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October 18, 2019

A journalist’s tale of misery that started with Mardan suicide attack


October 18, 2019

PESHAWAR: A journalist who had survived a suicide attack four years ago is still running from pillar to post to complete his remaining medical treatment and feed his four school-going children, ailing mother, wife and sister.

Hailing from Mayar village in Mardan district, 58-year old Yousaf Khan suffered severe injuries on April 19, 2016 when he tried to overpower a suicide bomber at the main entrance to the Excise and Taxation Department offices.

“The suicide bomber first fired at me, injuring my shoulder and neck, but I still tried to overpower him and shouted to people to go away but the bomber succeeded in pushing the button hidden under his right side belt,” he recalled.

Yousaf Khan was shifted first to the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar and later to Shifa International Hospital, Islamabad.

“My life has been very difficult after the suicide attack. I wish I had died on the spot. Though I am breathing, my left jaw, eye, ear, nose and half body are not functioning. The bullets and explosive powder are still in my body. The doctors had suggested treatment abroad but I have only received lip-service from government functionaries for the last four years,” he said.

Yousaf Khan, who still gets treatment from eight doctors including specialists of neurology, eye, ENT, medical, surgical specialists, orthopaedic and skin, said he had sold whatever he had.

He said he received Rs200,000 only from the government like others who had suffered minor injuries in the bomb blast. He recalled that former chief minister Pervez Khattak, provincial ministers Atif Khan and Shahram Khan Tarakai had repeatedly assured to assist him in his medical treatment but nothing practical was done for him.

Due to poverty, price hike, expensive medicines and treatment, Yousaf Khan said he sold his two-marla house and was confined along with his four children, wife, ailing mother and sister to a single room now.

He said he has decided to withdraw his one son and three daughters from private schools and make them sell chickpea and pakoras outside his house.

Yousaf Khan said he had to spend Rs60,000 to Rs70,000 monthly on his treatment and medicines. “I can neither afford treatment nor pay my children’s school fees,” he lamented.

“My 85-year old ailing mother and 45-year old mentally retarded sister are bed-ridden. My sister has blood sores on her back for being bed-ridden for long,” he said.

He added that he had to care for his wife, who suffers from brain tumour and receives medical treatment from a hospital in Karachi.

Yousaf Khan observed that when a person died in a bomb blast, the government compensated his heirs. He lamented that those getting paralysed after such attacks were ignored and left to live a miserable life.

“I have been maimed for life. The future of my children has been spoiled. Had I died in the bomb blast, at least my children would have received compensation,” he argued.

Yousaf Khan won elections for the Mardan Press Club several times and served as vice president, finance secretary and joint secretary.

He said that during the oath-taking ceremony of the Mardan Press Club every year, provincial minister Atif Khan announced a grant for the press club and him, but only the grant for the club was released.

“I don’t know how long I will face this miserable condition. I work on my laptop and send news stories to my organisation but sometimes I think about committing suicide. People say it is forbidden in Islam and only a coward kills himself but I think it could save someone from unbearable pains,” he added.