Peshawar: City of death and hope

Published: June 30, 2011


There was a blast in Peshawar Khyber Supermarket on June 11, 2011 at approximately 11:45 pm, killing 40 and injuring around 100.

It was supposed to be one of those peaceful weekends when I’d be chatting with family over a meal or engrossed in an inconclusive talk-show on television.

I recall sitting at home, watching television with my family when the sudden sound of an explosion shook us all. It was terrifying and distressing at the same time.

Who was at the blast site? How many lives might have perished away in this blast?

Many questions rose in my mind but were silenced by an inner voice saying ‘perhaps not many people were killed’. I instantly chastised myself. Isn’t even the loss of one innocent life enough to trigger grief?

I visualized being at the blast spot, encountering the aftermath – a world of utter helplessness  filled with horrific scenes of blood, scattered human flesh and body parts. I heard screams and loud cries.

Among the numerous blasts to strike Peshawar, the one which took place at Khyber Supermarket was a mighty one.

One of the victims was a student of University of International Management Sciences, Haroon Khattak. A talented young man in his late twenties who was pursuing his MBA and was considered a bright talent of one of Peshawar’s prominent television channels ATV Khyber. With burns on 95% of his body, he is still under critical care at the Burn Unit in Wah Cantt.

A few days ago he was playing pranks among his friends and today he is struggling for his life.

Did he deserve this?

How was he at fault?

Besides him, numerous students have succumbed to death.

Just like every other blast in Peshawar, there is no criminal to be caught. Nobody has claimed responsibility and as time passes investigations will be forgotten.

Yet, despite the frequent terrorist attacks, people living here haven’t lost hope. Normal life in such a sensitive city means moving on – every single day. People cease to be traumatized by blasts taking place every now and then.

People roam the city as if nothing interrupts their normal lives but every time they leave the house they know it could be their last day on Earth.

I have spent almost half of my life here in Peshawar. It is close to my heart and soul. I have witnessed numerous terrorist attacks wrecking this city but to my astonishment I always noticed it resurrecting itself. Every time I am dejected the resilience among the people of this city inspires me.

Today as I drive on its roads, I see every single road narrating the horrific tales of heinous blasts, every single building standing outright but with impressions of utter disasters, even the air whispers the cries of its innocent citizens for their unspeakable misery. Yet the sunshine redeeming those sorrows tells me that its a new day, a promising day, a harmonious day. A day, when I look back and bow before those thousands in honour, who sacrificed their lives for this city. A day vowing, no more blasts, no more human sacrifices and no more tests.


Zarmina Ikram

A Peshawar based communications assistant for the Provincial Disaster Management Authority

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

  • from India

    its pakistanis who are responsible for their own actions …. kashmir was made to burn and bleed for more than a decade by ISI …we indians became used to such disturbing news …now its your turn !! Recommend

  • Zeeshan Hasib Baig

    Good Article !!
    Its sad to know that once such a peaceful city is now in such a chaos. Recommend

  • Zeeshan Hasib Baig

    @from India:

    With all due respect, Its not about india or pakistan. Its about humanity, the only reason you and we happened to face such crisis situation is that we always play blame game. so its time we learn and act maturely.Recommend

  • Faisal Khan

    There is no “University International Management Sciences” in Peshawar… I suppose the saying “facts shouldn’t stand in the way of a good story” would be wholly applicable here.Recommend

  • http://none Bangash

    Strategic depth in Afghanistan has been a failure and brought us disastrous results.Recommend

  • Asif Nawaz

    Without hope we will be living a dead life.Recommend

  • Shahnawaz kashmiri

    @ indian
    Let me give you Violence Update carried out by INDIAN ARMY in KASHMIR from
    Jan. 1989 to May 31, 2011 (ie in just 22 years)
    Total Killings 93,602
    Custodial Killings 6,984
    Civilians Arrested 119,225
    Structures Arsoned/Destroyed 105,919
    Women Widowed 22,755
    Children Orphaned 107,418
    Women gang-raped / Molested 9,997
    May 2011
    Total Killings 20
    Custodial Killings 0
    Tortured/Critically Injured 14
    Civilians Arrested 74. Source kashmir media service. Imagine how many kashmiris would have been killed by indians~~ do you still believe we kashmiris will accept your dadagari. Are you crazy? We want to live with pakistan and we are proud of it.Recommend

  • Aimal Khan

    He is a very lively and very nice human being and very well known to me!!We played cricket together, laughed together. I would only request all you guys to kindly pray for him. He needs it badly!!Recommend

  • Zarmeena Ikram Babar

    @ faisal
    Its Institute of Management Sciences -University in Hayatabad PeshawarRecommend

  • meena gabeena

    very nicely written…we remember the Peshawar known for its music, food, shopping and beautiful people…and today its a place which is known only for its terror…you name a place in Peshawar and its faced a bomb blast… :((( but have hopes…peshawar has survived for yearsss…it will survive this too.Recommend

  • san

    A city which I love the most is burning everyday..and yes losing Hope is just like your death..
    Peshawar kho Peshawar dey ka na.
    Between there is no such university with name “University of International Management Sciences” in Peshawar or you probably want to write “The Institute of Management Sciences (IMS)”. Recommend

  • YK Yousafzai

    Here is another one today, maybe claiming 2-3 more lives and injuring a lot many more. But I am sure after a couple of hours things will be normal as if nothing has happened. It’s not a sign of “not giving up”, it’s actually a sign that we have become dead from our heart.

    Every next blast or terrorist strike is a story for us. We will discuss it on social media, in drawing rooms and that’s it. Some will blame US’s presence, some will blame the Taliban or the Islamist militant groups, the ISI and other Strategic organization will be blamed.
    That’s the end of that; let’s wait for another to start all over again.

    Only those will remember who lost their near and dear ones. I know one such mother, who lost his 19 years old son (Rizwan Mir). His father sold part of his land so that he can study engineering which was his ambition. I saw his dead body, and still remember that very strange expression that seemed to have freeze on his face. As if wondering that what he has done wrong, why is he being killed in such a way? :(Recommend

  • Maria Waseem

    Mr.Faisal khan !!! Are you implying that nobody died in that blast which took place in Peshawar?
    How absurd is that!!!!!!!
    By the way I know Haroon khattak personally. He is friends with my brother and it is true that he is in Burn Unit at Wahh cantt. Recommend

  • Sikandar Imran

    Nicely written. Praying for the country. Recommend

  • Sohail Alam jan

    Sorry for Peshawar;
    But we, the people of kurram stuck in kurram agency since 2007, and no one is asking about them, why??? r we not Pakistani, if yes then why Imran Khan is doing Dharna, for the people how killed in drone attacks ( remember thay are all terrorist) but the people of kurram more loyal than any other pakistani.But Imran Khan never ask???Recommend

  • AFaq

    very sad to know your hypocratic thinking….. everybody knows the role of india in Kashmir… We are used to such incidents and Peshawar is the city of brave people ask your elders they might guide you better about our bravery…. Recommend

  • Asfandyar Munir

    @Faisal Khan:
    Its called IMSRecommend

  • Awais Khan

    It is the courage of the brave people of Peshawar, which will eventually defeat this menace of terrorism.Recommend

  • Anikah Khan

    @ India!

    Kashmir was oversized and underpopulated…it couldnt have been on either side of the two separate nations, and your very own Nehru and Patel agreed to this fact presented by their ‘then’ well wisher Lord Mountbatten! Kashmir was ”made to stay as an independent state….all the statistics were in support of this argument then” But if Indians have gotten used to hear such news about bleeding and burning….it was becoz they chose to do so! Its bcoz they are responsible for it…and at the least, they should ‘hear” about it.
    On Pakistan’s part….yes its our fault. Had we not shown the political numbness and inefficiency, by trying to needlessly host all our ”neighbours”…..we would have been living in peace till date! Recommend

  • Alamdar Khan

    Great write up… Reality Bites … Long live Peshawar .. Long live PakistanRecommend

  • A doctor

    It’s truly horrific seeing all of this happen on daily basis in our beloved city,being a doctor I’ve been in the thick of it all and no matter how stone-hearted we are,at times the tears just don’t seem to stop.Every emergency duty starts with a silent prayer that there won’t be another blast,there won’t be any more blood shedding but the prayers always remain unanswered..Recommend

  • Asad Munir

    Excellent write-up.Recommend

  • Shahbaz Younis

    Nicely written!
    I remember those memorable moments when I visited Peshawar last time in 2004, It was a peaceful city with rich cultural heritage, but unfortunately with the passage of time it becomes the house of terrorists, my heart goes to the victims, and at the same time I equally appreciate the courage and patience shown by the people of Peshawar, who are facing these terrifying incidents everyday.Recommend

  • Maulana Diesel

    Its time we stand together against these barbarians and the agents of death and destruction. We need to start defence committees and neighbourhood watch schemes in every locality of Peshawar. We can beat the Taliban at their own game. The citizens of Peshawar are a resilient lot – WE HAVE TO FIGHT BACK and not take it lying down. Recommend

  • Mohsin Surani

    @Zarmeena very touchy indeed.

    Well I think we are building a unique “pyramid of human sacrifices” that history has ever revealed. Descended darkness is symbolically popping up some good omens for Peshawar as well as for Pakistan.

    Look at the pieces of history, we arose while in the midst of frozen fog. Pakistan is in the process of metabolism. We will carve the virtue with hope, we shall drag the innocents with rope.

    Made me remember Allama sb and his verse:

    “Ye daur apnay Braheem ki talash main hai”.Recommend

  • Sameer

    This is extremely sad. My heart goes out to the innocent victims. When will Pakistanis actually fight for their freedom from the oppression of terrorism? Are people in Peshawar just resigned to this fate or will they fight the terrorists since the military and ISI clearly aren’t willing to? Peshawar must make a stand now. Recommend

  • Shazad Khan

    A very well written article. The city of Peshawar where i grew up in until 1998 was peaceful and blast free, i visited in 2006, and witnessed the city going back wards in time, such a shame to know that our wonderful city is being destructed day by day, lives being lost, and worst of all.. nothing being done about all the chaos.. How far will this disease spread? Is there no one good leader to step up and end this ridiculousness? Peshawar needs help! Pakistan needs help! Please someone step up and make Pakistan a prosperous United and a Democratic Country. Any Takers?
    I pray that Pakistan is once again a nation of uniformity and peace.. Recommend

  • kanwal arsalan

    your first write-up…pretty amazing…shows theres a long long way for u to go,and uve got it inside u to do it and give it ur best shot.wat uve potrayed in ur writing is very grieving and it requires the young generation to finally take a stand for their rights.their safety,their freedom in the country that was once freed by the QUAID for us!Recommend

  • Shandana

    Very well written Zarmeena. Indeed you have to move on no matter what.Recommend

  • http://facebook Palwasha Ikram

    Excellently written article..its really sad n tragic that innocent people in peshawar are becoming target of such selfish,evil and inhumane terrorist every other day..GOD bless our whole country and INSHAHALLAH we will all remain united like a very strong nation.No one can underestimate and ruin our strong and invincible country.. Recommend