Picking up the pieces: Blast victims complain of govt failure, media apathy -Pakistan Press Foundation (PPF)

Paksitan Press Foundtion

Picking up the pieces: Blast victims complain of govt failure, media apathy

By Kiran Naz

KARACHI: “Look towards the minister!” a cameraman urged Ali Hassan Tunio, who was injured in the blast at Malir Halt on Tuesday.

Five of the people who were injured in the explosion were at Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre (JPMC) on Wednesday. Three of them were lined up for surgery and were off-limits for the media while two were in the surgical ward. They had received initial treatment but were waiting for more operations.

The silence of the ward was broken when a ward boy came in to inform them that a minister is here to visit the injured. Within seconds, the ward was full of cameramen directing people to look one way or the other, while all the attendants looked for the nearest exit.

Tunio looked irritated and embarrassed with the constant volley of questions from reporters and requests to look towards the health minister as a photographer near him clicked away.

As the ruckus eventually subsided, the families of the injured quietly went back to what they were doing – discussing mundane things to keep their minds off the horror of Tuesday.

“When a governor is not safe in this country, do you think we would be?” they said.

Meanwhile, Tunio was scathing. “I guess this is the least they [the government] could do,” he said sarcastically, referring to the minister’s visit. “After a few days everyone forgets what happened and what people have lost.”

A private guard at the Popular Plaza in Malir, Tunio was headed home and was a few yards away from the police mobile when the blast rocked the area. Shrapnel hit him in the chest while his leg was badly scraped when he fell to the ground.

On the same road was Mohammad Samad, a chaat seller in Shah Faisal Colony. “The streetlights started flickering. I was hit in the chest and with a hand to my wound, I managed to sit down on the nearby footpath,” he recalled.

Samad’s sister said that she had rushed to JPMC after finding out that her brother was injured – through his image on a news channel.

She said all the mayhem caused by the media was enough to make them run away from the hospital but at least her brother was alive. “I’m grateful for that,” she said. Ghulam Farid, SamadÂ’s uncle, said that what made everything worse was the fact that no investigation is ever carried out properly.

Samad said he wanted to start working the minute he is able to walk. He added that he didn’t mind the wound in his chest but what worried him was whether his leg would get better or not because his livelihood depends on it. Earning Rs200 every day by selling chaat on a bicycle, Samad has no grudges and wants to get on with life once he is fit enough.

“We are paying back the debt that the preceding governments have taken with our lives,” said Ghulam Farid as the attendants looked on blankly.

Meanwhile, Constable Mushtaq Ali, who was killed in the blast, was laid to rest along with other police officials who died in the attack. Ali had joined the police just 15 months ago.

“We were going to get him married,” said Ali’s sister, Rizwana. “How were we to know we would be wrapping him in a kafan?”

Twenty-five-year-old Mushtaq had three sisters and three brothers, who said their brother had left the family sleeping when he went off for work on Wednesday morning.

“When he came back from work on Tuesday, he asked for tea. He didn’t like going out of the house after work,” recalled Ali’s sister-in-law Shakila, adding that he loved playing with his nieces and taking care of his plants.
Source: The Express Tribune
Date:1/27/2011