27 Oct 2012
Mohammed Shafiq was in a bad mood when he stopped his car in front of his 25 years old eatery in Central Market, one of the busiest in Karachi. He came to the city when he was barely 13 years old after running away from his home in Multan. He did various jobs for 11 years and somehow scraped up enough money to start his own shop in Central Market. Over the years he managed to establish a reputation of serving good food at affordable prices. Most of his customers were local shopkeepers and their employees who bought their breakfast and lunch from him daily.
His daily commute of 20 minutes to his shop today took him 3 hours due to almost curfew like security measures in place. Although Pakistanis were used to terrorist attacks and subsequent tightening up of the security that invariably followed such attacks, measures adopted today were extreme by even Paki standards. Every occupant of every vehicle was told to disembark and then body-searched in addition to metal-detector and dog sniffer checks This delay had cost him earnings he made every morning that amounted to almost half of his daily income everyday. He barked at Shahid, 18 years old helper who was dozing in front of the shop , to get the keys and open the shutters while he searched for a place to park his car. Delay of 3 hours meant that most of the already scarce parking spaces were already full and he had to park his car at a considerable distance from his usual place near the shop. Cursing everybody in general for his troubles he took out a cigarette and started walking towards his shop. His unpleasant mood was slightly softened at the sight of a few regulars starting to assemble in anticipation of an early lunch or a late breakfast.
Shafiq’s attention was diverted by sound of a pickup truck being rashly driven that passed him by with only inches to spare. He swore loudly cursing the driver and his relatives to hell and worse. His rant was suddenly interrupted by the sight of that truck suddenly changing it’s direction towards the small crowd in front of his shop. Before his horrified eyes the truck ran over 3 people and stopped after hitting the wall of his shop. He shouted at the people around for help and starting running towards the scene of accident. He was still 20 meters away when the truck exploded with a loud bang and caught fire. Shafiq along with many other people was thrown back many meters by the force of the blast wounded grievously. Fire from the truck soon reached the LPG cylinders in the eatery which exploded further spreading the fire. Eight fire brigade trucks took 4 hours to extinguish the blaze which turned more than half of the Karachi’s most crowded markets into ashes, killed 37 people and wounded many more.