Abbas Town tragedy

Published: March 17, 2013

KARACHI: This is with reference to Ejaz Haider’s article of March 13 titled “The Mytilenian Debate and Us”.

This is with reference to his article where he writes that an Ahmadi died in the Abbas Town blasts and that rescue workers allegedly refused to pick up his body.

I have visited Abbas Town a couple of times since the tragedy struck and have had the honour of speaking to some of the Sunni and Shia victims. Anyone from the area can confirm that the rescue work was largely conducted by Shia Scouts and Edhi and Chhipa volunteers using torches and their mobile phones as there was a total blackout after the PMTs caught fire after the blast.

Let us be pragmatic: how could the scouts or the Edhi and Chhipa personnel know the identity of the victims, let alone recognise the sect from looking at the dismembered and mutilated bodies and that even in minimum light? What the writer has written gives a very negative picture of the community as a whole.

Being a trained certified rescue volunteer, with eight years of experience, I can assure your readers that these volunteers and scouts are trained to help the injured and are not trained to identify the religious inclination of the injured or the dead during their work. The man who became an unexpected martyr now has a poster outside his Abbas Town home and it reads: “Mubashir Ahmad Abbasi Shaheed”. The white chart paper also has an arrow — drawn using colourful markers — pointing towards his house. The Abbas Town attack that killed at least 50 people and injured over a hundred others has brought the area’s residents closer like never before — irrespective of their ethnic, religious or sectarian affiliations.

One organisation that may have played a role in bringing them together is the Jafaria Disaster Management Cell (JDC). The JDC was established by a number of students in late 2009. It set up camp at Abbas Town on the day of the attack and has been working relentlessly. From providing first-aid medical camps to sending ration packages to the families of the victims, the JDC has been helping scores of families affected by the blasts.

M Muhammad A Hossain

Published in The Express Tribune, March 17th, 2013.

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Reader Comments (2)

  • Arzoo
    Mar 17, 2013 - 5:23AM

    Unfortunately with countless TV channels broadcasting around the clock and other media operating in the city we still have a tremendous lack of accurate reporting and information. Surely, the incident stated in Mr. Haider’s column came from a source he deemed trustworthy. But what Mr. Muhammad Hossain writes in his letter makes a lot more sense. My own experience tells me that in tragic times such as these the volunteers and helpers and public in general do not ask for the victims identities or parochial affiliation to dispense any help they possibly can in such incidents. A few months ago I was driving through the area of Abbas Town and when I made a turn on a road the car drove right in an open manhole and the front wheel got stuck. Within a few seconds there must have been five or six youngsters who appeared and offered assistance and pulled me out. My experience with our people is that a more hospitable and helping people will be difficult to find in the world. We are living in difficult times but I know we will pull through with our humanity intact.


  • Murtuza Haider
    Mar 28, 2013 - 9:31AM

    I agree with Arzooooo


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