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Wednesday, May 13, 2015

43 killed in attack on bus carrying Ismailis in Karachi

A couple of days ago, Karachi witnessed an unprecedented act of barbarism when a bus full of Ismailis – one of the most peaceful community in Pakistan – was targeted and shot at, resulting in the deaths of 45 people, with numerous injured. My heart goes out to the victims and their families in their difficult time. As soon as the attack took place, commiserations, condolences and compensations began to pour in from all over the country. However, I feel that it is useless now to even listen to what our leaders have to say, since they repeat the same message that they had rehearsed in a previous attack. Their words are virtually the same – baseless, unsubstantial. Perhaps the only exception to this is the chief of army staff, General Raheel Sharif, who is seen giving due diligence to the incident by postponing his visit to Sri Lanka and flying to Karachi. Perhaps he knows that our shameless political leadership is nothing but a bunch of impotent and incompetent candidates elected only to overburden the exchequer. Following the headlines, news and an amateurish analysis with my friend, I am left mulling over the following questions: 1. What is the role of our media? Is it just to break exclusive news stories? The reporting by our media personnel was pathetic, uncouth and bordered on creating hysteria amongst the masses. Do they have no other purpose except to increase their channel’s ratings? Why do they need to play such tragic music in the background and show footages in slow motion? Do they find pride in trying to make a mockery out of genuine human emotions? Do our media houses have no shame? Have you ever seen such a display on BBC or CNN? In an ideal Pakistan, this would not happen. News anchors would be more sensitive towards people’s emotions and news would be just that, news, not a sequel from a Bollywood blockbuster. While this has been said a million times, I feel someone has to remind this again to the media powers that: train your journalists. Make them understand that everything is not about breaking the news the fastest. Make them learn that before they go on their news coverage spree, they should understand that they are humans first and as such they need to treat the loss of others in the same way as any human would – with empathy. 2. What is the role of our police department? Is it just to suspend/transfer SHOs and/or DSPs whenever something this happens? Does it help in making the police department better in any way? I feel that instead of suspending them for some face-saving, they should first be probed into by their higher-ups. And it is only after preliminary enquiry that such a suspension be issued so as to not make a mockery of the role of this department. Presently, it appears as if suspension only saves them. We have countless examples from the past of good-for-nothing suspensions. In an ideal Pakistan, the police system would not only be efficient in protecting its citizen, it would also be able to initiate a comprehensive inquiry. 3. Why wasn’t helped called for immediately? The whole incident must have taken at least three to five minutes; you do not have to be an FBI agent to figure out that this is enough time for someone to call for help. I assume there would have been someone from the LEAs nearby the place of incident who could have apprised/alerted the department using a phone or a cordless. Although, I did not expect the police to reach the spot on time or precisely understand the whereabouts of where the carnage was being carried out but it was surely within the capabilities of the police to have taken steps that could have at least made it far more difficult for the perpetrators to flee from the scene. Did no near-by police station hear the gunshots? Can’t you tell the direction if you hear multiple gunshots being fired? I think anyone can. And when it comes to security providers, they are professionals, so it should be even easier for them. If you think it is useless, please be noted, a panicked criminal is more likely to leave substantial evidence/clues than the one who manages to escape without any hurdles. I would be utterly shocked if I get to learn that not even a single police mobile was patrolling in that area at the time. There has to be one as the road directly links to the main highway. Should I consider this a gross failure in deployment of our security forces at such a crucial point? From my personal observation, I can tell you that a police mobile can be seen on snap checking underneath the bridge passing through the main highway. So why was nothing done? 4. Why are we not investing in hi-tech technology? Or at least making it mandatory for private vehicles to have cameras and tracking devices fitted in? Imagine how easy it would be to identify criminals and even in some cases be able to tell the possible routes taken to escape the scene. There are companies which are now providing video recording cameras which can be used to see the routes taken by criminals in an event that they manage to run away. So even if the CCTV cameras are not working or present, there is still a very good chance for security official to track down the criminals. The only thing our government needs to do is make this mandatory for bus owners – especially for public buses. 5. Have we learnt nothing from the attacks on APS, GHQ, Quetta Faisal Base and the likes? Why are our intelligence agencies unable to ward off terrorist activities when all we hear is a post-incident statement claiming that they knew it was going to happen? In an ideal Pakistan, this would not be a valid excuse. 6. Lastly, what criteria is there to qualify for the post of an interior minister, or a chief minister? Also, in case if they fail to do their jobs and do not resign voluntarily, why aren’t they forced to do so? Why not terminate incompetent ministers? In case there is no provision in our constitution to terminate a minister for failing to perform his duties, there is always an option available to furnish a bill in the parliament to legislate the same. This is a need of the hour. Pakistan doesn’t have to be ideal to undertake at least this. Accountability is of key importance for any nation to survive. If laymen like myself and my friend could come up with these questions – and their perspective solutions as well – then why the same can’t be done by our think-tanks? Or are they too incompetent to do even that? We demand justice and immediate apprehension of the perpetrators. May the killers rot in hell and peace prevail. Too much blood has been spilled. This needs to end now ".......................... KARACHI: Al-Azhar Garden and surrounding residential buildings in Safoora Goth give a serene view. Almost all the residents there hail from the Ismaili community and to facilitate their travel within the city there are various shuttle services. On Wednesday morning, one such shuttle bus of Al-Azhar Garden, carrying around 60 passengers, was attacked soon after it left the residential area when six armed assailants stopped it, got on it and opened fire killing the driver and dozens of others, while leaving many wounded. “We were the first ones to reach the scene. We got there in less than five minutes. What we saw there cannot be described easily in words. Had we not heard the cries of pain, we would have thought that everyone was dead. We found Sultan, the bus conductor, too, hiding and playing dead under a seat. Realising that the killers had left he came out and we helped him remove the lifeless form of the driver from his seat as he got into his place and drove full speed into the nearest hospital,” said Nasruddin, a resident of the area. Take a look: 43 killed in attack on bus carrying Ismailis in Karachi One of the victims was also named Sultan. Full name: Sultan Nur Mohammad. “He was my uncle,” said Salman Abdul, another area resident who was also one of the young men who reached the bus before everyone else to help. “My cousin, Shameer, needed his CNIC made and was about to board the shuttle to get dropped near the Nadra office when his father got his documents to go there instead of him citing that being a senior citizen would help him in hurrying up the process. The gunmen’s bullets killed him instantly,” the nephew said. The pink and brown Al-Azhar Garden bus parked at the Memon Memorial Institute Hospital was the centre of everyone’s attention. There was blood on its doors and only a couple of bullet holes where they fired to make the driver stop before getting on it themselves. Inside the hospital, the main hall was crowded with Ismaili community members trying to find out the names of the deceased and the wounded. The hospital authorities hadn’t put up any lists with their names. “They will be doing that as soon as the police are done with their initial report,” said a hospital employee. There was maximum security with police and Rangers personnel posted everywhere. Asked if he had located his relatives in the hospital, Zahid Hashim, one gentleman there, said he didn’t have any immediate family member there. “But we Ismailis are also one community so it is like our family was attacked,” he said. “We came here to offer our help as soon as we heard,” he added. Most of the victims who couldn’t be moved easily were kept at the Memon Memorial Institute Hospital, while the Aga Khan University Hospital initially received six wounded of whom five were female and one male. When approached for a few comments as to what happened, the mother of a wounded lady broke into sobs. “We have never even harboured ill feelings for anyone. Why would anyone do this to us?” she cried. “It was so easy for them to have killed so many members of the Ismaili community as a shuttle service leaving an Ismaili community apartment building only had to have Ismaili people on board,” said a bystander at the hospital as he regrettably shook his head thinking about the grave incident. Published in Dawn, May 14th, 2015 On a mobile phone? Get the Dawn Mobile App: Apple Store | Google Play Macabre violence: Ugly face of terror By Agencies / Faraz KhanPublished: May 14, 2015 75 SHARES SHARE TWEET EMAIL Gunmen kill 44 members of the Ismaili community travelling on a bus. PHOTO: AFP Gunmen kill 44 members of the Ismaili community travelling on a bus. PHOTO: AFP KARACHI: They took a pink colour bus daily to ferry them from alAzhar Gardens, a residential society of the peaceful Ismaili community in the Sachal neighbourhood of the metropolis, to their workplaces or markets – and back home. For the community members, this daily commute has been a routine for nearly a decade. Little did they know that Wednesday’s commute would be one-way for most of them. Fifty-one commuters — men, women and children — boarded the pink bus past 9am. And 10 minutes later, 43 of them lay dead in a pool of blood, their bus riddled with bullets and seats drenched in blood which dripped out of the doors on to the asphalted road. Four gunmen, disguised as law enforcers, flagged down the bus at an unfrequented stretch of University Road Link. “Three gunmen climbed on to the bus and two of them opened fire after the third shouted, ‘Kill everyone’,” a wounded woman told The Express Tribune from her bed at the Memon Hospital. “The killing spree continued for over four minutes.” The police said the attackers were well-trained. They ordered the commuters to bow their heads before shooting them one by one — mostly in the head. “They were so trained that hardly any bullet misfired and not a single window of the bus was hit. They shot the commuters at point-blank range,” said DSP Qamar Ahmed, who was later suspended for negligence. “According to the initial information which we have received from hospitals, 43 people have been killed and 13 wounded,” IGP Sindh Ghulam Haider Jamali told reporters at the crime scene. One of the injured later died at a hospital. “The terrorists came on three motorcycles, they entered the bus and began firing indiscriminately,” he added. Eyewitnesses said the attackers shouted slogans be­fore fleeing the scene unchallenged and unidentified. “After the grisly killings, they fired gunshots into the air and shouted ‘Allah-o-Akbar’ before driving off on motorcycles,” said Ayub, a labourer at a nearby under-construction building. “Minutes later, I saw a woman running as she bled.” Uzma Alkarim, a member of the Ismaili community, said the bus took commuters to work every day. The Ismailis had faced threats before, she said. “Around six months ago, our community elders had alerted us to be careful because of security threats but things had calmed down recently,” she said. University Road Link, which lies in a sparsely populated area, connects Safoora Chowrangi to Superhighway. It is a road less travelled as commuters prefer to avoid it for fear of getting mugged. The pink bus driver had special instructions not to slow down in the area under any circumstances. A chaos followed the macabre violence. First rescuers arrived, then the law enforcers and then politicians looking to score a photo-op session. It was pointless, however. The bus had already been driven to the nearby Memon Hospital, where crying relatives formed a human chain outside the main building to keep onlookers away. A sobbing middle-aged man said: “I have come to collect the body of my young son. He was a student preparing for his first year exams at college.” One female survivor who asked to remain anonymous described the attackers as being clean-shaven and dressed in Western attire, according to a male nurse who spoke to her. “One attacker mentioned there were two kids on board and the other told them to let them live,” she told the nurse. Some of the casualties were later shifted to the Aga Khan Hospital, where medics said they received 24 bodies and six injured. The hospital was heavily guarded by army and police officers. They cordoned off the wards where the injured were lodged and did not let anyone except families in. According to forensics experts, the attackers used multiple types of weapons. “Apparently, more than two weapons, including 9mm pistols and sub machineguns, were used but most of the empty bullet casings found at the site are of 9mm pistols,” forensics expert Tariq Jadoon told The Express Tribune. A three-room vacant house is located near the crime scene and the law enforcers found a uniform cap of a private security company. “Possibly the attackers stayed in the house before committing the mass murder,” said SHO Sohail Awan who was also suspended later. After the attack, the paramilitary Rangers conducted a search operation in Sohrab Goth and Safoora Goth areas and rounded up over a dozen suspects who were subsequently shifted to an undisclosed location for questioning. IGP Jamali convened an emergency meeting at his office to review the situation. Various possible angles of the incident were discussed and IGP Jamali directed that the intelligence apparatus be upgraded and raids conducted to arrest the culprits. He also ordered that security at all public places, including mosques, imambargahs, jamaatkhanas, shrines, shopping centres and bus terminals be enhanced. IGP Jamali constituted a high-powered committee to investigate the tragic incident. AIG Ghulam Qadir Thebo will head the committee that also comprises DIG Munir Shaikh, DIG Feroz Shah, DIG Arif Hanif, DIG Sultan Khawaja, SSP Pir Muhammad Shah and SSP Dr Najee. The ultra-extremist Middle Eastern terrorist group, the Islamic State, and its affiliate Jundullah claimed responsibility for the attack. However, officials believe it’s a deliberate attempt to sabotage the multibillion-dollar China-Pakistan Economic Corridor Project as it happened when the country’s top political leadership was in a session in the federal capital to iron out differences over the project. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said he was saddened by the attack. “This is a very patriotic and peaceful people who have always worked for the wellbeing of Pakistan,” he said. “This is an attempt to spread divisions in the country.” Published in The Express Tribune, May 14th, 2015. Like Us On Facebook Follow Us On Twitter Get News Every Evening RELATED STORIES 28 Apr 2015bullets-target-killing-murder-shot-killed-photo-mohammad-saqib-2-2-2-3-3-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-4-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-4-3-2-2-2-2-3-2-2-2-2-2-2-3-2-2-3-3-2-4-3-2-2-2-2-3-3-3-2-2-2-2-2-3-3-2-3-3-2-2-2-68Shia killing? Shopkeeper shot dead in Peshawar 20 Apr 2015news-in-brief-800x600-3356-2-2Clarification: Shia Ulema Council denies supporting MQM 22 Apr 2015gb-assembly-photo-file-2G-B Assembly elections: ‘Sectarian hatred being used against PML-N' by TaboolaSponsored LinksYou May Like These 31 Builders Made Mistakes That Will Leave You BAFFLED. Ridiculously Hilarious. ViralNova 9 Health Secrets of Matcha Powder That May Surprise You clickcamel.com Worst exercise for middle age (Ages you faster) MAX Workouts Fitness Guide 22 Hidden Secrets In Disney Movies You Won't Believe -- Just Wow [gallery] CheckThisYo 10 World's Most Peaceful Countries Womenosophy Unbelievable Transformations: Child Stars to Beautiful Adults StarFluff Reader Comments (1) ALL COMMENTSREADER'S RECOMMENDATIONS Timorlane 2 hours ago Reply It’s a sheer torture to see people in such grief. Imagine what the innocent victims and their relatives go through. There’s a nasty unholy nexus between corrupt politicians, police officers and terrorists operating hand in hand to aid each other in their respective field of operation in this Wadera Corruption Party sinned province and wadera occupied colony of Karachi. Unless the mega political criminal terrorist mafia bosses are arrested and punished to the utmost we’d God forbid have to suffer such torture. Recommend4 Leave Your Reply Below Name (required) Email Location Web Your comments may appear in The Express Tribune paper. For this reason we encourage you to provide your city. The Express Tribune does not bear any responsibility for user comments. Notify me of followup comments via e-mail Comments are moderated and generally will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive. For more information, please see our Comments FAQ. Notify me of new posts by email. 43 killed in attack on bus carrying Ismailis in Karachi AGENCIES | IMTIAZ ALI — UPDATED about 2 hours ago KARACHI: At least 43 people were killed and 13 others wounded on Wednesday when armed men opened fire inside a bus carrying members of the Ismaili community near Safoora Chowk in Karachi. Sindh Police Inspector General Ghulam Haider Jamali said that 60 people were on board the bus when six gunmen entered and executed 43 passengers. He added that the armed men used 9mm pistols in the massacre. The attackers managed to flee after the attack. Hospital sources have so far confirmed that the dead include 25 men and 16 women. Police officials said that there were no children among the casualties. All victims were shot from a close-range. Rana M Razzaq, a security coordinator at the Memon Medical Center, told Dawn that, "One young girl hid and survived. Three or four others who were brought to the hospital have survived...the rest are all dead." Jundullah claims attack Ahmed Marwat, a spokesman for Jundullah which is a splinter group of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), talking to Reuters claimed responsibility for the attack. The Al Qaeda affiliated group that started off from South Waziristan has targetted Shia minorities and foreign tourists in the past as well. In November last year, the group had pledged support to Islamic State (IS). A view of a pamphlet left by the attackers at the scene of attack. A view of a pamphlet left by the attackers at the scene of attack. In the past, the proscribed group has claimed several attacks including a blast near the Wagah border in November 2014 and the July 2013 attack on the compound of Pakistan's Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) in Sukkur. It has also claimed the several attacks on polio workers across the country. Attackers entered bus and fired A survivor of the attack recorded her statement before the police and said that the attackers entered the bus from the rear portion a few minutes after its departure. She added that the occupants of the bus thought that robbers had embarked on the vehicle. The assailants subdued the driver and separated (two) children from the others, the victims said and added that, “They told the passengers to keep their head low. One of the attackers situated in the rear side of the bus then ordered his associates to ‘shoot every one’ after which they indiscriminately targeted all passengers of the bus.” All attackers were speaking fluent Urdu according to the survivor. Secretary Al Azhar Garden said that the bus leaves daily at 9am and has been operating for the past 10 years. Today it was attacked around 9:30 am, he said. A rescue official quoted a victim as saying that the attackers were dressed in police uniforms. A rescue official displays casings collected from the scene of an attack on a bus, in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, May 13, 2015. — AP A rescue official displays casings collected from the scene of an attack on a bus, in Karachi, Pakistan, Wednesday, May 13, 2015. — AP Investigation Officer Tariq Jadoon told Dawn that some blue caps, which are used by security guards, have also been recovered from the crime scene along with 9mm casings. A plain-clothes police official holds up evidence collected from the scene of an attack by gunmen on a bus carrying Shias in Karachi on May 13, 2015.— AFP A plain-clothes police official holds up evidence collected from the scene of an attack by gunmen on a bus carrying Shias in Karachi on May 13, 2015.— AFP A senior police official, requesting anonymity as he was not authorised to talk to the media, told Dawn that the attackers entered the bus and shot the passengers in the head. “The gunmen stopped the bus and first fired at it from outside,” a policeman told AFP. “Then they entered inside the bus and open fire indiscriminately. After that they checked to see if anyone was left uninjured." “The bus had a capacity of 52 passengers but it was overloaded and dozens of people were boarding it. Most of them were from (the) Ismaili community,” he added. Ismaili community attacked: police Pakistan has seen a rising tide of sectarian violence in recent years, particularly against Shias — of which the Ismaili community is a sub-sect — who make up around 20 per cent of the country's predominantly Muslim population. “The dead and injured have been shifted to the private Memon Medical Center nearby,” an official of the Ismaili National Council, a group which represents the community said. The bus belongs to the Al-Azhar Garden Colony, which is an Ismaili community housing project in Karachi. It was on its regular route headed towards Federal B Area of Karachi. CM Sindh, CCPO take notice Sindh Chief Minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah strongly condemned the firing incident and condoled with the victims. He ordered immediate suspension of the area’s Station House Officer (SHO) and District Superintendent of Police (DSP). “The SHO, DSP have been suspended, we will find out whether the bus had security, whether they had asked for it or not,” the provincial chief minister said. “If there is a security lapse, it will be investigated.” He announced a compensation of Rs500,000 for the heirs of those killed in the massacre and a Rs200,000 compensation for those wounded in the attack. Shah also announced that the government will bear all expenses incurred for the treatment of the victims. Taking notice of the firing incident, Sindh IG Ghulam Haider Jamali directed Additional IG Ghulam Qadir Thebo to immediately submit a preliminary report in this regard, according to a press release. He also directed security forces to facilitate emergency rescue services in shifting of injured to hospitals for treatment. He ordered the early arrest of criminals involved. Sindh Inspector General Ghulam Haider Jamali speaking to media representatives after the deadly attack on a bus carrying Ismaili passengers. — DawnNews screengrab Sindh Inspector General Ghulam Haider Jamali speaking to media representatives after the deadly attack on a bus carrying Ismaili passengers. — DawnNews screengrab COAS cancels Sri Lanka visit Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif cancelled his visit to Sri Lanka and departed for Karachi following the attack on Ismaili community members in the city. In a tweet posted on Twitter, Director General (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Asim Bajwa said that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif on Wednesday cancelled his pre-scheduled three-day visit to Sri Lanka in light of the attack in Karachi. Army chief will be reviewing the security situation in Karachi after the terrorist attack on a bus carrying Ismailis, the ISPR said in another short statement. A military source told DawnNews that during his visit to Karachi, General Raheel Sharif will comprehensively review the entire security situation, and will also receive a briefing from Corps Commander Karachi Lt Gen Naveed Mukhtar and Director General (DG) Rangers Major General Bilal Akbar. The source added that important decisions are also expected as far as the security situation in Karachi is concerned. Condemnations pour in Condemnations poured in soon after today's deadly attack on the bus. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the incident. He sought a report into the incident and extended condolences over the loss of lives. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also strongly condemned the attack, according to a statement. Bilawal sympathised with the victims and urged for stern action against the terrorists. Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan also strongly condemned the attack and expressed grief over the murder of citizens. He added that this incident raises questions over the provincial government's performance pertaining to peace in the province. The government must provide complete medical facilities to the injured and take strict action against those responsible for this attack, he said. Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain expressed deep grief and sorrow over the attack. He said this attack is the worst form of terrorism and those behind the attack are savages. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also condemned the attack. Others also took to Twitter to express their grief and condemn the brutal attack. A community under threat The Ismailis in Pakistan are a peaceful, progressive and largely apolitical community predominantly working in the health and education sectors. Read: Pakistani Taliban threaten Kalash tribe, Ismailis in Chitral In the past there has been anti-Ismaili violence in Chitral and Gilgit-Baltistan, mostly in the form of communal flare-ups. In 2013, a bomb attack at Karachi's Aisha Manzil killed four and injured 42 others. The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan had claimed responsibility for the earlier attacks. Today’s massacre was the worst anti-Shia attack since January 30, when a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque in the southern Shikarpur district, killing 61. Anti-Shia attacks have been increasing in recent years in Karachi and also in Quetta, the northwestern area of Parachinar and the far northeastern town of Gilgit. Around 1,000 Shias have been killed in the past two years in Pakistan, with many of the attacks claimed by the hardline Sunni group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) who view them as heretics. Ismailis are known for their progressive Islamic views. Their spiritual leader Prince Karim Aga Khan is a globally renowned philanthropist and business magnate. — Mateen Haider contributed to the reporting of this story

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