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October 19, 2010

Karsaz blast survivor hurt by PPP’s ‘broken promises’


October 19, 2010

A few minutes after midnight on October 18, 2007, Mohammed Sameer Baloch woke up with a heavy head and excruciating pain in his back. He looked around, dazed. Just moments ago, the 25-year-old had been sitting on the roof of a bus which was travelling beside the truck on which Benazir Bhutto was standing with Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) workers and supporters.
Between then and the time Baloch regained consciousness, the procession had been rocked by a blast which had flung the young man off his perch on the bus. “I could not understand anything at that point of time. Lying there, I checked my back and there was blood. The front of my shirt was also soaked with blood,” he says.
Baloch, a soft-spoken man, now works as a tailor near Aath Chowk in Lyari. He spoke to The News about the celebrations and the overall atmosphere of that day, which, he says, felt like Eid. Soon, though, he jumped to the part where the blast occurred and how, just seconds before the second blast, an old man covered him because he did not have the strength to stand and run towards safety. “Wherever I looked, all I saw were people crying or running with their limbs hanging loosely,” Baloch recalls.
He says that he owes his life to the doctors who treated him, as well as the PPP workers who took care of the treatment and recovery costs. Among the first people to be taken to the Liaquat National Hospital, Baloch survived his ordeal with 30 stitches on his back. But he remembers the voices of those crying in pain, as well as the severed, bloodied body parts that he saw scattered on the ground around him that night. “It will take a lot of time to forget all that but the incident has changed me for sure,” he said, adding however, that all of this paled in comparison to the fact that Benazir Bhutto was assassinated only two months later.
While the PPP eventually won the 2008 general elections, many in Lyari, from where the PPP gets a vast chunk of its votes and

support in Karachi, feel that the promises made to them are yet to be fulfilled. They add that this is not merely the story of the past three years – ‘we have been aggrieved for 10 years now.’
Baloch explains, though, that he is not angry at anyone. He says that he is primarily happy to be alive. “As for the problems, we need someone to offer solutions rather than just pointing out issues,” he says. But issues there are many, including economic ones.
Baloch says that there was a time when he used to get orders for five to either dresses at a time, which used to keep them working all night long. Now, they hardly get orders for one or two dresses per day, reducing the workers’ earnings to a mere pittance compared to what they used to get. Baloch, however, is surprisingly calm about the lack of funds. “There are times when I feel a bit despondent, but then I think that it could have been worse for me and my family.”
Rather than grieving over their myriad problems, they have “started making jokes out of them,” the owner of the tailoring shop explains. “We do not want any earth-shattering development. All we ask for is safety in our homes and the feeling that if things go wrong, someone out there is listening to us.”

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