Abbas Town attack: Shia, Sunni residents stick together amid heart-rending tragedy

Published: March 5, 2013
“If everyone would have helped only those who belonged to their own sect, there would have been no survivors,” says a volunteer. PHOTO: REUTERS

“If everyone would have helped only those who belonged to their own sect, there would have been no survivors,” says a volunteer. PHOTO: REUTERS


Rizwan Abbas chose to spend the night of Sunday’s deadly attack in Karachi on a hard pavement rather than his comfy bed to protect his Sunni neighbour’s abandoned house.

Although his own house escaped damage, he stayed under the open sky to watch over the damaged house of his friend, Babar, who fled the area with his family.

The 25-year-old received injuries when the massive blast ripped through Abbas Town, but as soon as the doctors bandaged his head, he returned home to provide a helping hand to the victims.

“When my brothers are in pain and in need, how can I stay away and not help them?” Abbas said as he walked around the rubble the next morning, helping remove the heavy concrete blocks.

The attackers are mistaken if they think that Sunday’s blast would inflame the ongoing sectarian violence. Living peacefully for years in the apartments that were heavily damaged in the blast, Sunnis and Shias have become even more united amid pain, grief and devastation.

Regardless of the differences in their religious views, the area’s residents have risen together to console one another and help victims get back on their feet.

“There is no Sunni or Shia here. We are all Muslims,” said Mohammad Nasir, a volunteer.

Sunni volunteers were on guard on the road leading to Mustafa Imambargah, allowing no one to go near it. Others stopped people from getting too close to the blast site, as rescuers attempted to remove the debris.

Inside the residential blocks, two young men, who live behind Abbas Town, were handing out chicken biryani to whomever they could find. “Take this. Take this,” one of them named Mohammad Raza said to a man in a green turban.

“If everyone would have helped only those who belonged to their own sect, there would have been no survivors,” said the young man.

Since Sunday night, he and his friends had pulled out two bodies, donated blood and distributed food amongst the stricken families out of their own pockets. “My own sister’s house has been damaged. But my other relatives are with her. Right now I am more needed here,” said Raza.

Shama, whose uncle, Ghulam, was amongst the 18 Sunnis killed in the attack, said, “It is the government who wants the Shias and Sunnis to fight. We have never fought and will never fight.”

Some women were seen trying to console Kaneez Fatima, who lost her cousin in the blast. “Don’t cry. It will be okay. We are in this together,” her neighbour Jameela said. Two Shia women turned up to tell the affected women that temporary residence was being offered for all at the Pakistan Sports Board hostel.

The residents disclosed that they had never witnessed tension between Shias and Sunnis in the area, even though there have been attacks in the past.

“Our children play cricket together. At nights, we all sit together. This attack is not on Sunnis or Shias, it is on Muslims,” said one, Imran, while handing out water bottles to others.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 5th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (14)

  • anonymous
    Mar 5, 2013 - 4:03AM

    So proud to hear how everybody was helping one another regardless of whether they were sunni/shia!

    Please let’s hold onto this belief and help our Pakistani brothers at all times, especially through difficult times.
    Let’s not play into the hands of our enemies who want us fight amongst ourselves which will help fulfill their evil agenda.


  • Appalled
    Mar 5, 2013 - 4:06AM

    Beautiful. A thundering slap on the face of many.


  • Iftikhar Khan
    Mar 5, 2013 - 7:09AM

    This is NOT a shia sunni, I am sunni and it is an insult to me to call Taliban/LEJ as sunnis. Even animals would be offended if we call them animals. These killers are pure agents of shaitan.

    Morning will come… InshahAllah


  • khan
    Mar 5, 2013 - 7:32AM

    We are muslims…we have to shun our differences


  • Faisal
    Mar 5, 2013 - 8:08AM

    This is the fortitude we need. We must stay together and defeat the evil together. May Allah Rest in Peace all of the Victims and give patience to the victim’s families. Very touching.


  • zoro
    Mar 5, 2013 - 9:30AM

    The picture above reminds me of the bomb blast in mumbai in 1992 near Worli Passport Office… Its almost same except that its in Karachi now ..


  • Angry citizen
    Mar 5, 2013 - 9:38AM

    This unity should be shown even in normal situation. I am happy that we are still together and hope to remain there for eachother in all types of circumstances. May Allah bless the souls of victims and grant peace to the survivors.


  • Enlightened
    Mar 5, 2013 - 10:10AM

    This is the best news item published in ET. Maintaining harmony between Sunnis and Shias would certainly defeat the evil sectarian forces and both should now jointly fight them in future. Nevertheless, the security forces need to play their role more effectively and hunt down the main culprits to avoid further bloodshed of Shias.


  • AIH
    Mar 5, 2013 - 1:06PM

    SALUTE! Proud of my fellow countrymen!


  • sandeep limaye
    Mar 5, 2013 - 3:53PM

    feeling optimistic after reading this news
    if you stick together as pakistanis regardless of your sect, cast, religion, language, region for only ten years from now onwards, you will become world power, you have that potential as a nation
    feeling good for you friendsRecommend

  • baba
    Mar 5, 2013 - 5:22PM

    don’t ask us who we are …. don’t report as shias were targeted or sunniz were killed . We all are Muslims and there were 45 Muslims martyred that day. I salute these people who are doing whats needed. InshaAlah together we will defeat these enemies of ours


  • Pasha
    Mar 6, 2013 - 12:33AM

    Please setup an International donation fund in bank so that all the Pakistanis Sunnis or Shias would come forward and help those in need.


  • Yuri Kondratyuk
    Mar 7, 2013 - 12:50PM


    We are muslims…we have to shun our

    Guess rest of the humanity doesn’t amount to much!


  • shahid
    Mar 10, 2013 - 3:36PM

    No doubt we have love for eachother then why we are not able to abolish this that all happening with us.


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