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Parachinar bleeds, but who cares?

July 28, 2013
The injured in Parachinar are haunted by the nightmarish moments while the media is asking stereotyped questions. -Photo by AFP
The injured in Parachinar are haunted by the nightmarish moments while the media is asking stereotyped questions. -Photo by AFP

PESHAWAR: Bomb blasts devastating towns and shattering lives seem to have lost impact except to arouse condemnation from the authorities as they are forgotten sooner than any worthwhile action is initiated either to mitigate the public suffering or eliminate its sources and causes.

The people injured in the Parachinar bomb blasts, who are facing life-threatening medical condition in the hospitals, are haunted by the nightmarish moments they went through when twin blasts hit Parachinar on Friday.

The witnesses have the same narrative. The media has been asking the same stereotyped questions.

“I was shopping for Iftari or sitting with my friends in the bazaar when loud explosions occurred” is the plain reply from the victims.

Death toll from the twin blasts has reached 57, while some 190 people suffered serious and minor injuries. The administration declared 45 people dead on the spot, while others expired in the late hours. Soon after the explosions, 26 injured people were brought to Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.

Both blasts occurred in rapid succession. The first explosion took place near Jamia Majid at the entry of the famous Punjabi Bazaar and the second on School Road.

For masterminds, the timing of detonating explosives was perfect because there was hustle bustle in bazaar. The people were buying edible items before Iftari.

Parachinar, the administrative headquarters of Kurram Agency near Afghan border, is not a big metropolis. It’s like a small garrison town developed by the British Army in the foothill of mighty Spin Ghar (White Mountain) in mid-1895. The town total population is about 40,000 comprising people of different tribes, races and faiths.

Suicide and bomb blasts have been occurring with intervals in Kurram Valley in general and Parachinar in particular since the administration have restored order in 2011 after the worst clashes and blockade of the area.

Before the general elections, a rally of Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl was targeted with improvised explosive device in Parachamkani area east of Parachinar on May 7, leaving 24 people dead and 70 injured. That explosion resulted in a military operation for which over 10,000 families were ordered to vacate the area.

A car bomb hit a busy market in September 2012 which left 14 people dead and around 70 had suffered injuries. Explosion of IEDs, landmines and other low scale blast in the area is a routine phenomenon.

After opening of the Thall-Parachinar Road, security forces have set up a number of checkposts and checkpoints around the town and all entry and exit points have been sealed. There is big layer of security around Parachinar.

Army troops, personnel of the Frontier Corps and Levies Force have been deployed for checking of all vehicle and pedestrians. Three main arteries of the Parachinar town pass through the cantonment, while security forces have heavy presence on the other three main roads from the south and east. Virtually, the town has been sealed.

Unlike Karachi, Peshawar, Quetta or any other big city, Parachinar is a small town, which does not need elaborate security system and resources. The downtown has few small shopping streets surrounded by residential quarters. Despite that, the town has become a soft target for terrorists and powerful blast occurs regularly.

Like other tribal areas, Parachinar is also a neglected town, which is very far away from the people sitting in the power corridors in Islamabad and Peshawar. The president, prime minister, interior minister, governors, chief ministers, ministers and parliamentarians rush to affected areas and visit hospitals to express solidarity with the injured and the dead people’s families. However, tribal people are treated as second-class citizens.

Engineer Shaukatullah, who is the agent to the president of Pakistan for Fata and an inhabitant of Bajaur Agency, did not bother to come out of the Governor’s House and inquire after victims of the twine blasts in Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar. Even, the Civil Secretariat, Fata could not issue a press note about the incident.