Karachi, Aug 3: Tension grips the city today – the first of three days of mourning declared by the MQM – but some brave (and desperate) souls venture out.
A Walls ice-cream cycle vendor’s electronic bell (really annoying normally, but most welcome today) cuts through the humid air. I ask him where he’s coming from. Korangi, he says. Took a rickshaw. Buses weren’t running. 18 people died there yesterday. They (the miscreants) burnt the furniture market. But daily wagers like him have to risk going out. If they don’t earn, their families don’t eat.
Petrol pumps are closed. Our driver can’t make it because pumps in his area (Korangi) are closed and he has no gas in his motorbike. I have to attend a family wedding lunch. Pick up another guest. Drive to the other end of town. But it’s ok. Sparse traffic, lots of police vehicles, but calm.
Traffic picks up towards the evening as we head home. We notice a couple of overcrowded buses. As on any holiday, boys play cricket wherever they can – an open ground, a residential lane.
I head to office later – there’s a page to be made. Page designer Tanveer says he found a petrol pump open and was able to get gas to make it to work.
My colleague Muniba is thrilled to find an open khoka on main Drigh Road (now called Shahra-e-Faisal) where she could buy cigarettes. “There were about 20 people around that khoka,” she chuckles. “You know us cigarette addicts, we’ll do anything to get a ciggie.” Sadly, yes.
Geo News reports that 46 people have died since yesterday, over 123 injured. Several vehicles were torched, property destroyed. All leaders have “appealed for calm”. Tomorrow is another day.
p.s. Here’s the link to a radio interview I gave NPR’s The World (Boston) about this day (before I knew what the death toll was)