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Idrees lies injured after the attack – Photo by author
Idrees lies injured after the attack – Photo by author

The flight had been delayed for almost 12 hours now. The passengers had already talked enough about democracy versus dictatorship, the influence of Turkish soaps on Pakistani culture and the “handlers” of Tahir ul Qadri. The waiting lounge was suffocated with vanity and everyone took turns on going out towards the runway for a gasp of fresh air. The blinking lights at the control tower were sending some encrypted messages to an unknown location. The message was beyond comprehension but the transmitted chaos could be observed. Suddenly a halo of light was seen on Quetta’s skyline. The sound of the blast took 10 seconds to reach us. Soon after, television channels were airing the tid bits of the news, much like the blinking runway lights.

This time, the crater could not be found; neither could they ascertain the location of the blast. The toppled burnt vehicles were also missing. Strangely, I could not see the charred bones and bodies which had been penetrated by ball bearings. No membrane or vital organ stuck to the soles and no splinters of pressure cooker landed in distant neighborhood. The ‘site of the blast’ also did not smell of sulphur and the place quickly became smoke-free. Even the walls were not marked by blackened lashes.

There were no half-burnt signboards, wailing women and traumatised children; neither was the air clogged with the heaviness of death. Somebody in the distant backyard talked about apparent dangers to Pakistan and critical juncture, which has now become the permanent location of the country. Ambulances moved freely and DSNG vans of news channels were yet to arrive.

Volunteers administered first aid and segregated the dead from the injured. A policeman held a cigarette in one hand and with the other he wrapped the crime scene with yellow “Stay-away” strips.

It was a snooker club. Hazaras had thought that this side of Alamdar road was the delineation of security. They could exist here (without “threatening” any religious belief) with their own beliefs and appearance. But this boundary existed in the Hazara minds only.

Inside the snooker club, when first bomb went off, everybody rushed outside. The ambulances sped up to the place and people rushed towards the life saviours. As they neared one of the vehicles, it went up in the air. This was the second blast of the day but not the first blow away Hazaras’ sense of security.

The whole scene seemed like it was out of a silent movie. Their chests were infested with needles and eyes were swollen with tears but the pain was invisible. Blood dripped and flowed but did not fall on the ground.

When I saw Idrees, I was relieved. He had taken us through the wonderland called Hazara Town during the shooting of “I am Hazara”. He led us through the narrow but clean alleys to shoot once-in-a-lifetime images and meet life-size people. In the late hours, he had told us his story. His father was an established lawyer in Quetta when it all started. They now lived in Sayedabad but his father ended up finding a space in the Hazara graveyard.

Idrees was badly injured but he too did not say a word, no threats, and no fits of rage.  He did not even raise his both hands in the Karbalai tradition to say Khudaya Khair…a prayer for extremely difficult times. Holding his bleeding shoulder with one hand, he limped toward the first aid station, established by volunteers.

In the lined up corpses, I identified Irfan Ali Khudi by his curly hair. I stepped ahead but this body was nowhere closer to the energetic Hazara activist, I had met on Constitution Avenue. It was too difficult to relate to this silent Irfan so I covered his face again.

Most of those who lost their lives in the blast dead wore the same bluish look, I was told by a nine year old during visit to Hazara Graveyard.  He sat by the fresh grave of his father. I asked him, “How did you find your father, then?” “With his watch, shoe and the two toe-thumbs.”

The Snooker club was a recreational spot for Hazara youth. The visitors ranged between 23 to 30 years of age. With every stroke a new pattern of dreams was designed and discarded. The hurried arrivals and the rushing departures, a cup of qahwa, awaiting mothers and tantrum-throwing fiancés in far off lands of Australia were irrelevant now. The lifeless bodies were free from all and any such bindings.

Somewhere from the memory lane, I realised I had seen it earlier; probably it was Auschwitz and sometime around 1940s, but I could not recall clearly. The shock had affected my memory.

With so many corpses and profuse bleeding, the calmness among the Hazaras was killing me. From dressing the wounds to bathing the dead, I could not find a single tear, a single sob and a single word.

Turning away from Alamdar Road, I was perplexed. Why could I not hear them cry, smell them burn and see them wail? A banner blocked the horizon. It called for Jihad against the infidels and asked for the sacrificial hides. A verse from Iqbal opened the narrative

Keh Khoon-e-Sadd Hazar Anjum Say Hoti Hay Sehar Peda” “From the blood of a hundred thousand stars, rises the sun”

I picked up my phone to call Punjab and felt that I had lost my ear. In an abstract instinct, my index finger checked for the nasal plank, only to feel the plain skin. I then confirmed from the rear-view mirror and found gaping holes instead of the eyes. It was a moment of madness. Before I entered the house, all the three sensory organs had re-grown.

The following morning, after waking up but before opening my eyes, I felt my eyes and ears again. It was probably a disillusion.

Before seeing my psychiatrist for this delusion, I drove to Alamdar road. As soon as the car turned towards the site, I saw my eyes, nose and ears disappearing again. Tuning in the radio, the news hour had begun. Lashkar-i-Jhangvi had claimed responsibility.

The death toll had now crossed one hundred... Yak Sadd Hazara...

Keh Khoon e Sadd Hazar Anjum Say Hoti Hay Sehar Peda From the blood of a hundred thousand stars, rise the sun


Muhammad Hassan Miraj is a federal government employee


The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Muhammad Hassan Miraj is a federal government employee.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (83) Closed

dr zia Jan 11, 2013 07:22pm
I absolutely agree with you Steve. No person of any religion should be killed like this. This is inhumane.
zarar Jan 11, 2013 06:53pm
what do u mean by this ??
ahmed Jan 11, 2013 06:52pm
i am a hazara and i wish to emigrate,, this is the end of the world here, even the hindus are fine for me
Agha Ata (USA) Jan 11, 2013 07:27pm
But in those religions, societies, races and creeds their army always help. Don't they?
zarar Jan 11, 2013 06:38pm
its not religion, they are not and never muslim who kill any, any innocent man ..... they are indeed non muslims creating wedge and divide us in to sects .... they want us to fight with in us ...... will u kill a sunni for any bad he do ?? how come a sunni can do that ... if he do , be assure that its not the religion ... it is either money or he is insane and has been planted by our enemies !! we should unite
Kiani Jan 11, 2013 02:38pm
Just to keep the record straight. this or similar incidents have go nothing to do with Islam. the main reson is ignorance about Islam for these kinds of incidents. Islam does not allow for any of this. this and all other similar disgusting incidents should be condemned in the strongest possible manner and we need to promote proper religious education to stop these from happening once and for all
Agha Ata (USA) Jan 11, 2013 07:19pm
Dear General Kiani, when you say the Army would defend the nation internally and also externally, you are giving statements like a politician, NOt like a general, as you mean nothing.
Altaf Hussain Hazara Jan 11, 2013 02:48pm
i think i have no hope i will be killed and i have no other choice to escape it nor any hope from any corner of the society my voice be silent once for ever and i wont be able to speck even for my self how can i do for others God Bless Pakistan and Pak Army ZindaBad
zarar Jan 11, 2013 06:22pm
brother!! we are with u ... but so helpless we all have became ... wish we had not such coward leaders else its a brave nation
Noor Jan 11, 2013 06:09pm
where is justice now which is there for the killing of one innocent person of Karachi but does not care killing of thousands of innocent shias.
Rafi Jan 11, 2013 02:18pm
What is that about," aaj Teri kal meri Bari hai..............." RIP.
GH Jan 11, 2013 04:52pm
It is pathetic that army is keeping quiet with this genocide in history of Pakistan.
Tejbir Singh Sandhu Jan 11, 2013 01:42pm
I am an Indian citizen but feel bad & sorry upon reading this news . We are humans first & have the right to live a good life .I pray to God that there be peace in Pakistan & wish your country comes out stronger out of these testing times .
Syed Jan 11, 2013 01:56pm
My dear Hazara brothers. I feel your pain. I know the silent majority of Pakistan does not but Shias all across the globe feel your pain. You are my brother in faith and I will keep praying for you and the rest of the Shias in Pakistan and will keep protesting anywhere and everywhere I can.
Zafar Jan 11, 2013 01:59pm
i am a puhtun and my heart cries for them. why don
raika45 Jan 11, 2013 01:59pm
What actually is Islam ? Can someone explain to us non muslims. You kill each other with impunity in the name of your Allah.The one you all pray do and believe.When others point out your barbarism in the name of your religion, you accuse us of insensitivity towards your religion.Pray enlighten us of what really is this religion of yours.And why do you carry out such acts.
aashish Jan 11, 2013 05:40pm
Shame on Pakistan. Where are the human values gone in your country? The problem is that good people are sitting at home like cowards & not coming out to protest, & ugly mindset people are taking full advantage.Division on the name of religion is not going to bring you peace......wake up Pakistanis !! enough bloodshed.....let peace be given a chance.
Abrar Jan 13, 2013 08:06am
u will never find a siingle violent protest in the whole history of shia from karbala till today
Abuzar Jan 11, 2013 02:05pm
should i like you comment ot not, i dont know, no words nothing can minimize my pain.but, With all my heart i am sorry. i truly am.
Sridhar Jan 11, 2013 04:19pm
Wake up, Pakistan! Does the Land of the Pure mean ethnic cleansing?? Remember the outrage when the Serbians attacked the Bosnian Muslims? Remember the Crusades? Where is the moral outrage as fundamentalists attack Shias, Ahmediyas and anyone who does not subscribe to their own narrow, self-serving interpretation of Quran? With 'friends' like these, who needs external enemies?
Maia Jan 11, 2013 05:07pm
We spent most of the reformation-C18 period slaughtering each other in the name of religion - the hundred years' war actually lasted a good deal longer, for instance - and the current state of peace in europe is mainly due to the mechanisms set in place after we dragged the whole world into war with us TWICE.
Rao Jan 11, 2013 05:17pm
Shias are majority in Gilgit Baltistan...In 1947 Gilgit scouts revolted against Maharaja of Kashmir and joined with Pakistan Army to become part of Pakistan. Now they are paying the price for reposing their faith with Pakistan
Shahryar Shirazi Jan 13, 2013 07:22am
I am ashamed and want to apologize to you. I feel ashamed of being a Pakistani today. Our fellow Pakistanis, Shia's and Ahmedi Muslims are being slaughtered. Its high time we take a lesson from the people of Delhi and get out on the streets to support the minorities ....
mazharuddin Jan 13, 2013 09:22am
There is the need to condemn such activities that disturb citizens live by extreme religious activities as it caused emerging such organizations. It seem writers and those submit views are unaware the root causes or intentionally overlooking the facts. Such ignorance is common in people and that is why the country is facing.
Zafar Jan 13, 2013 07:04am
you forgot one thing, may God curse the ruling elite.
Adam Jan 11, 2013 03:09pm
What an ignorant question! The implication in your question is that somehow only muslims commit such crimes. Every religion,society, race, creed etc is guilty of such crimes if not in the present then in the recent past. Murder, gangrape, terrorism, torture these are the evil side of the human condition..being a muslim has nothing to do with it. When you find a country or race free of such sins then I will answer you question!
FAB Jan 11, 2013 01:34pm
We all can feel the pain. My appeal to our leaders and army please take some measures before it became too late.
Nahraf Jan 11, 2013 01:14pm
Please wake up and join each others hands share sorrows and happiness , as we all are brothers to each other (Ko no Ibad Allah he Ikhwana)...clean the element of hatred and religious extremism. Don't try to prove other sect as Ka'fir, would gain nothing. Oh the people of Pakistan !!!!! please True Love for Pakistan (Itehad Bein Al Muslimeen Zindabad)
Logical thinker Jan 11, 2013 04:23pm
Where are our agencies? This carnage is going on for years and so far no one has been arrested?? As a nation we should be ashamed of ourselves.
Shobhna Jan 11, 2013 01:47pm
God give strength to the families who have lost their loved ones... and sense to those savages who are responsible for this.
Steve I Jan 11, 2013 04:12pm
Mr. Naraf, Even in your grief, you show your bigotry. That is the root of all evil. You imply that treating other 'sects' of islam as Kafir is bad. But is it OK to treat other religions differently? So, by your logic, the only thing these guys did wrong is that tehy killed muslims? Is killing non muslims OK? Unless you fix your theology, your religion will continue to face carnage. YOu cannot draw a line around hatred. Once you surrender to hate, it takes over you. Change attitudes in muslim countries from hatred to peace. For once practice the meaning of Islam - Peace.
Shahryar Shirazi Jan 13, 2013 07:26am
Sir, you are right, unfortunately.... We in Pakistan should take a lesson from recent protests in Delhi and stand up for the weak.
Zafar Jan 13, 2013 07:09am
You are wrong Kiani, you people are doing this all in the name of islam. You think anyone who does not agree with your brand of islam is a Kafir.
ali Jan 11, 2013 12:46pm
I am a hazara and i have no comment, it is just the end for me.
John Jan 11, 2013 12:47pm
Wake up Pakistanis
I. Khan Portland Oregon, USA Jan 11, 2013 07:46pm
I remember those days, not long ago, when all the ethnic and religious groups were living together in peace and harmony. What happened to my beautiful City of Quetta? Where is it's tranquility and peace? Gone are the days when tourist were flocking from all over the world to see this beautiful city. Who is responsible for destroying every thing ? Why is no one accepting responsibility for it's failures to protect the minorities? Even the armed forces of Pakistan have failed in protecting it's population. Where is the conscious of these peoples, who are leading the country ? This carnage of innocent people in the name of Islam is deplorable. Not a single true Muslim from any sect will condone such barbaric acts. Our armed forces #1 priority should be protecting it's citizens from these barbaric groups, rather than engaging in border conflicts with India. Please wake up and take control of the country ... before the entire nation is run by these ruthless thugs, and soon the defense budget will be approved by them.
Cursed Pakistani Jan 11, 2013 08:09pm
We all are, except the Leaders who need to wake up or sleep for good.
SBB Jan 11, 2013 08:30pm
Adam - when was the last time you heard about Hindus killing each other in their temples? Or Christians killing each other in their Churches? Step 1 in your situation is to accept that something is wrong. Step 2 is to actually fix what is not right.
ahsan Jan 11, 2013 10:07pm
In Saudi Arabia, when a person has been killed or caused to die by another, the prescribed blood money rates are as follows: 300,000 riyals if the victim is a Muslim man 150,000 riyals if a Muslim woman 150,000 riyals if a Christian or Jewish man 75,000 riyals if a Christian or Jewish woman 6,666 riyals if a man of any other religion 3,333 riyals if a woman of any other religion It will take almost a thousand shia slaughters to have the same effect as of a "Muslim"
SBB Jan 11, 2013 10:30pm
Heartbreaking man... I can't believe what's happening with the Hazaras. Love your writing.
Allaisa Jan 11, 2013 11:01pm
If a Muslim is hanged in India the whole country of Pakistan goes into fits of rage, no matter that Muslim was responsible for a carnage of innocent people. But I do not see the same rage in Pakistan when over a hundred of their fellow countrymen are killed by a terrorist bomb. Why is this?
AHA Jan 11, 2013 11:35pm
A religion is what a religion does. You just cannot deny the fact that violence is being preached as religion in Pakistan.
AHA Jan 11, 2013 11:37pm
Yes every one has committed such crimes. But Muslims are committing these crimes because of, and in the name of, their religion.
AHA Jan 11, 2013 11:39pm
That was some centuries ago, if I can recall correctly. The world wars in the 20th century had nothing to do with religion.
Cyrus Howell Jan 11, 2013 11:48pm
Pakistan has no shame.
ali Jan 12, 2013 12:09am
I feel sorry for you my friend, thats all I can say
karim Jan 12, 2013 12:10am
shameless Pakistani govt, army and people. They are mere bystanders to this wholesale slaughter of Hazaras.
Zahid Jan 12, 2013 12:33am
Well Zarar,I have a few friends who sound like you.There is always an excuse.Its a foreign hand or money from outside and now as per you the perpretators are all insane. Wahhabis and Salafists openly attack Shias and other minorities as infidels justifying their murders. Should we put all these people in mental asylums?
Cyrus Howell Jan 12, 2013 02:04am
"God give strength to the families who have lost their loved ones" It isn't enough.
Cyrus Howell Jan 12, 2013 02:06am
"Please wake up and join each others hands share sorrows and happiness" You must be kidding.
Cyrus Howell Jan 12, 2013 02:08am
"I am a hazara and i have no comment, it is just the end for me." Time to fight for your life.
skchadha Jan 12, 2013 02:21am
Any protest by Young Indians, for inactions on such instances, will be considered as action to destabilize neighbouring nation. I don't know where the Young Pakistan is hiding?
Cyrus Howell Jan 12, 2013 02:24am
My appeal to our leaders and army please take some measures before it became too late. Why should they help?
Cyrus Howell Jan 12, 2013 02:41am
The leaders of Pakistan want what is under the ground the Hazaras are living on. Why would they help them?
Koi-Kon Jan 12, 2013 02:53am
its a reference to aushcwitz, Jews genocide....
KKRoberts Jan 12, 2013 03:43am
People of pakistan, help those in distress irrespective of your religion and cast.It is time for action.Do it now.You can do analysis later at your convenience.Where is bold , courageous and intelligent pakistanis?Act now.
APC Jan 12, 2013 04:25am
The 'ignorance' is the ignorance in understanding the statement and its direction man.
APC Jan 12, 2013 04:28am
Great thinking. And similar thinking made your country to this pathetic state. Blame it on others.
Anees Jan 12, 2013 05:57am
Let's face reality my fellow Hazaras - nobody cares about us in Pakistan. I'm ashamed to be Pakistani. I wish I was born anywhere other than this godforsaken country.
punter Jan 12, 2013 06:22am
Very admirable thoughts my friend! Thank you!
stuti Jan 12, 2013 06:42am
I have just not understood the oft repeated phrase 'they can't be muslims', Muslims have killed muslims in Libya, Yemen, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan etc etc. So they are not muslims? Dear muslims you are living in delusion.
Salman Jan 12, 2013 07:19am
Denial denial! again again!
ranganath Jan 12, 2013 07:31am
I beg your pardon sir, What do you mean by "even hindus are fine"?
Qaiser Khan Jan 12, 2013 08:03am
Thank you Sir for your good wishes.
Hlaku IlHazred Jan 12, 2013 08:48am
Ever heard of Protestants vs. Catholics? Caste conflicts between Hindus? Think they never touched their places of worship? Think again, search again and get your facts straight before spreading lies and bigotry against Islam. I am saddened by these terrorist incidents in the name of Islam. The perpetrators are hardened criminals and non-believers. Their livelihood comes from foreign aid, smuggling and extortion. They call themselves Muslim but they don
AM Jan 12, 2013 09:22am
I am an Ahmedi and I am still living in this country. After decades of persecution and a constant fear of life, honor and property, I am hoping with perseverance that the people of this country will quit "holier than thou" attitude some day. Please don't give up!
Eefa Khalid Jan 12, 2013 09:37am
The situation of our country is so heartbreaking as well as you words. May God give us strength and we see our brothers and sisters happy again. God bless Hazara, God bless Pakistan
vijaimurugan Jan 12, 2013 11:28am
Ohohoho. Again in denial. Pl. read history properly and you will find that Muslims have killed more than 20 million hindus during their 700 years of rule. Since there are no hindus left inthe land of the pure, they are killing each other. C'mon man wake up and smell the coffee.
noor Jan 12, 2013 12:27pm
My heart goes out to the Hazaras... I salute your courage and your way of protest, first time in the history of Pakistan i am seeing a non-voiilent protest. The time has come that all Pakistanis irrespective of their sect come out to protest in support of this barbaric terrorism....
saylani Jan 13, 2013 12:13pm
we are the most unhuman nation on the face of earth. May God almighty pardon us .
M. Ali Jan 12, 2013 01:15pm
Please stop saying Hazara Killing. It is actually Shia killing. I live on Alamdar Road and I am a Shia, but not Hazara. I have lost many relatives and friends in these blasts who were not Hazara, but shia of other casts. Hazaras are killed only because they are Shia. In other words, Hazaras would have been very safe if they were not Shia.
mike Jan 12, 2013 01:31pm
Well is the army going to patrol and keep our borders safe or are they going to interfere in the domestic problems, this is a job for the police.
M. Ali Jan 12, 2013 01:50pm
I Love your comments, Steve.
Saeed Jan 12, 2013 02:47pm
majority of Pakistanis are 'happy' that Shias are there is no or very little outrage. this is the country that was supposedly built for all...We have the blasphemy law but no law at all for killing other human being... this the beginning of an end of a country called Pakistan.
does not matter Jan 12, 2013 03:00pm
Could you please any other country other than Pakistan where Muslims are killing muslims in the name of Islam to prove how good Muslims they are?
babu Jan 12, 2013 03:01pm
grow up zarar,......non muslims creating wedges and dividing muslims into sects ???
Haroon Naseem Jan 12, 2013 03:48pm
Quetta Blasts - That was a barbaric and most tragic incident in recent history. Where are our intelligence agencies, security forces and law enforcement agencies on which we are spending more than half of our budget every year. They can't protect their countrymen from within how they will protect from some outside threat. They can just make some stunt movies, dramas & stories to impress our innocent people and we think they are ready to protect us from any enemy of the world. We are being fools in the hands of our Politicians, Establishment & Media. May Allah protect this nation.
Azka Jan 12, 2013 05:05pm
Cannot stop my tears. :'(
Tauqir Jan 13, 2013 05:45am
It will be educational to see what the government does about Lashkar-e-Jhangavi.
Oz Jan 12, 2013 10:13pm
You are either not hazara or you are coward. One day of Lion's life is better than 100 years of a Jackals life! Let those the terrorist emigrate to hell as thats where they belong. You are the son of Hazara, the bold and brave. Defend your land and your religion. May Allah be with you.
Oz Jan 12, 2013 10:17pm
They were arrested, many of them including their head Malik Ishaq. However, the supreme court released them without charges.
does not matter Jan 13, 2013 06:13am
"Should I be ashamed to be a Hazara shia or should I be ashamed of having born in this country?"
Iqbal Z Khan Jan 13, 2013 05:21am
We need to bring our house in order very quickly. Someone has pushed a self destruction button......