Where are you, Mister Prime Minister, when your people need you?

Published: March 5, 2013

A family affected by the Abbas Town blasts mourns over their loss, while Mr Prime Minister plans his trip to India. PHOTO: REUTERS

Headlines, juxtaposed, stare back at me in the morning paper. I am reading it, still shaken by the events of the Abbas Town Blasts. The sky on this Tuesday morning is tinted a strange reddish strain. Maybe it’s just in the minds of traumatised Karachiites who cannot get over the blood spilled in Abbas Town – blood that has still not dried.

Fumes of that blood are now being breathed in also by residents of the hitherto protected upscale neighbourhoods of Karachi who live in fear of their daughters and wives being kidnapped. We are talking about the blood of the (at least) 48 dead and 140 injured - shops and homes burnt, families displaced, children lost.

Broken toys and burnt textbooks scattered around. Glass panes through which they used to see the world are now lying as broken shards. Torn dupattas, molten electric wires, blistered dreams and mangled photographs of families smiling on Eid decorate the ground.

Yes, the sky is a little reddish today, especially after the funeral procession also came under fire. Even the dead can no longer rest in peace, not because of their own sins, but because of the sins of those who are still alive and armed.

And as a resident of this bloody city (literally), I somehow cringed at this headline:

“Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to visit shrine in Ajmer Shareef, India”

Really, PM sahab?

With all due respect, it is not your going to Ajmer Shareef that is the problem, sir. Refreshing spirituality, washing sins and praying is as much your right, sir, as is mine. It is the timing! It is the fact that you never cared to visit the site of the blast. Neither did any other bigwigs, the maai baaps, the rulers and movers and shakers who rule and move while our very fabric is shaken up.

However, enough has been said about that. We, the citizens of Pakistan, know now more than ever that we are on our own – abandoned, unclaimed. We are independently left alone to clean up the mess after every carnage. The message “abb khud kuch karna paray ga” (we must do something now) stares at us in the face.

We really don’t have a choice. We no longer trust the promises of getting Rs 1,500,000 each for the families of the dead and Rs 1,000,000 each for the injured. Even if, as part of a huge hypothesis, the amount reaches the deserving hands, will it bring the dead back to life? And wouldn’t it be a band-aid too late, even if it does arrive?

Meanwhile, emotionally drained and angry Karachiites channelise their anger like they should. They vent on social networking sites and outside dhaabaas incessantly, for the sake of their own sanity.

They agitatedly argue about how to react to this; they debate the “what next”; they talk about the ugly head of civil war expected to raise its head. They talk about how it is finally a sad fact even the most patriotic ones of us have to accept that yes, I’d rather let my child become a part of Pakistan’s brain drain.

Let the mass exodus begin. For it is no longer time to say “kaheen Karachi Beirut na bann jaye”. Guess what. We’re already there, but are in denial.

Still, all is not lost! We, the Karachiites, right from Dalmia to Defence, are doing what should be done, and what little is in our power. We stage peaceful protests and raise awareness and collect donations in cash and kind. Our students are tear-gassed and baton-charged and arrested for protesting because the real criminals are a league above – they cannot be laid a finger upon.

The awaam still continues to be resilient. Within 24 hours, 60 bags of blood are donated just outside the phase IV Imambargah Yasrab. Within 24 hours, one million rupees are collected. Within 24 hours, shelters are set up and food, medicines and clothes are reaching the effected. Expats are desperately trying to wire money across to Pakistan. On Sunday night, I got a call from a friend who was weeping because she, after volunteering all day for the victims, still wanted to do more, and wanted to know how she can do it.

I see friends at work rushing out for an hour between work timings to donate blood. I know of parents who train their young children by making them pack boxes for the effected.

It’s not much, we all know, but this is all we can do.

What is most heart-warming is how the miscreants lost a battle there and then when Sunnis of the area opened their homes for their Shia brothers. Abbas Town blasts may be the worst that has happened top Karachi recently, but may bring out the best!

On Monday night, a friend messaged me, sharing how many members of the Shia community who had saved up money to go for Ziarat to Karbala, have decided to donate the money towards the rebuilding of the damaged homes. There are firstly whispers and then more vocal suggestions that money saved for Umrah could be used for the same – suggestions coming from Sunnis.

Mr Prime Minister, you and your comrades could learn a thing or two here, don’t you think, sir?

For me, the biggest silver lining is this: with each consecutive catastrophe, we become braver and more vocal and fearless.

We no longer speak in hushed tones. We are saying no to silence as a nation.

Read more by Farahnaz here or follow her on Twitter @FarahnazZahidi

Farahnaz Zahidi

Farahnaz Zahidi

The writer works as a Senior Sub-Editor at The Express Tribune, and has a focus on human rights, gender and peace-building. She blogs at chaaidaani.wordpress.com/ and tweets as @FarahnazZahidi (twitter.com/FarahnazZahidi)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • antony

    Now you feel the pain right ? ..These similar monsters when they unleashed their fury on mumbai ,pune in India you were all asking where is the proof and our evidence will not stand in your court etc statements thrown incessantly..Now lets see if these monsters are caught if they will stand accused in your esteemed court now ?..

    For me who is a non muslim ,its a shock that a black veiled woman is not pure muslim by another muslim who planted that bomb.Recommend

  • Sane

    Govt. and their officials if they really exist were enjoying holiday. And some were having sumptuous dinner at engagement ceremony of a woman of their kind.Recommend

  • Sane

    @antony:

    Now you feel the pain right ? ..These similar monsters when they unleashed their fury on mumbai ,pune in India you were all asking where is the proof and our evidence will not stand in your court etc statements thrown incessantly

    They were your people. Your Foreign Minister and Home Ministers have confessed that. Even here are also your people doing same as they do with Indian Muslims.Recommend

  • Op

    Absolutely we need to stand up and unite Recommend

  • http://usa indian

    @Sane: u just showed y u aren’t progressing…..congrats :)Recommend

  • Anas Tanveer

    @antony:
    If it is a blame game, then what is it when almost it is a word of mouth that whatever is happening in Karachi and Balochistan is being funded and executed by India, as the response of Gawadar port handing over to China. And to me, your comment makes the point more clear, as I can simply say that your comment is purely the knee jerk reaction. Terrorism is the global issue, not only Pakistani. If you are so concerned about Mumbai thing, then what do you have to say for Tamil tigers, Kashmiris, Issues with China at border. Why its always India , with whom it’s nighboring countries has problems. Be it Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, Iran.
    And now to the blog, Well written dear. I just want to say one thing which I always felt, that whenever our President/PM or ministers flew off to Saudia for Umrah and Hajj, on Govt expenses, what good would they be getting out of it? As it is something, asked to perform when you are done with your responsibilities and out of your own pocket. But for PM praying for better results in next elections is weigh more important than concoling the effected familes in Karachi.Recommend

  • Mehran Khan

    Brought tears in my eyes. I really want everyone can read this so i am gonna share it.Recommend

  • Syed

    I am not saying we don’t have good people in Pakistan. It just seems like the bad guys all over the good guys. Our leaders only care about votes and power. They don’t care about Pakistan or Pakistanis. How many more killings before we actually do something about it?

    80% of the population is Sunnis. Aren’t they fed up seeing the blood of innocent Shias? When will they stand up for them? on the day of judgement? Do something now before you leave this world. Recommend

  • Queen

    I guess Mr PM is busy planning his trip to India…Recommend

  • Amer

    No one has claimed responsibility for the attack in Karachi and that makes it highly suspect. I firmly believe there is an international hand involved in the Karachi attack but unless our security agencies get their act together there will be no solid proof and hence no stopping these kind of attacks in the future.
    @antony: Don’t try to make everything about yourself, it’s not! Get over yourself, horrible that you have no sympathy for the dead in this kind of tragdy.Recommend

  • Haseeb Talal Khan

    The time has finally arrived, to do something, to show that we are not ready to be divided on the basis of so called sects and religious belief’s. The time has arrived that will bring a positive change, the ruler’s needs to be hanged for the massacres, happening in Karachi, Quetta every where…They are the ones who should be thrown out of the country….

    This Election is a make or break situation for every Pakistani, please come out and vote…Please share your anger, your disbelief on the current socio-political system..Vote and bring change…Caste your vote this time, not Vote for your caste…..Recommend

  • areeb

    Broken Nation Has to revive for Revolution, this hopeless ministers and PM do not deserve to sit and rule Recommend

  • HRK

    What many Muslims tend to forget these days is that visiting and praying at shrines won’t do jack to elevate one’s status in Islam nor grant them any success in the worldly life (for the upcoming elections in this case). Allah can forgive his rights upon us but won’t forgive people’s rights upon us and our duties towards them. Compare this situation to the Chile mine collapse a couple years ago, when their president himself stayed there until the miners were taken out safely. It’s a shame that our leaders are forgetting their duties for “spiritual” trips. Sometimes I wonder what spirit are they talking about? “Khokhli rooh, khokhla zameer”?Recommend

  • Parvez

    Extremely moving piece writtem by you.
    What astonishes me is that those in whom the people had blindly reposed their faith and a big chunk of the countries resources, seem lost and detached………………yes you are right the people have been abandoned to fend for themselves and yes we will come out out of this ordeal stronger.Recommend

  • ahsan

    Amazingly written article. It was heart touching. I can proudly say that I stand with my shia brothers and will do whatever it takes to help them. After all, they are a part of my own family! I donated blood at the AKUH and helped collecting funds for my brothers and sisters. This is the least we can do! I appeal to all my sunni, wahabi and all sects brothers to please come forward and help our shia brothers, if not now then they also will leave us alone when the hell comes to us. We are next.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    @Anas Tanveer:
    Why its always India , with whom it’s nighboring countries has problems. Be it Pakistan, China, Sri Lanka, Iran.
    Iran? And we always thought that only the history textbooks were defective. Apparently geography is no better.Recommend

  • RSS

    @indian:
    and your “progress” is quite evident from the first comment on this article by Mr antonyRecommend

  • https://twitter.com/DrSalmanAKhan Dr Khan

    Fast-moving, well-written, and very engaging!Recommend

  • Vikrant

    Some readers commenting on this blog appear to be more spiteful of India and Indians, rather than of those that executed this dastardly crime against humanity — and every normal person living anywhere knows fully well that they were in fact committed by Pakistanis. Makes one wonder if the civilized world should pity those innocents who were killed and maimed, or rather pity (more) the kind of mindset seen on many of these blogs (this newspaper and others emanating out of Pakistan) — the kind of mindset (of denial to say the least!) which is in fact only fueling more of the same. Pity this so-called nation “Land of the Pure” — or should one rather say “Land of Denial”?Recommend

  • Sundus

    we are led by a group of drunk politicians who can’t think straight, can’t blame them becuase we elected them!Recommend

  • GhostRider

    @Author…correction: 1 million was collected within 5 hours not 24…hats off to all those who came forward and gave away watever they had in pocket…saluteRecommend

  • afza siddiqui

    heart touching article.written in good spirit.well done author !!Recommend

  • Nosheen

    Very well written…..Straight from the heart article…..I just hope these Government officials realise their responsibility…..Human rights come first!!Recommend

  • http://www.kabacreations.com Vishnu Dutta

    Whats the big deal about it. Bibi, Nawaz,Musharraf, Imran, Altaf etc etc all found themselves safe in India while pakistan was up in flames.Recommend

  • Uzair J

    Very well writtten I must say. It’s just really sad how they are so insensitive about it where on the other end there is no stop to the Shia Genocide. All they care is of power and money, I must say they are insanely power hungry. Anyways, as a Pakistani, these elections are time to make or break our country, please guys vote this time who are more deserving and can actually bring some change.. Recommend

  • Sarfaraz

    Farahnaz, well written…but I tell you what, your article, all the dharnas and all the elections will not make a difference. The root cause, education and sincerity are missing and till that returns this will be the case. Not to say it will not, but it may be after a lot of pain and damage…sadly.Recommend

  • Sane

    @Vikrant:

    Stop sending killers of Indian Muslims to our country. Also stop interfering in matters of others. You have lot of mess to clean at home. First thing first.Recommend

  • Sane

    @areeb:

    Broken Nation Has to revive for Revolution, this hopeless ministers and PM do not deserve to sit and rule

    Not only the existing ministers, PM and other are unable to do anything. Forthcoming election (if happened) shall also result bringing same kind of lot. This shall remain unchanged till masses come on street.Recommend

  • opler

    **Where are you, Mister Prime Minister, when your people need you?** really we need him?? but what he’ll do??? we should let him enjoy a sojorun of india at the end of his tenure..he is useless..Recommend

  • Sane

    @indian:

    @Sane: u just showed y u aren’t progressing…..congrats :)

    Reality bites rather cuts. Enjoyed your reaction.Recommend

  • Ali Hyder

    would Manmohan Singh be traviling to Pakistan, if, in India in a terrorist boomb blast, more than 50 people had been killed, more than hundred people had been injured, more than 200 flats devastated, more 100 shops had been destroyed, number of people inculding kids were being missed??? Raja Rental is a crackpot and more insane are people who vote for these people and make them rule the country. is mulk Allah Hafiz hai.Recommend

  • A. Khan

    Seriously, why do you expect anything different from this government or PM and our politicians in general ?Recommend

  • Saadia Mirza

    The sentiments of all heart broken Karachiites expressed with amazing clarity and grace.
    What I love is how in spite of it all you managed to end with hope….and how in spite of all
    the despair, I believed you.Recommend

  • http://burjor@arcopassociates.com Burjor

    As long as humans identify other humans in terms of religion, and not as humans first, there will always be schism. Religion in this country in particular more than perhaps any other subject has been the reason for the mayhem that we witness.
    If Pakistan was created for a certain religion, (any religion) than it is the wrong reason for creating a country.
    Humans always come first, everything else is secondary, therefore humanity always prevails over every religion.
    65 years is a long period of time, a life span. Pakistan’s can judge for themselves whether this country has been what it was created for.
    Pakistani’s have to ask and answer honestly the following questions.
    1. Are the Muslims living in India better off.? Or are the Muslims in Pakistan better off?.
    2. Do Muslims in India have a better future than the Muslims in Pakistan.?
    3. Given the choice would Muslims from Pakistan rather settle in India or would Muslims from India settle in Pakistan for a better future.?
    4. Are Muslims safer in India, or are Muslims safer in Pakistan?.
    5. Is there a Taliban, extremist phenomenon in India, which has had support of both the government and the people, as is in Pakistan.?
    6.which country is responsible for starting wars between the two?.
    6. Which country is more diverse, in terms of religions, languages, ethnicity, wealth, politics? Which country has better managed this diversity?Recommend

  • MAG

    These lite statements are not going to leave any mark on any of the bureaucrat,hence it is useless to remind them again and again.Recommend

  • m.a.shah

    My heart bleeds with pain and sorrow at the condition of our people in Pakistan. More so for Karachiites. The only way out we have is to break the shackles of this present political clout of corrupt, thugs and murderers. We have tried all of them for decades and its time now for a change. Lets bring through our votes new neat, educated, honest and sincere faces. What can you expect from our Mr. Rental who could never have dreamt of being the prime minister of our troubled country. The man is busy besides collecting money, making as many joy rides to foreign lands, as possible. Unfortunately there are still few more days left so he is busy trying some more foreign trips at our money. How do you expect from a person like him (and his boss) to even bother to think of what transpired in Karachi. Please please please, lets get up and use our votes to kick all those who have so far been part of the past governments and bring in new faces to transform our country into a new Pakistan. May Allah (swt) guide us.Recommend

  • Lyra Belaqua

    Thank you for sharing this story of heartache and courage. I live in the USA and cannot begin to comprehend the horror that is taking place in your country. Your blog puts a name and face to both the suffering and courage of the people of Pakistan.

    IRecommend