Confined in Chains, The Future is Dark..

Children at the Madrassa Zakariya, 5 days after the Raid

An unannounced visit to any of Pakistan’s Government Hospital’s will explain without doubt, why there are thousands of Quacks, Spiritual Healers, Pirs, and so called Gifted Individuals playing with the lives of millions in Pakistan.

A Sindh Police raid on the 12th of December at a Madrassa in Sorabh Goth, freed dozens of boys and young men, who were until then being subjected to gross Human Rights Violations – under the pretext that they were being Cured.

Those freed, claimed to be locked up for various reasons. Some for being supposedly possessed, while others for drug addictions. Most had been brought to the ‘Isla’hi Markaz’  or Correctional Center,  by their Parents, to be Cured (or fixed).

During the Media Frenzy that Monday night, conflicting stories of Taliban visit’s and Militant training, Beatings and brutal living conditions resonated on TV sets, from Islamabad to Karachi & beyond.

“My father took me to several spiritual healers who said I was a victim of black magic,” claimed Azmat Ulla, speaking to AFP.

The reason such ‘Isla’hi Marakiz’ exist, is because they provide a cheaper alternative for Pakistan’s poorest – taking care of those with learning difficulties, mental illness & drug problems – than having to lock up the patient or care for him, at home.

Religious seminaries – attached to mosques – are the only schools & sometimes permanent shelters for the poorest children. It is estimated that two million boys are educated in Pakistan’s 15,000+ madrassa’s.

It was now Friday, 5 days had passed since the Police raided Madrassa Zakariya but to my surprise, Wali Muhammad the crying 6 year old whose face was carried by many global publications (and was aired to millions of households), was still at the Madrassa.

Traumatized by Monday’s events Wali Muhammad became hysterical when he saw the Policemen accompanying me. It took a lot of talking before he finally calmed down and smiled for a picture.

When he spoke, he did not describe the madrassa as a Chamber of Torture, where he was being held against his will. Instead he seemed, quite at home. He wasn’t alone either, about a dozen young boys crowded around us when the Police had stepped away.

The temporary Headmaster of the madrassa Mufti Amin Jaan argued, that local news channels had done a great disservice to Pakistan. He said he was sad, that now the world was talking about Pakistan, about how young boys were being indoctrinated for Jihad, when it was not true.

"Curse Upon the Liars - Area Residents"

The local SHO gave credence to the story. According to him, no militant traces were found from the premises, no literature of any kind – which is the norm – instead the only texts found at the madrassa were copies of the Holy Quran, and Ahadees of the Prophet (PBUH).

While Mufti Amin Jaan argued that the ‘Isla’hi Markaz’ was a seperate entity from the madrassa; where regular lessons were conducted, and no body was locked up. His defense does not remove the scars that Wali Muhammad and dozens of other young children will live with for years to come, having seen others locked up like animals.

The sad part is, countless more will experience first hand or witness similar brutality that was practiced at Madrassa Zakariya by Mufti Dawood.

It will take nothing short of a miracle before Pakistan can provide state care for those in the grip of drug addiction, evil spirits or muscle spasms. Until then, the locking up of those “in need of medical attention” will continue; and many Mufti Dawood’s will provide ‘Isla’hi Marakiz’ like the Chamber of Torture seen on TV.

Confined in Chains, the Future of Pakistan is Dark. Without them, it may be Darker.

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Zardari Ki Bimaari

Back in 2008, when the candidates for Pakistan’s Presidential Race were submitting their nomination papers; i sat in a corner penning my thoughts. Today when AP broke the story that President Asif Ali Zardari did infact suffer from a Stroke (or something slightly milder), i decided to fish out my penned thoughts from August 2008…

No Monkey Wrench, just wrenched Monkeys 
Ovais.Jafar – 28th August 2008

As Pakistan gets ready for a new president, it was a pleasant surprise to see all three candidates nomination papers be accepted, without any monkey wrenches being hurled by opposing party candidates. However it is very interesting to see a nation of monkeys sitting on the sidelines, not even blinking at this wonderful orchestra performance.

If evolution had kicked in sooner, and we had evolved from ape, into man; many more of us would be questioning the somewhat submissive acceptance by the Chief Election Commissioner.

According to Senator Khalid Ranjha, former president of the Supreme Court Bar and one time Law Minister – Each candidate would have had to submit proof of Qualification as well as Disclose all Assets, at home and abroad. As stated in the Constitution of Pakistan – a candidate must not suffer from mental disabilities proven in a competent Court of Law.

Senator Ranjha, in our brief conversation pointed out that recently released money from Swiss Bank Accounts (approx 60 million dollars) could have hampered Mr. Zardari’s nomination.

60 million dollars or not; I cannot seem to get past the allegations made by the international news daily “Financial Times”.

In a recent article they claim to have been shown Court documents submitted by Mr. Zardari’s lawyers – citing mental instability, post traumatic stress disorder, dementia, major depression, loss of memory, the list goes on.

With no medical knowledge, I personally believe ailments of the mind can be cured by the mind. After all Britain’s greatest Statesman “Winston Churchill” was suffering from Depression, and as Dr. Cosmo Hallstrom from London’s Imperial College puts it; “He was Britain’s greatest Statesman, who saved it from its Darkest hour”.

Dr. Hallstrom also pointed out, that although Churchill suffered from depression, it was curable just like post traumatic stress. The alarming statement was about “dementia” another ailment Mr. Zardari is said to have been suffering from. As Dr. Hallstrom put it, it has no Cure.

If this is true, why wasn’t an issue raised about this during the election commission’s scrutiny. If  Mr. Zardari is really suffering and these ailments were not simply created to delay court proceedings (which they successfully did), the new question is,  can Zardari be Pakistan’s Churchill ??

-END-

Whether you would like me to eat my hat or my shoes for comparing AAZ to Winston Churchill I do not know, and quite frankly i do not care.  He might not have done much for Pakistan, but I’m sure if Winston was alive today.. He’d be taking classes from A.A.Z !!

The Death of English…

During a job interview in Lahore, at the purpose built headquarters of a soon-to-launch news channel, I was asked how I felt about hosting an English language program to cater to the expats responsible for many important decisions.
 
My response back in 2008; the ones who matter already have the means to get the information they need. The idea of an English language news program was great, but not to satisfy the appetites of expats. It was important, first, to satisfy the needs of our own people.
 
The most common response to my idealism – as it was usually considered – was how Geo English had not launched and Dawn News was a failing product from the get-go.
 
I still maintain, had Geo English launched, Dawn News would have understood the difference and gone Urdu a lot sooner, and Express 24/7 would have never seen the light of day.
 
To understand why, it must be noted that from the team that was trained for Geo English, many became the faces of Dawn News. Many more worked behind the scenes as producers, reporters and copy writers.
 
When the time came for Express 24/7, it was launched – again – by most of the core team that was trained for Geo English (the ones who were part of the buildup from NewsDay – Geo’s first English bulletin – till GE’s death)
 
The people who went to Dawn were mostly foreign educated, western influenced individuals. The ones that fell in 24/7’s lap were the thoroughbred Pakistani brains.
 
The mix of those groups of people together had been the winning combination, a real Pakistani English news team. Their target audience was not limited to the whiskey-sipping, cigar smoking, Chanel-adoring Pakistani.
 
The viewer in Nazimabad, the one tucked away in Anarkali, and the young students who would sit at the dhabba in Shadi Khan, were also GE’s target audience.
 
I write this, as an obituary, for the one who was aborted in 2008, the one who denied its existence and the one that died just yesterday.
 
The death of independent English language programming has denied the student of a teacher; who would rely on the English News to improve his own.
 
Before you disagree with my argument; let me tell you about Usman, a colleague who speaks English with a strong american accent.
 
The first time I met Usman, I had approached him to inquire what such a westernized individual was doing in the graveyard shift at an Urdu channel.
 
It turned out that Usman’s English was the product of watching lots of Hollywood movies. He didn’t just enjoy his movies, he learned from them. After years of copying and training himself today he can speak fluent English, with an American accent.
 
I myself have done the same. Only in my case, it took me 20 minutes to read a 2-inch story in the daily Jang back in 2009 and I took a full 10 minutes just to say the word ‘haq-e-khud-iradiyat’ (that’s ‘right to self determination’ in Urdu).
 
Today not only can I type in Urdu, I often correct grammatical mistakes in my colleagues’ copy.
 
To whom do I owe the credit for my achievement? All the Urdu News Channels that I have learned from and the many newspapers and Urdu periodicals I have read.
 
In case you’re still having difficulty accepting my argument, let me remind you of a show called ‘Sesame Street’. Over the last 4 decades, it has taught millions of children, the alphabet, numbers, how to share, and play together. 74 million people in the US alone have learned the basics from this TV Show.
 
If a pre-schooler can learn his alphabet from TV, why can’t an adult learn English the same way?
 
There are many examples out there similar to Usman, if it weren’t for them, the call center industry might not have thrived here.
 
Let’s now observe a moment of silence, on the death of independent English Language programming in Pakistan.
 
Its not just a loss for the burgers, the bun kabab has lost more.

Sim Sim Humara : Sesame Street comes to Pakistan

Back in 1966, when the first discussions about a television show to help young children prepare for school were underway; who would have thought that 45 years later the resulting show would be preparing children for school the world over – across 120 countries, through 20 independent international versions.

The latest addition to the Sesame Street Franchise is Sim Sim Humara. A collaboration between Sesame Workshop and the Rafi Peer Theatre Workshop, funded by USAID’s US$ 20 million 4 year project, Sim Sim Humara will start airing in Pakistan later next month.

It seems Washington is now trying to quash the influence of radicalism in Pakistan even before it makes inroads into young minds.  According to a former Education Officer of USAID, Larry Dolan; “One of the key goals of the show in Pakistan is to increase tolerance toward groups like women and ethenic minorities.”

For this a total of 78 Episodes will be aired over the next 3 years in Urdu. Another 13 in Sindhi, as well as in Pashtu, Punjabi and Balochi are said to be on the cards.

Most grownups today will remember Elmo, Big Bird, Ernie, Bert, Oscar, Grover, Cookie Monster, & the Count. The list of characters is long and memorable. However the Famous Sesame Crew will not be available in Pakistan – with the exception of Elmo.

The Cast of Sim Sim Humara will include Rani a 6 year old (as the Lead) who loves Cricket and Pakistani Music, she will be flanked by Munna a 5 year old obsessed with numbers (Pakistani version of Count), while Baily the donkey, Haseen-o-Jameel the Crocodile and Baaji a strong woman are amongst the few characters that have been identified.

Baji, Rani and Munna

Sesame has successfully adapted to change. Over the years Sesame’s various independent versions have seen specific characters to address the issues in that society. To address the rising AIDS epidemic, Kami a 5-year old HIV-positive Muppet was introduced in Sesame’s South African version. In 2006 Abby Cadabby joined the show as its first female star character to provide a role model for young girls.

Kami with Bill Clinton and Abby Cadabby

The ever growing popularity of Sesame Street can be gauged by its viewership. When the original Sesame Street first aired on November 10th back in 1969, a reported 1.9 million households in America had tuned in. By 1979, the viewership had reached 9 million viewers.

A 1993 U.S. Department of Education survey stated, out of a total of 6.6 million viewers, 2.4 million were Kindergartners, 86% of first and second graders had watched Sesame Street before starting school. 74 million Americans claim to have grown up watching Sesame Street; today 8 million young viewers tune in weekly in USA alone.

Evaluations conducted in the early 70’s have shown Sesame’s positive educational impact on its viewers. Additional studies over the past 4 decades have shown a continued positive effect, due to its content based on laboratory and formative research; following a curriculum “detailed or stated in terms of measurable outcomes.”

Over the years Sesame Street’s format has changed from a magazine type to a more narrative type after research showed its young viewers attention could be held for longer periods than first anticipated. The collection of short funny segments that some blamed for shrinking children’s attention span was phased out.

Since the very first guest appearance when James Earl Jones read the Alphabet, 400 celebrities have followed. From US Presidents Clinton, and Obama to First Ladies (Barbara Bush, Hillary Clinton, Laura Bush, and Michele Obama), to Hollywood Superstars and even Michael Jackson, everyone has made an appearance on Sesame Street.

The latest season (42nd) will have  celebrity guest appearances by Amy Adams, Nicole Kidman, Mila Kunis, Bruno Mars, Conan O’Brien, and Seth Rogen to name a few.

According to the shows production team, guest stars help draw in parents and keep the show feeling current. Whether Sim Sim Humara will showcase Pakistan’s A-list or not, I cannot say, but I do hope that Sesame’s Pakistani twist will keep the essence of Sesame Street alive.

In case you’re  in the mood to reminisce;  here’s a trip down memory lane. My Name is You.

PIA : [Monkey] Business As Usual

PIA 747 & US AIR FORCE ONE

Pakistan International Airlines has been in dire straits for a very long time. The reasons behind it are many, but one thought process that exists amongst the fat men that are running the national airline is the most disturbing. They have this idea that no matter what happens; PIA will not be shut down, will not be privatized, and therefore they can use and abuse PIA like a motel room they have rented for a few hours.

The most interesting monkey business that has come to light is one concerning the 747 fleet. According to PIA’s own website, “The Boeing 747 is often referred to as “Jumbo Jet”, [and] is the world’s most iconic and recognizable jet airplane. This 4 engine long haul wide-body airplane has a two deck configuration. PIA operated two variants of 747 family which includes 747-300 and 747-200 Combi.”

According to Pilots, Aviation Experts, and Airplane fans the world over, the 747 has played a major role in making the air transport industry what it is today. While many world airlines have moved on; inducting the latest model of Boeing or Airbus aircrafts in their fleet, there still remain hundreds in active service.  However as stated on PIA’s website “At present due to its capacity, 747-300 fleet is mostly deployed to cater high density requirements like carrying intending pilgrims to and from Saudi Arabia.”

It is interesting to note, that from PIA’s current fleet comprising of B777 variants, A310’s, ATR’s, and the 747’s; it is the 747 that is the only profitable aircraft.

According to the actual aircraft profitability report for the year 2009 and 2010 the 747 family was the only profitable aircraft contributing 2.08 billion rupees and 2.36 billion rupees respectively to PIA’s receipts.

Going by the recent performance audit report of PIA for the period 2008-2010; it was brought to light that PIA management is in the process of cannibalizing/scrapping these national assets – the 747’s are fully owned by PIA – it was also pointed out that PIA has recently sold as scrap, one its 747’s for a paltry sum of 10.3 million rupees. While the details of the sale were requisitioned by the audit party that same were not furnished even after constant reminders.

The 747 in question was inducted in PIA’s fleet in 1999, after having flown for 12 years by Cathay Pacific.  There was some monkey business that went down in its purchase, but that I shall save for another day. The aircraft flew with PIA from 1999, till 2008 when it was stored at Sialkot, due to high operating and maintenance costs. The “Jumbo” in question was finally parted out in 2011 at Karachi.

In PIA’s performance audit report it is clearly stated that “Audit would like to know why PIAC opted to sell off an airworthy aircraft whose operating cost is the least when compared to other aircrafts in PIAC’s fleet, because it is wholly owned by PIAC.” The same report also states that “comparative statement sheet listing all the bidders who took part in the tender process and the bid price of each participant was requisitioned, but the same was not provided to audit till the close of audit.”

The audit report raises many questions regarding feasibility studies and whether PIA looked at the possibility of converting the aircraft into a freighter (as done by Air China). However none of these questions have been addressed by the management of Pakistan International Airlines.

It seems PIA will in the near future completely phase out its 747 fleet, the only fleet that is owned fully by PIA and therefore is the cheapest to operate. Yet in this year’s Hajj operation PIA did not fly its own 747’s and instead leased older versions of the same that has cost the airline between 5 and 8 million dollars. According to PALPA president Suhail Baloch had the faulty engines been repaired in time PIA could have saved 6.9 million dollars (approximately 600 million rupees).

Whether PIA’s management continues to live in a fool’s paradise and leases newer aircraft under the pretext of them being more fuel efficient, I cannot say for certain. However I would like to end my rant for today, with some facts about another 747, the Air Force One – the designated aircraft of the President of the United States of America.

The US Presidents “Air Force One” is also a Boeing 747.  In fact there are 2 units of the said aircraft bearing tail numbers 28000 (inducted in Aug 1990) and 29000 (inducted in Dec 1990).  While these aircraft have been specially configured to the needs of the President, the choice of the 747 as “Air Force One” in its self says a lot about the aircraft’s standing. It may also be of interest that the 2 Air Force One (tail number 28000 and 29000) will be phased out in 2017, the aircraft would by then be 27 years old.

Just for comparisons sake, the 747 PIA cannibalized and sold for scrap was 23.8 years old when PIA laid it to rest. The US Air Force One is 21 years old and will continue to serve as Air Force one till 2017, and lastly the 747’s I wrote about earlier – are 25 years old.

May Sense Prevail… !!

PIA : All is [NOT] Well !!

PIA Collage

Thank God you fly in a Plane !!

Post Hajj; PIA has started bringing home the Haji’s. Delay’s ranging anywhere between 2 and 10+ hours, it is only understandable why the pilgrims are most unhappy with… the not so “great people to fly with.”

Waiting for PIA’s MD, Nadeem Yusufzai; I asked if I could stroll around the magnificent Head Office. With its fountain aquariums, multiple open plan coffee bays, canvas layered ceilings, I forgot for a moment that I was at the offices of PIA, an airline that is as far from its motto, as I am from the moon.

When I finally met Mr. Yusufzai he was accompanied by the ‘fat men’ from Shakespeare’s Julius Ceaser; one of them fell asleep five minutes into the interview. I could see this was going quite well.

Seated in the MD’s Guest Lounge, I inquired how he saw this year’s Hajj Operation. Not expecting him to admit mistakes, he was first critical of those who had drummed on, that PIA’s Hajj operation would be a complete failure. Then he started to compare PIA to Pakistan Railways… Hello !! Apples & Oranges ?!?

When asked why PIA had to rent the pair of 747-200 series aircraft from Hellenic Imperial Airways, the MD responded that one of PIA’s Aircraft, a 747-200 Combi-Freighter (AP-BAK) had developed corrosion and therefore they had to rent the two aircraft [a story that PIA’s Engineering department rubbished], he then went on to state how lucky PIA was that they got these Aircraft in the first place.

I was a little unmoved, considering we had two 747’s sitting in our Hangars (AP-BGG and AP-BFV), and 4 engines from AP-BFX that was scrapped earlier this year. The MD responded that 3 engines had gone for repairs and the aircraft in the Hangar were there for due maintenance; questioning me if it would have been better to fly those aircraft without maintenance, putting passengers at risk. Well obviously not Mr. MD, but don’t you think it would have been smarter to have these repairs done sooner?

Why am I making the engines such a bone of contention? Because had we not leased these 747-200’s from Hellenic, we would have saved 400 million rupees in rent for the 400 hours that PIA MD Nadeem Yusufzai says they (SX-TIC & SX-TIE) have already flown.

It was interesting that on some points I was better versed than the MD, as he put it; my questions were coming across as bouncers he was having difficulty facing.

This comment came, when I asked why AP-BFV, an aircraft that recently went for Section 41 Modification in Garuda Indonesia was inoperable due to missing engine parts. The only Response, “Kabhi Parts nikaal laitay hain”.

A few more questions confirmed, the MD wasn’t on top of his game as far as the 747’s were concerned, and it was probably better to inquire about the problems, the electronic media had been ranting about, and the returning pilgrims had identified. Why were the flights so Late?

I was really thrown off my footing when the MD claimed only 7 flights out of 250 were late. Yes, after hearing this I too, wondered if the Haji’s and the Pakistani Electronic media had been lying.

According to Mr Yusufzai, 4 PIA Aircraft had been standing at the Saudi Airport, and it wasn’t PIA’s fault the Haji’s weren’t on time. He blamed the Muallim, and the Maktabs. Then came the excuse of teething problems, which according to the MD happen every year.

Responding to the delays faced by the Pilgrims, MD PIA Nadeem Yusufzai said; Delay’s happen, sometimes its immigration, sometimes due to flat tires, adding that Pilgrims went on Camelback and on foot before, they should be thankful, now they travel in Airplanes…

At this point I said thank you, because I could take no more.

1st on Site: The Minutes after the Blast

It was a couple of minutes before 7:30AM I was awoken by a severe shock wave that shook my bed. I had returned from the office some 45 minutes earlier and initially thought the blast to be an earthquake.

Just then I received a call informing me off visible smoke rising from the opposite end of saba avenue and Khayban-e-Itehad.

Automatically my first call was to the assignment desk at work. A minute later I was speeding down Saba Avenue which is two streets behind my own house. The road ahead was blocked; from the Khayban-e-Itehad intersection, onwards.

This road serves as the main artery for the hundreds of cars dropping off children to the near dozen high schools, colleges, and primary schools in the area.

The Explosion had taken place on 32nd Street, next to the corner house on 32nd and Khayban-e-Roomi.

The closest to the site, is CAS, a private school on the corner of Saba Avenue and Khayan-e-Roomi. Occupiying the entire block, its back wall faces 31st Street; which houses Darakshan Police Station. There are 2 more schools in a 500 meter Radius from the epicenter of the explosion; Washington International and Beaconhouse.

I could see that almost all visible glass on the exterior windows of the school building was broken. I parked my car between 31st and 32nd Street on Khayaban-e-Roomi, and rushed closer to the blast site.

Cars had been strewn about like match boxes. The remains of a double cabin Toyota Hilux Vigo was lying turtle, blocking the road leading back to Saba Avenue. Itself destroyed beyond recognition, it was partly crushing a Toyota Corolla. It seemed this Vigo had flipped from the blast site on 32nd St to land smack in the middle of the road on Khayban-e-Roomi. Twisted remains of motorcycles lay scattered on the street.
A Hilux Police Mobile, which had been posted outside the targeted house, was partially destroyed from the explosion.

SSP CID Chaudhry Aslam’s house occupies the corner plot on 32nd Street and Khayban-e-Roomi. Its Exterior wall had vanished. The entire outer wall of the first floor, facing 32nd Street had collapsed. Any furniture that might have been present in the rooms was no where to be seen. It had all turned to rubble.

The explosion had left a large crater approximately 12 feet in diameter and atleast 6-8 feet deep at its lowest point.
The road had cracks leading up the pavement lining the empty plots. My first assessment was that an explosive laden vehicle had rammed into the side of Chaudhry Aslam’s residence.

The house right next door to Chaudhry Aslam’s had been severly damaged as well. Crushed remains of a Honda Civic and and a Toyota Corolla could been seen in the carpark. I could not see grills on any windows of either house, which is a norm in almost all houses in the area. I learned later, the shockwave ripped them out and they too had blown inwards like cotton wool.

The targeted house on one side has Kh-e-Roomi – a two lane main road – and on 32nd street it faces empty plots. The first house, an under construction site helped guage the intensity. Its boundry wall, at a distance of 150-200 feet from the epicenter, had collapsed. I could see two pillars that would have been support beams for the boundary wall lying against the main buildings exterior walls.

The rubble of another Toyota Hilux lay in the empty plot between the uncerconstuction house and 32nd Street. It seems this vehicle had flown from the epicenter of the explosion approximately 150-175 ft to its present location where it too lay, with tyres facing the sky.

Bodies lay strewn all over the place. One on Khayban-e-Roomi, two on the corner of Roomi and 32nd. I could see disfigured remains of another body infront of the house next to Chaudhry Aslam’s on 32nd Street.

Back on Khayaban-e-Roomi, a Toyota Corolla (indus model) lay badly damaged, on the opposite side of the road, on the lane leading away from Saba Avenue. Its drivers side facing the empty plots on the opposite side of the road, in front of the SSP CID’s residence. If anyone had been in the driving seat, survival would be a miracle.

There stood a small Suzuki hatchback, that seemingly had been damaged by the shockwave. Its drivers side showing signs of a sonic blow. Further down Khayaban-e-Roomi stood a Honda City, that too had serious damage. Upon closer inspection there were visible signs of projectiles having pierced the doors on the drivers side.

The houses diagonally opposite Chaudhry Aslam’s residence had visible exterior damage. The gate of one house had been ripped from one side, its steel twisting outwards. Inside, the cars had been wrecked by the shockwave, broken glass, and body damage. The broken glass could be seen on all surrounding buildings.

The first Ambulance finally arrived. Probably having to navigate from the side lanes and residential streets, as the main artery; Saba Avenue had been blocked by the hundreds of cars part of the morning school rush.

This part of defence phase 8 houses three educational institutions, CAS (centre for advanced studies) Beaconhouse and WIS (Washington School). Further down towards the sea there are another 8-10 school, colleges and primary schools. I thought to myself, how many more would have been injured or killed, had the explosion happened a few minutes later, when Khayban-e-Roomi would have been packed with cars returning home after dropping of students.

Police teams had started arriving. I could see senior officials of Clifton Town walking through observing the crime scene. The first responders to the site had been DHA’s security patrol and the Policemen from Darakshan Police Station which is no more than a few hundred yards from the blast site.

I found Rizwan, one of the guards of Chaudhry Aslam who was saved only because he had gone to the washroom. All other Security Personnel part of the Contingent guarding the CID SSP’s residence were no more.

By now the police had started setting up a cordon around Chaudhry Aslam’s residence. At the moment the only thing confirmed was the death toll. 8 dead including a mother who was a teacher at Washington International one of the 3 schools in the immediate vicinity, and her son who was a student there.

Among the 6 others that perished this fateful morning are a Driver, Anwar and his Son, both employed by Chaudhry Aslam’s neighbor. As well as the security personnel on duty at the SSP CID Chaudhry Aslam’s residence.

Now, 12:00AM : I have visited the blast site again – now closed for media personnel – I managed to see that the vehicles damaged in the explosion have remained untouched. The TTP has already claimed responsibility for the attack. The IG Sindh has announced compensation for the martyred law enforcers. Chaudhry Aslam has reaffirmed his resolve on a late night talk show. About an hour ago, I met with the DIG South, who informed me that remains of the Vehicle used in the explosion will be collected from the rooftops of the houses in close proximity in the morning. It has also stated that 4 of the vehicles (2 hilux vigo’s, one toyota corolla (indus) and one current model toyota corolla were Chaudhry Aslam’s, while the white suzuki belonged to the deceased school teacher.

This incident, might have strengthened Chaudhry Aslam’s resolve that he so bravely stated on all channels after the incident, but some residents living within 500 meters of the 32nd street and Khayban-e-roomi intersection, are now considering moving away, to safer pastures.