President Asif Ali Zardari did not only lose his security in-charge on Wednesday’s suicide attack but he lost a companion - the man who did not leave his side even when he was in jail.
“Bilal Sheikh was like the president’s child,” recalled Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Karachi president Abdul Qadir Patel. Sheikh also supervised security arrangements when PPP co-chairperson Bilawal Bhutto travelled in the country.
Even Patel and Sheikh go a long way back - nearly 30 years. “We were both PPP activists from Urdu college,” he said. “I just saw his body but I still cannot believe that he is no more.” Regretting that more than 500 activists and leaders of the party have been killed, he said. The party will observe a black day of mourning today.
Bilawal House spokesperson Ijaz Durrani remembers how Sheikh used to bring fruits and other items for the president’s house from the same place where the attack took place. “He only stopped there to get food for Sehri when he was attacked,” said Durrani, adding that he was among his old friends.
Sheikh was a father to four children and all of them will become Bhutto when they grow up, said Durrani, referring to the loyalty his children will hold for the party.
Security at hospitals
The two closest government hospitals - Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) and Civil hospital - received the bodies and injured people from the attack. The administration increased security at their casualty wards and Rangers were deployed a the entrances to avoid any backlash.
Dozens of activists and local leaders of the PPP and family members of the blast survivors and victims gathered at the emergency wards of the two hospitals to receive information of the victims. PPP activists started shouting slogans of “Har ghar se Bhutto niklay ga, tum kitne Bhutto maaro ge” [How many Bhuttos will you kill?] when Sheikh’s body was put into an ambulance at the hospital morgue after its examination.
The medico-legal officer at Civil hospital, Ali Raza, told The Express Tribune that Shiekh’s abdomen was ruptured by the blast and that caused his death. According to him, the hospital received two injured men - Ahmed Khan and police constable Mohammad Nasir. They were hit by pellets but they were out of danger.
Three men were killed and 11 others, including a police constable, were injured in, what the police called, a suicide attack since they found a person’s head from a nearby building. Crime Investigation Department SSP Chaudhry Aslam told the media at Civil hospital that the attack was similar to the one in which Justice Maqbool Baqar was targeted. That one was a planted bomb and the attack on Bilal Sheikh was carried out by a suicide bomber, he said.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 11th, 2013.
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