‘Treat my daughter, or I will shoot you’

Published: March 25, 2013

Sometime into the ‘treatment’, Jaffer’s gun disappeared and this poor, cheated father passed through to the next stage of grief. PHOTO: AFP

How many of us have been to a bomb blast site? It’s likely that you’ve been to one if you live in Pakistan, particularly Karachi, Quetta or Peshawar.

Living in the aforementioned cities is like living on the forefront of one of many disjointed wars being waged in Pakistan.

Carnage sites in these cities – those created by huge explosions or great accidents – are as devastating as you see on TV shows; and there are powerful stories that emerge.

Like the hundreds of people who mourned the deaths of their daughters, sons, mothers, fathers, siblings and spouses in the Abbas Town blast, there is the story of Jaffer Rizvi*.

Jaffer’s house was bombed and his five-year-old daughter lay among the ruins. He managed to get her out of the rubble and shifted her into an Edhi ambulance.

People say grief comes in stages; what Jaffer felt was anger first.

When he saw one of the new, high-tech ambulances arrive, he immediately pulled out a gun. He was enraged. His mind was telling him every second wasted was making his five-year-old lose her life.

“I want my daughter to go into their ambulance!” he shouted, holding the gun to the head of the Edhi paramedics.

They, of course, agreed.

Remember, this is a carnage site – for as many dead as you will find, there will be double as many alive and panicking.

Jaffer was panicking. He didn’t want his daughter to be taken out of the Edhi stretcher onto the other; he didn’t want to move her. The Edhi stretcher was not fitting in the other ambulance. Again, in anger, Jaffer pointed his gun.

Somehow they managed to move his daughter into the other ambulance. Jaffer was still panicking. His daughter wasn’t better yet.

“I am going to drive the ambulance to the hospital myself!” he shouted.

The paramedics calmly explained that he couldn’t, for many obvious reasons, but Jaffer thought he would be able to get there quicker.

They calmed him at this stage and Jaffer sat at the back with his daughter.

“I’ll shoot anyone who tries to stop us!” Jaffer said, and he wasn’t joking.

The paramedics say he fired shots in the air on his way to the hospital to clear the area. Jaffer wanted to take his daughter to the best private medical hospital in the city, which he did.

The day of the blast, even this hospital was overrun with patients. This is your Grey’s Anatomy. No need to be entertained by the fake Emergency Rooms (ERs) on TV; just catch a seat in a hospital in one of the most violent cities in the world.

The ER was overrun. The radiology department was packed and the operation theaters were at full capacity. Security was unable to keep up with the huge influx of panicking, mourning people.

Jaffer managed his way into the hospital with his daughter. They found a doctor. Jaffer was still armed, and this time he pointed a gun at the doctor’s head.

“Treat her now,” he demanded.

The doctor knew as soon as he saw her.

Jaffer’s daughter had died even before she was put in the ambulance.

But the doctor had a gun to his head. He massaged her chest cavity and tried to calm Jaffer.

Sometime into the ‘treatment’, Jaffer’s gun disappeared and this poor, cheated father passed through to the next stage of grief.

His story of grief and pure horror is lost in how inhumanely we portray deaths in Pakistan.

We are used to bombs. We say it happens all the time in Pakistan. Don’t worry about feeling guilty about it though — even newspapers do it.

Only 12 dead?

Don’t include that in the infographic on sectarian violence.

Only 20 people injured?

Forget their names, whether they lost limbs, were blinded, are in comas, or whether they were the sole providers for their families. Perhaps we can print that on the second page instead.

These stories aren’t of the ‘greats’ – remember what happened at the Marriott? Wow, what a blast that was.

You lived in Beirut? Hah, visit us in Karachi and we’ll show you real terror.

Constant horror is making us unforgivingly apathetic.

We must try to overcome apathy with humanity before we become victims of this disease as well.

*Name has been changed

Read more by Myra here or follow her on Twitter @MyraKhan

Myra Khan

Myra Khan

A former sub-editor on the Peshawar desk at The Express Tribune. She tweets @myrakhan

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

  • http://www.thetrueperspective.com Hamza

    I know that you’re trying to prove how grief is such a powerful emotion and it overcame this man. However in any civilized society he would be locked up and put away for 10 years and have a psych analysis every 4 weeks. Two wrongs do not make a right madam. He vented his grief out onto poor, innocent people. Nothing, not even the death of his daughter, can justify that. Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari


    I feel really sorry for this man, but what Hamza said is correct. He needs a psych evaluation. From a report on TV I saw, apparently over half of Pakistan does. Recommend

  • pakistani

    @Hamza: So you consider Pakistan a civilized nation?Recommend

  • Nobody

    “You don’t need religion to have morals. If you can’t determine right from wrong, then you lack empathy, not religion.” -Unknown

    While I agree this man behaved like a loon, I cannot pretend to feel his grief, nor can anyone else unless he/she has been through something similar. His behavior aside, it’s tragic to see a nation becoming desensitized to people losing limbs, lives, or loved ones. It’s even more tragic because people who want change are at a loss of where to begin. Recommend

  • http://syedaabidabokhari.wordpress.com The Only Normal Person Here.

    Last line of this post has summed up everything.Recommend

  • sinn sal

    Man Pakistan is messed up. sad state for people , Recommend

  • http://wannabehappyalways.wordpress.com Madhia

    Awesome write up. Yes indeed it would be difficult for families and because of that frustration, they react.. Sad.. Allah save our country ameenRecommend

  • Batool

    “Sometime into the ‘treatment’, Jaffer’s gun disappeared and this poor, cheated father passed through to the next stage of grief.”
    wish you had continued with the story. nicely written,we need to be reminded again and again about these tragedies, or they are lost when another comes along. we need to understand these stories are real, these people were real and not just another number adding to the death toll. Recommend

  • Parvez

    The urgency and passion with which you wrote this was brilliant.
    Until and unless our leaders do not pick up the courage to put a stop to the proxy war being fought on our soil by other Muslim states and in turn using this conflict for political and criminal gains, nothing will improve.Recommend

  • Liberal Voice

    Oh my God! this story is so painful it is so sad…i just cannot stop my tears. i just hate these islamists, HAATTTEEE them. they are the scum of the earth, they are worse and far deadlier than the nazis!Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/myrakhan Myra

    Thanks for your comment. Justifications of actions cannot be dealt with as simply as just saying ‘two wrongs dont make a right’. While his actions are ‘bad’ I don’t know if we can just assume bad correlates to wrong. I am not sure what country you are talking about but 10 years is actually a pretty long sentence.

    Its not my place to pass judgement. I just wanted to highlight a story that could have been lost otherwise. Not justify his actions. Recommend

  • Genesis

    It is religion which has brought this state of affairs.Not morals.Recommend

  • Nasir

    A really sad story that puts the current situation in Pakistan into perspective. The only way forward for Pakistan is love for all and hatred for none. The issue is that pakistanis will never accept this as they have been indoctrinated with hate and violence since the time of Zia Ul HaqRecommend

  • Gp65

    Heartbreaking story. Senseless death of a loved one and sheer helplessness to protect them CN drive a perfectly normal person to insanity – which is what appears to gave happened here.

    This man needs treatment. But in our subcontinent, accessible psychiatric treatment is conspicuous by its absence.

    Sad and poignant.Recommend

  • Nou

    Can I get a good kitchen made under 2 million…. I kid you not but this is what some people are worrying about these days. Recommend

  • kiran

    @ Hamza I agree two wrongs don’t make a right but I think if I was in a similar position to him I might react the same way.Its horrible to lose a loved one let alone your child. War,violence, death and grief can bring the worse out of someone regardless of religion, race, gender and education. Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/dureen_anwer Dee

    Amazing how some people are trying to justify the poor man’s action! Those ambulance drivers, paramedics and doctors are someone’s family too :) Recommend

  • Sane

    Such incidents shall carry on. Recommend

  • Sane


    Please do not edit comments. If your policy does not permit to get published. Please omit the whole. Recommend

  • abc

    I’m a Shia, and I think what this man did was barely any different than the perpetrators of the Abbas Town blast. Pathetic to see people justifying his actions here – if they’re justifiable, then maybe all the victims families should’ve done the same? Recommend

  • Irfan Malik


    He would not have to do that had it been a civilised society that you are referring to! There would be ample of ambulance and paramedics to treat her daughter, people would be civilised enough to give way to the ambulance! Please don’t cherry pick and comment out of context! Recommend

  • sheikh

    Unfortunately they are your creation for decades,and even now also you (Army/ISI/Elite Majority of Pakistani )are on the same track of ruin.
    It is not Americas war you are fighting-its your created proxy war killing you today in Pakistan.
    ThOSE ARE THE Strategic assets of your Army /ISI with Fundings from KSA /UAE/Qatar jointly contributing to this mayheim.
    Its really pathetic and sad but you cannot get rid of this.
    AS YOU SOW-SO YOU REAP.Recommend

  • WheresMySandwich

    @Nou, the question is not whether you can make a kitchen under 2 million. The question is rather if you can find a woman who can stay there.Recommend