Stories about killing

Karachi, my city of violence

Two nights ago, I heard sounds of blaring ambulances as I entered my house. The next day while I was on my way to work, my brother called me and told  me to turn back because the situation in the city might get ‘Orangi-ised’ by evening. The ambulances I heard had been carrying the bodies of two men shot at Johar Chorangi, just half a kilometer from my house. For once, I thought it wise to listen to my brother, and went back home. While I stayed at home I was only too aware that innocent people were dying and many ...

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Samina is waiting for a miracle

Samina, my maid’s daughter, is being forced to get engaged to a boy, who she has never seen or spoken to. When she asked her mother about him, she found out that the boy was a 12-year-old child. Frustrated, Samina tried to cut her wrist with a blade, but all in vain – she will be engaged on the coming weekend. I could sense the remorse in her voice, when she told me about this, as she was not prepared to face such a responsibility. Samina’s dreams were to go to school, read the Holy Quran and learn English – all ...

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Partying with pistols

It was an ominous day for the attendees of a dance party taking place on Khayaban-e-Rahat in Karachi.  I can imagine the scene: alcohol was ample, the DJ was working the crowd and amongst this unsupervised and posh array of people, a shoot out took place. Firing outside the gates of prominent parties is a common occurrence in Pakistan and not a lot of people take it seriously. In fact, in my experience, if there was a shoot out at a party, it was usually preceded by an exchange of threats and followed by a phadda or an altercation. The ...

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All that’s wrong

What do you do when the very people who vow to guard your life end up being the ones taking it? On Wednesday, a horrific incident unfolded when some Rangers personnel shot dead a young man at Benazir Bhutto Park in Karachi. Initially, the police and Rangers claimed they were informed that a dacoit had held a family hostage in the park. According to the security personnel, they went inside the park and asked the man to surrender, and when he refused, he was shot “in retaliation”. However, video footage of the incident shot by a cameraman shed new light on the ...

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Rangers shooting: Lust for blood

The video of Sarfaraz Shah’s last traumatic moments imploded on to cyber space with some enthusiasm and a profusion of expletives. Messages like “check kar yeh video” (check out this video), “here’s the full video, yaar,”  “sharing the HD version,” “uncut footage” and “exclusive video” pepper the Facebook newsfeed. Bloodied and battered thumbnails accompany the excited posts. Lust for blood, it seems, is not exclusive to criminals. Slowly, steadily and grimly, Sarfaraz Shah’s life was extinguished on tape. His blood was squeezed out drop by drop, fanning out in a wider and wider crimson circle around his wiry frame, as ...

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To leave or not to leave Pakistan

As a kid, I had made up my mind to not leave this country even if it was falling apart. But then again, the biggest worry at that time was whether it was safe to stay out late at night. Things have changed now and that, too, rapidly and drastically.  Now the situation is such that there’s no guarantee that even when you go to pray, you’ll come back alive. The past few days put things in better perspective. On Monday, while everyone only sang OBL tunes, Karachi was set ablaze. Vehicles were torched as if they were for free, people killed ...

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Not everyone who dies tragically is a ‘shaheed’

In Pakistan the suffix shaheed is frequently used for politicians, scholars, journalists, armed forces personnel and even militants depending upon how people or the media conceives that person. The use of the word shaheed is indeed another gift of Zia’s era when martyrdom was glorified during the Afghan war. Our armed forces have been engaged in conflict against militants since 2004. These militants claim that the killing of innocent Muslims, mostly women and children, doesn’t make soldiers  martyrs and, that in fact they are wajib-ul-qatal (punishable by murder) for this offence. So a militant is considered a shaheed among his ...

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Karachi equals target killing

The term “target killing,” now used as synonym for Karachi, crops up after every two to three months here. The killers certainly have an agenda have lists of people to hit, so as to provoke a reaction from various religious sects, ethnic backgrounds, and social groups. As soon as a precious life is lost, there come, as a backup of the assassins, statements from the media and political or religious quarters that marginalize the efficiency of stake holders of this city of 18 million. Such news reports spread like wild fire all around the city as well as globally, ...

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