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Friday, 12 March 2010

A nation living with fears!

I promised you a follow up story to the recent bomb in Lahore and apologise for the delay. Anyway for your attention and perusal I am pleased to include a first hand report on the impact of the recent bombing. This rather revealing and disturbing, if not heart wrenching report of the recent bomb in Lahore, was received toady via Sumbel Daniel, a local resident:

"On the Morning of 8th March 2010 I was rushing towards my workplace, a renowned and large school in Model Town Lahore.

Students were scheduled to complete their final exams, so I went straight to my classroom eager to prepare the session. As I completed distributing examination papers, a loud terrifying sound reverberated around the whole school. Windows shattered and the walls of the room shook some even cracked. A panic ensued as many of the students and teachers in the school recognised the sound, having been involved in a bomb blast before on the 11th of February 2008.

At this stage it was not apparent whether the blast had occurred on the school premises or in the nearby vicinity.

My students were terrified and I myself was still rather shaken. However, I put my wits together and led the children out, following or preset evacuation procedures. I noticed whilst doing this, that other teachers also, uniformly applied our correct procedures.

Students were crying, some of them believed that blast occurred in the primary school wing, where their younger sibling were studying.

As we settled ourselves in the evacuation zone a frenzied panic ensued. Students and teachers were calling friends and family to check on their status. My situation was no different, I was trying to contact my younger sister, praying that the blast did not occur at her workplace, just a road away from mine. I also called my youngest sister, who had just dropped me to school 10 minutes earlier and had to pass through the local "K-block" to reach her university. The fact that my brother work’s in an office near to K block compounded my concern.

After they all responded to my calls, I felt the panic leave me. I started to concentrate on the students, trying to stop their panic and high emotions.

Eventually we got to know that the blast occurred in K-block. It transpires that a secret agency office was targeted at 08:15 near a local theological seminary headed by Dr Israr Ahmed in Model town.

Since then I have surveyed the damage to the local community. Hundreds of houses have had there window's shattered, walls were cracked and for many their houses were completely demolished.

People died after the collapse of their houses and even those passing by fared no better with many dying. An even larger number of people have sustained major and minor injuries, caused by shattered glass and debris that fell upon them.

The incident brought back tragic memories of the blast of 2008 that occurred in F-block of Model Town. Schools are always threatened with terrorists attacks and this has made our staff and pupils constantly on edge. On both occasions those at the school believed that the blast occurred at our school. I will never forget the faces of frightened students - or parents arriving at our school, screaming and crying. Each time the ensuing panic leads to threats from parents that they will break down the security gates. In the emotional fervour that such event induce, parents just want to clasp their children tight in their arms to protect them.

Since the last 2 years, the threats of explosions in academic institutions have created a sense of insecurity and trepidation amongst students, parents and teachers.

Only Today there were 2 blasts at a bus stop at RA bazaar Lahore. While I am writing this, there is a news of 5 blasts within the last hour at Allama Iqbal town. There were 6 blasts in the last 12 hours in Lahore City. Who could think 5 years back that even educational institutes, shopping parades/markets and residential areas, would no longer be safe.

Instead of talking about fairy tales, the kindergarten students are found talking about blasts. Terrorist attacks and games about blasts are now an unsavoury but popular past time .

The people of Pakistan are afraid to go to shopping malls, recreational places, homes and in fact anywhere - especially during the few days after a blast.

There are so many unexplainable things which seem small but matter a lot. People are afraid to sit in rickshaws driven by Pathans (suspected to be Taliban). Educational and recreational trips are strongly discouraged. People do not roam about their community as freely as they used to and only leave their houses if thy have a strong purpose. Such factors have demoralised our communities, and removed the strong ties and links that local people used to have with one another.

An unconscious fear has become a part of everyone’s life, an uncertainty, and a sense of insecurity. We have no choice other than this -to carry on regardless with all these fears burdening our very souls!

Sumbel Daniel

This touching piece brings to light the major consequences of a large scale terrorist attack. Quite clearly people in Pakistan, are reeling from wave after wave of tragedies and atrocities. Although without a doubt, the upsurge of extremism in Pakistan is affecting minority faiths groups. It cannot be denied that all Pakistanis are severely disorientated by recent events. I hope and pray that the Pakistani Government ,will either allow more western intervention in resolving the ongoing problems in Pakistan, or alternatively that they, will pool more resources, into making Pakistan a safe place to live.


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  2. Sadia Riaz - Pakistan12 March 2010 at 18:59

    the 8th blast occured in model town lahore,it was smaller in intensity, however,people are really scared. The blasts just seem to be forces and agencies have asked people not to come out from their homes and stay inside the homes............