The Days of Terror – Part 1

27th December 2007 – was a date that changed history. Had the event  – the fatal event – that took place on this dark day not happened, the political scenario of Pakistan would have been quite different from what it is now. But it did happen – and changed the course of history.

On this day – the former Prime Minister of Pakistan and an internationally acclaimed leader, Benazir Bhutto was assassinated after she had conducted a pre-election rally. But her assassination was not taken quietly. Protesters overran the streets and riots swelled through-out the nation. Though, eventually the riots were brought under control – their effects yet lingered and still linger.

I remember vividly the events that occurred in my life in congruence with the Assassination of Benazir Bhutto.

Below is an account of what I experienced during those days of terror  —

6:30 – 9:30 pm, 27th December ’07.

I was indulged in a discussion with my family, when a horn beeped – it was Baba who had just returned from work. I ran to open the gate and when the gate was wide open – Baba remembered that he had to order the window frames for our new house and due to work, he had completely forgotten about them.

Baba edged out of the garage again and set out for the iron works showroom situated at the mouth of the colony.

I closed the gates and once again reabsorbed into discussion with my sisters.

It had only been minutes, when horn once again beeped outside. I assumed that the showroom was closed so Baba had returned, as I opened the gate.

As soon as Baba had parked neatly, he clambered out of the car and rushed into the house. He grabbed the remote and opened the television.

Ami inquired,” Maasat {that’s what my mother and father call one another, it means “cousin” in Sindhi}, was the showroom closed?”

Baba gravely replied, flicking through the channels,” The showroom owner was saying that Benazir Bhutto has been assassinated at some rally … and I should return to home as riots are sure to happen. And so I sped back home!”

He finally stopped at Dawn News.

And there was the dreaded news.

“Benazir Bhutto Assassinated” — the blood red headline screamed and I could feel the despair that spread into the atmosphere of the room. The despair clung to my heart firmly and hopeless, my heart sinking, I watched the news as slowly details were being evinced and a sickening surge rose inside me with every new headline.

It was a moment that I would never forget – and also the feelings that had arisen with it. Despondency had blended with grief to create a sundried emotion – an emotion that ached, that stung, that throbbed. But above all, I was stunned. I had watched her just a day back in a press conference on television! She couldn’t be dead now. She was to contest the elections. She was to live. She was the hope of my people.

It was a devastating moment – a moment that had invoked every emotion – rage, grief, disbelief and anguish within me.

I was shaken out of my ponderings when the door bell rang. I asked who it was and it turned out to be my cousin. I hurried to open the door. Baba accompanied me.

My house is located at the end of colony – so it is a kind of sanctuary as it is far from the main road – where my shaken cousin reported riots had already started and recounted that some of the hedonistic men had ambushed him on his way back home with sticks at the Nasim Nagar Chowk. He had with very much difficulty swerved through the men, and thus escaping, plunged straight into the colony and stopped only when he had reached the relative safety of our house.

We were talking with cousin, when another man in a Mehran screeched to halt besides us and climbed out of it. The car’s back screen was shattered to pieces – the man was traumatized and he was bound to be traumatized as his life had been in danger and he had narrowly managed to escape it: the riots or the anguished men being not the cause of shock but the fact that he could’ve died there at the hands of the debauched was mortifying.

Baba asked me to bring a glass of water for him.

With fumbling hands, the man drank water and uttered a few quivering words as answers to my father and cousin’s inquiries. After drinking water, the man went into a reverie and weighing his options, headed over for his car despite Baba’s protestations that he should better stay – but the man was too shocked and too anxious to return back to the safety of his own home. He sped out of the colony.

I never got to know what happened to him.

But by then, a new problem had sprung up. My cousin’s house is located in the beginning of the colony and since they had two cars, they parked one outside and the other inside in the garage. Since their house was in close proximity to the main road, parking the car outside would have culminated into a catastrophe as the riotous crowds were on move – and if they would’ve spotted the car, they would’ve smashed it into smithereens. So we were thinking as to where cousin should park the car, when Baba was struck with an idea.

He rang the bell of our neighbors’ house who was more like our family friends – their garage was empty since they didn’t own a car. Our neighbor gladly acceded to Baba’s request and cousin parked the car inside safely. Cousin was satisfied, and after having tea at our place, trudged back to return home.

Meanwhile, we were all glued to television as news about riots in various cities of Sindh broke in – the atmosphere of the lounge was tangible and disbelieving. It all seemed so ethereal – unrealistic to the extremes.

But one thing we understood that worst riots were to take place in Qasimabad, the area in which we lived, since it was a staunch-Sindhi area.

And we all knew that more bad was to happen.

This was just the teaser.

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5 thoughts on “The Days of Terror – Part 1

  1. Hira says:

    will be awaiting the full story.
    i didnt know you had things that bad around your place during those days!

  2. Salman Latif says:

    It was a terrible incident and the consequences no less so!!
    Sad and unfortunate.

  3. Anas Shafqat says:

    @ Hira – I would be updating the second part soon.

    @ Salman – Indeed.

  4. Dev!l says:

    Shows to go how much of a brain our people use

  5. Anas Shafqat says:

    Well, yeah.

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