ispahani Road, said that he had nearly reached the end of the street when he heard two blasts in quick succession. “I thought that it was a suicide bombing. When I was passing through the area, I didn’t see any motorcycle or car standing on the road.”

It took some time for the fire tenders to arrive at the blast site, and even when the firefighters arrived, it was difficult for them to douse the stubborn flames as the street was narrow and not more than one vehicle from the fire brigade could enter it. Making matters worse was the debris that was obstructing the road. Once they got there, they began evacuating the residents of the buildings and declared the structures unsafe.

The bodies, most of which were charred, were taken to the Liaquat National Hospital, Patel Hospital, Abbasi Shaheed Hospital and Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre. Among those who lost their lives in the incident were the sister, brother-in-law and nephew of Sindh Assembly’s deputy speaker, Shehla Raza. A Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) activist, Amir Zaidi was also killed.

Sluggish response

Though the intensity of the blast was quite severe, no high-ranking official from law enforcement agencies had visited the site. In fact, up to two hours after the blast, law enforcers were conspicuous by their absence. A majority of the city’s law enforcers were deployed at Mohatta Palace at the other end of town, where Sharmila Farooqi’s engagement ceremony was taking place.

“Are the law enforcers and the government sleeping?” cried Razia Khatoon, a resident of one of the buildings licked by flames. “It seems as if all of our leaders have vanished into thin air.”

Another man, Abbas Ali, who had come to the area from Ancholi, was livid with rage at the government, though for different reasons. “The government is negotiating with the Taliban even though militant groups are wreaking havoc on the city. What kind of justice is this?”

Slow progress

Once the top brass got around to investigating the blast, some progress was made. Crime Investigation Department SSP Fayaz Khan said that the engine of a car which might have been used in the attack was found. “We are now deciding whether a suicide bomber was also involved. About 150 kilogrammes of explosive materials with ball bearings have been used in the blast.”

The SSP claimed police had information regarding the attack beforehand. According to them, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi might be involved in the incident.

Sindh Governor Ishratul Ebad has also constituted an investigation team, headed by IG Fayyaz Leghari, to probe the incident. According to Leghari, one suspect has already been detained in connection with the blast.

Day of mourning announced

The MQM has announced a day of mourning over the incident. Several Shia organisations, including the Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen , Shia Ulema Council and the Tehreek-e-Jafria Pakistan have also announced three days of mourning. The Sindh chief minister has announced that schools around the province will remain closed. The flag will fly at half mast.(WITH WRITING BY USMAN LIAQUAT)

Published in The Express Tribune, March 4th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (33)

  • Asim
    Mar 4, 2013 - 3:48AM

    Paying the price of the Iran-Pakistan Gas pipeline ~ But keep on doing this you so called super-power with your dirty allies ~ Our national interest is more than our lives ~ May Allah Subhan wa Talla bless all those with the highest muqam in Janna who are Shaheeds are died for the cause of their country.

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  • hasan
    Mar 4, 2013 - 3:51AM

    Time these brothers leave this country which has lost all civility and meaning… Since Jan 2013, more than 250 Shia brothers are butchered by us.. Lets accept that Govt has failed in all respect, the country has failed to protect its citizens, our borders are not safe, foreign countries drone us at will, we have sold our economy to the chinese who use us as a colony… what else is left here? . My prayers for our brothers, and sincere advice would be to leave this country asap to save your lives. Bengalis have done so in 71, when we killed 3 million of them, and I dont want to be part of society that commits same mistake again. Very sad and failed condition of ours…

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  • aysha
    Mar 4, 2013 - 4:15AM

    If those responsible for Ahmediyya caranage in May 2010 were conedemned and apprehended they would not have gone stronger in their conviction of sectarian cleansing.
    The criminal silence over the incident of the civil society,judiciary, media, military, politicians has culminated into what we see today.

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  • Wajahat Ali Khan
    Mar 4, 2013 - 4:39AM

    Governor Sindh should step down now
    If we protest against Baluchistan CM and Governor; over blasts there.
    Why not we demand the step down of Governor Sindh

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  • Shariq
    Mar 4, 2013 - 4:40AM

    Ina lilah wa ina ilayhi raji’oon. Shocked by the news I pray for those who suffer.

    One has to wonder where would all this killing end, when would we be able to live in peace.

    Blood in the name of religion, it has to stop. Its time we seriously started questioning our own, it’s time we started saying no.

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  • stalagmite
    Mar 4, 2013 - 5:02AM

    What does a nation do when there is no will among public servants to simply do their job?

    gritting teeth is not working…

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  • A2Z
    Mar 4, 2013 - 5:21AM

    Now give coverage to Sharmeela Farooqi’s engagement. This govt and media is a curse on Pakistanis.

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  • Unca Jim
    Mar 4, 2013 - 5:56AM

    whoz the bad guy?**

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  • gtm
    Mar 4, 2013 - 6:28AM

    What is the relevance of closing schools around the state to mourn sectarian violence? Already so many study days are lost to holidays and other unfortunate causes.

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  • Khan Bhai
    Mar 4, 2013 - 6:55AM

    First they came for the Hindus,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Hindu.

    Then they came for the Christians,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Christian.

    Then they came for the Ahmadiyyas,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade Ahmadiyya.

    Then they came for the Shias,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Shia.

    Then they came for the Sufis,
    and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Sufi.

    Then they came for me,
    and there was no one left to speak for me.

    Recommend

  • MilesToGo
    Mar 4, 2013 - 7:16AM

    Until we all follow one true path, there will not be peace.

    Recommend

  • numbersnumbers
    Mar 4, 2013 - 7:22AM

    So, MAJORITY of police were guarding “Sharmeela Farooqi’s Engagement” (party?) at Mohatta Palace!!!
    It must be very evident to the Pakistani people where the governments priorities rest, with VVVVVVIP duties the norm for most of the police in the country!

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  • numbersnumbers
    Mar 4, 2013 - 7:28AM

    @Asim:
    And of course you can provide us credible evidence that this slaughter was “Paying the price of the Iran-Pakistan Gas pipeline”!!!
    Once again, everything that happens to Pakistan MUST be because of the ever convenient “Foreign Hand”! Home grown militants are all just pious “brothers” selling flowers!

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  • rizwan
    Mar 4, 2013 - 7:28AM

    Karachi people when you going to learn a lesson?? Why can’t you stand up and vote them out????? otherwise you going to get killed anyway?

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  • Kajamohideen
    Mar 4, 2013 - 7:31AM

    @Shariq:
    Your beginning with a sentence in Arabic shows you are not really serious about questioning the root causes of Pakistan’s problems.

    Regards

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  • habib-Jakarta
    Mar 4, 2013 - 7:43AM

    These sort of bloodbaths are some designed in foreign funded local Mad-ressahs

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  • Supariwala
    Mar 4, 2013 - 7:46AM

    Who is behind these attacks? I am still trying to understand what is haunting the land of pure, and the land of pak.

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  • Truth_Prevails
    Mar 4, 2013 - 8:26AM

    @Asim: Insanity, illetracy, extremism, thats what your comments sound. By the way we are initiating a dialogue process with TTP and likes, perhaps we believe that they are helping us eradicate the biggest problem as Dr. Hoodhboy puts, “POPULATION”.

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  • Hari Om
    Mar 4, 2013 - 8:27AM

    Having sown the seeds of the “Two Nation Theory” it is inevitable that the “Two Sect Theory” will sprout as Sunni and Shia battle it out to determine which is the correct form of Islam an Islamic State needs to follow.

    Recommend

  • Kafantaris
    Mar 4, 2013 - 8:39AM

    The one that has the power to stop the cycle of revenge is the one who has been wronged last, and whose turn it is to avenge. He could use his turn and strike back, thus continuing the endless cycle, or he could forego it — both now and the next time until it stops. Such is the utility of turning the other cheek that nobody had thought of before Christ.
    It is wrong for Muslims to kill Muslims — no matter what their sect. It is also time we figure out a way to stop sectarian violence and applying the original ideas of Christ might help us do so. We are all in this world together, and but for a short time. Surely we can find a way to get along.

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  • ab
    Mar 4, 2013 - 8:41AM

    someone is not happy with Pakistan giving gawader to china and pak-iran gas pipeline.

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  • MTL
    Mar 4, 2013 - 9:01AM

    I have seen the bodies of little children at the hospital that died in this incident and also met some of injured.Those involved are brutals.In addition we have to look for the root cause and put our 100% efforts to eliminate it.

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  • MSH
    Mar 4, 2013 - 9:16AM

    @A2Z:
    ET gave a lot of coverage to this PPP event, presumably because they are cut from the same cloth. The rich will support each other in the end. This shows the state of affairs in this country, the poor are dispensable and everything is for the rich and powerful. Why did ET spend so much space on this engagement and why did they not highlight the fact that all our government servants were at this party while people were dying. Our media is just as culpable as the obsequious brown nosing public servants.

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  • H.A. Khan
    Mar 4, 2013 - 9:17AM

    While casting your vote in next election,remember the priority of our rulers: enjoying a Engagement at Mohtta palace rather than attending to this tragedy.

    45 persons death does not call for a strike but a strike and closure is ordered for political reasons.

    What has happened to this country,to this city.

    Your vote, your right,your might. Bring about a change please

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  • MSH
    Mar 4, 2013 - 9:59AM

    @A2Z:
    What do you expect, these are all kindred spirits. All media houses are owned by the mega rich who are dependent on the generosity and patronage of the powerful.

    Recommend

  • Supariwala
    Mar 4, 2013 - 11:30AM

    Pakistani Taliban are agents of the U.S State Department. Jihadis get paid, trained and funded.

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  • Gulam Rasool "Kuldeep sharma"
    Mar 4, 2013 - 1:10PM

    Despite our strong family objections Me & my 3 friends are planning to come Karachi on tourist visa for 2.5 years but nobody have to courage. All we lost our hope to taste some good mughalai food in Karachi.
    Seeing the conditions, i think that our wish will remain wish until last.

    I remembers Hilary “Snakes in your backyard won’t bite only neighbours”

    Gulam Rasool “Kuldeep sharma”
    New Delhi

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  • Raj Kafir
    Mar 4, 2013 - 2:23PM

    @Khan Bhai:
    Who are “THEY”?
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  • Shariq
    Mar 4, 2013 - 2:57PM

    @kajamohideen
    I am sorry but I don’t really follow the objection here so pray tell me what do you have against “beginning a sentence with Arabic”. I do hope you dont blame a language for all the troubles this land of pure is facing.

    Recommend

  • Kajamohideen
    Mar 4, 2013 - 5:49PM

    @MilesToGo:
    As long you insist there is only one path to truth there will be no peace.
    Rgds

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  • Babar Khan
    Mar 4, 2013 - 11:15PM

    Granted everything that has happened in the past two days has been Horrible,unfortunate,and inhumane.But what i’d like to know is why is that this bombing has lead to such an uproar?have other minorities in pakistan not been targeted?have other minorities not dealt with worse?where was all this support then?why werent people rushing to help and donate to them?did everyone forget about the religious persecution against Ahmadis? where they not human?where they not someones family?someones father or brother or mother? where was the charity and love for humans when people went and opened fire inside ahmadi masjids in lahore, killing innocent HUMANS WHILE THEY PRAYED…why is all this care and consideration coming now?and all this talk about changing the leaders NOW.it was the same leaders then as now,but still such a difference? it’s because for all the talk people in this country talk they can not walk the walk.they have never been equal to ALL MUSLIMS and it is something that they are NEVER GOING TO BE ABLE TO DO.unless EVERYONE DECIDED TO BE MORE ACCEPTING AND OPEN MINDED OF ALL MUSLIMS.

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  • Kamran
    Mar 4, 2013 - 11:50PM

    this tragedy is a clear verdict on the incompetence of this democratrically elected goverment and this democracy. Why should people care about democracy if this means coming to power of most incompetent of lot who have nothing to provide to the people and are just concerned about their political considerations. The least the people expect is safety of lives and property, which this govt has miserably failed to provide. Why should people care if there is democracy or dictatorship and what good we can get by holding elections as it will only mean relection of people from the same lot of incompetent and corrupt people.
    I think an iron fisted dictator/military rule would be much better than this stinking and pathetic democracy.

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  • Fawad
    Mar 6, 2013 - 2:12AM

    @Kamran:
    It’s too late now. Our ppl now recalling dictator Musharraf days were so good. When each citizen was enjoying secured life and new jobs.

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