It has been ten years since over 60 innocent Pakistanis were massacred and several hundred injured on May 12, 2007, when Karachi’s International Airport was virtually under siege during the tenure of a uniformed President. I witnessed all this, having arrived in Karachi after operating a flight from Jeddah, PK 732, early in the morning before Fajr. These people were human beings, not sheep slaughtered as a sacrifice to appease the ego of few in this battle for turf. 

On 12 May 2007, Karachi Airport looked like a refugee camp with passengers sitting on the roadside, stranded with their baggage, because no transport was allowed to leave or enter the airport. From new terminal to Hotel Inn and what was formerly Hotel Midway, all you could see were passengers, children and elderly, sitting on roadside waiting for help, without any food or water, hoping against hope for help, which never came. Hotel Inn’s rooms and lobby were all in control of Altaf Hussain’s ethnic party activists while passengers suffered in hot, humid summer. The PIA official transport to drop us was not allowed to enter Shahrah-e-Faisal by gun totting activists carrying party flags and wearing party caps, while police and ASF helplessly looked on. Nobody was allowed to leave from 4 AM in the morning till 8 PM in the evening. Even cars carrying High Court judges and serving civil servants including members of uniformed services were not allowed to ply on the road from airport to the city and adjoining areas, other than cars belonging to an ethnic party. 

What perturbs me is the unimportance given to the lives of ordinary citizens in this country. Be it May 12 or Baldia Factory massacre, or killings in the most recent incident in Islamabad on 28 April 2017 where ordinary citizens died but it seems nobody is bothered. If terrorists involved in failed assassination attempt on Musharraf can be traced and hanged why not those involved in killings of common citizens. Are we to assume that with Quaid’s death, his vision of a modern democratic welfare state will be buried forever? 

MALIK TARIQ,  

Lahore, May 12.