Here we go again!

It has become quite a norm; the abnormality of the security situation in my troubled city called Mardan. Most of my fortnightly visits there have become nightmarish of late. In one of my recent ilogs here, I wrote in detail about a blast at a refreshment center in the cantonment area which took lives of a dozen of people including one of my very good friend. I was there to witness the scenes of horror and tragedy that befallen the innocent people of Mardan.

Hardly a month of comparative calm, and there we go again. Last night, at around 9 O’clock, I along with a friend was strolling past the ‘Taj Cinema’ around the busy ‘Pakistan Chowk’ area when a thunderous blast almost shook us off balance. A bomb went off inside the cinema hall and all in a sudden a giant smoke cloud engulfed the entire building. I could hear the wailing of injured from inside the hall. Hearing the thunder, people ran in all directions with mostly heading towards the place of the incident. I too wanted to go inside to try and help the injured but I had to obey my mother when she called me to reach home immediately. Within minutes Edhi ambulances along with the police vehicles reached the location to carryout the needful. Thankfully it didn’t take many human lives; 1 person is killed along with a few injured.

The incident is being termed an extension of the activities of a local religious outfit with connection to the Pakistan Tehrik-e-Taliban. In the recent past, they have blown a few Video Cassette Shops along with a Cable Operator’s office and some Internet Clubs, warning them of refraining from spreading ‘vulgarity’. The outfit holds a strict view of imposing Islamic concepts through force which a common Mardanian doesn’t agree with. News are also emanating about the mixing of criminals with the outfit to get a possible shelter and promote their heinous activities in the facade of religion. However the blast is unique in a context that most of the previous incidents save the second last one, took place either very early in the morning in the off business hours with least human activity, or were directly targeted towards the security personnel, be that Army or Police so the timing and target of the latest is obviously people oriented. The situation is even more tricky as the Provincial government have struck a peace deal with the millitants which is showing encouraging results in the Swat valley but the Federal government doesn’t seem to be satisfied with it courtesy the American pressure which wants wiping out militancy by forceful measures. A few Provincial Government officials have termed such sporadic violent acts as conspiracies from outsiders to destabilize the region along with the Provincial Government led by ANP.

Blast in Mardan

Yet another bomb exploded yesterday in an otherwise watertight secured cantonment area of Mardan. Shaheen Backery adjacent to the boundary wall of the Punjab Regiment Army Recruitement and Training Center was the unfortunate location this time around. 13 persons including security guards, customers and workers of the backery were reported to be killed in the blast along with several inujured.
It is perhapes the fourth or fifth bomb blast of late in or around the same area of the city wihch ironically is heavily guarded by the armed personnel of Pakistan Army most of the time. The explosion has been termed as ‘a suicide blast’ by the millitary authorities but which the citizens aren’t sure about.
I wasn’t away from the site of the blast as I was rambling with a friend when we were jolted by the thunderous explosion. I could see the fear and uncertainity over the faces of the innocent citizens who couldn’t believe that their erstwhile peaceful city would fall prey to a handful of miscreants and more importantly to the evil conspiracies of their very own establishment.
According to a general consensus, it might be engineered by the establishment courtesy the fact that Mardan cantonment authorities were about to lose a case in the Supreme Court regarding the cutting off of a link road which actually passes through two entities of the contonment, connecting two parts of the city. Incidents of simillar nature happened on the last two occasions whenever the road was about to be opened following the verdicts of the city and Peshawar High Courts in favor of people of the locality. The road was permanently blocked by the army citing security reasons following a suicid blast last year in Dargai where a suicide bomber entered into the Army Cantonment and claimed the lives of dozens of young recruites. The stoppage proved hazardous for the commuters who would reach the city center taking alternative routes which of course were much more time consuming for a distace of about 2 kilometers.
According the news reports, some Tehrik-e-Taliban, Darra Adam Khel has taken the responsibility of the blast, which in itself is an ambiguity if one takes into consideration the ongoing peace process initiated by the government of NWFP.
Whoever the perpetrators might be, it is an act extremely shameful which should be condemened by all.
I’ve just come to know that I’ve lost one of my dear school fellow in the incident as well. Alas! what lovely fellow this ocean eyed chap was! Iftikhar was one of the nicest of my class fellows who I can vividly remember would sing “pyari ma’an mujhko teri dua chahiye … jab shahadat milay mujhko kashmir may aur kya chahiye”
His childhood dream to be a shaheed is fulfilled, but the way it has happened, tears my heart.

May his sould rest in peace!