Escaping Chaos – A Bride’s Account

I’m wondering how many weddings got postponed yesterday. The thought is natural since my own wedding was. I was almost done getting dolled up at a place near Khadda Market when news of BB’s assassination was seen on television. A few minutes after that calls started coming in reporting of rioting at Gizri, the shutters were pulled down almost immediately as Labels next to Cafe Coffee Day was smashed up.

Around this time, my car came to pick me up and was waiting outside when the rioters reached our lane and people started shouting that they were shooting with silencer fitted guns. Everyone waiting for the people inside the salon were quickly taken in and people were told that they could stay for as long as they wanted till they considered it safe to venture out. Most chose to risk it.

We waited till the lane was quiet again and the servants and guards of neighboring houses ventured out to take a look around. By this time we were waiting just inside the side door after deciding to head out to our nearest relatives place. Once we were told it was clear for the moment we got into cars and drove through the back lanes to defense phase 6 with our headlights off as a precaution, keeping an eye out for any signs of trouble. Worry and tension was thrice what we would probably have felt otherwise because I was all dressed up in my wedding dress and being wrapped up in a shawl isn’t exactly protection. Luckily we were accompanied by another car so that was some reassurance though on hindsight I don’t know how that would have helped had we gotten into trouble.

Along the way, we saw several cars on the roads with broken windshields and countless dent marks of stoning. Made it safely to the relatives place at around 8 where we started a frantic phone trace for every family member out. After countless tries, we got through to my father who told us that he had just turned back from PAF chapter as they were burning cars and buses up ahead and the police was forcing everyone to turn back which caused a jam. Eventually he made his way back to us.

Once together, tracing of other members of the family who had not been contacted as yet resumed including my mum who had gotten stuck at Tariq Road. The decision to postpone the wedding was taken soon as it became clear that they had somehow reached some relatives place in Gulshan after turning around or backing out from a few rioting hot beds.

We decided to wait till 4:30 – 5:00 before trying to head home since we had to head to Gulistan e Johar and reports out of there were not good. Got a few hours worth of sleep and then headed out at 5:00 taking Khayaban e Ittehad, crossing the Baloch colony bridge, Sharah e Faisal, turning at COD towards Johar mor and Johar chorangi, never slowing down below 80. Karachi looked like a ghost town complete with dysfunctional blinking signals and lights only at strategic junctions while every where else was pitch black. This was especially noticable at Johar mor and Johar chorangi where people were slowly venturing out on foot and waiting for some kind of transportation. There were families with toddlers waiting by the roadside at 5:30!

Along the way we saw broken glass and bricks and stones almost everywhere but the burning cars and buses that my father had seen just hours before had been cleared out. My mother who made it home at around 2:30 said she counted almost 50 burnt/burning cars and still saw hints of trouble along the way but by this time whatever cars were still out were keeping close to each other as far along as they shared similar routes and some even chose to wait a few minutes in hopes of another car coming along before venturing into a particularly dark road.

While all of my family made it safely home, we have heard of countless people that are still stuck in various places, wherever they found refuge and have yet to find their way home.

Karachi roared with deafening silence once the fires had died down in the early hours of morning. May we all stay safe.

40 Comments so far

  1. Balma (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 9:46 pm

    First, I always thought you were a guy!

    Second, this woman jaataay jaatay toomharay liyae samaaj kee deevar bun gayee (sorry, it is not a time to be funny, but…)

    Third, I gather you live in Gulistan-e-Jauhar. If so, please help me understand why you ended up at a foresaken place like Defence for leepaa poatee on your face? If you meant Khadda near Lee Market and Kharadar, then still I have the same question.
    Of couse, my appoliges if I misunderstood.

    Fourth, make sure the leepaa poatee stuff does not have too many chemicals in it…ain’t good for your skin. Also, all girls and sissy guys, don’t use mehndi cones. Very dangerous chemicals in them….go old fashioned way, mix mehndi power in water….are start with mehndi leaves…

  2. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 9:49 pm

    Allah keep you, Your Too Be and both the families safe, – :)

    Cancel all functions with invited crowd,

    invite inevitable near & dears get the rituals done, avoid the functions, glitter and exposed festivities for a while.

    Bless you

  3. d0ct0r (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 10:05 pm

    almost a dozen Wedding cancellation announcments were printed in today’s DAWN’s metropolitan

  4. ExPakistani (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 10:09 pm

    Please see my Ex Pakistani blog at

  5. Extiinct (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 10:13 pm

    Lol, thats perfectly okay balma. The situation is tragic but we have no choice. Its Allah’s will. The reason I chose Angie’s (defence) was that she was the only one I came across in my search for a make up place for my big day who knew how to set the hijab is such a way that my neck wouldnt show and not make it look weird. Plus she does amazing make up. I’m sure there are other places around too who could have set it properly but my comfort level with her was the greatest. I sound like a very finicky bride dont i? Lol.

    Thanks Jamal, thats what we plan on doing now as soon as it gets relatively safer.

  6. (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 10:13 pm
  7. IUnknown (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 10:25 pm

    i think we shud start keeping an “emergency alternative plan” for every event which is going to be held karachi. :)

  8. darthvader (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 10:42 pm

    well , considering EVERYTHING , i think you and your family came out okay . gotta feel sorry about your wedding plans ending up in tatters but hopefully they will go without a hitch the next time around .

    good luck

  9. daneeta loretta saft (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 11:07 pm

    God keep you all safe. You guys are doing a tremendous job reporting from the personal angle.


    From London Metbolg

  10. Ravi (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 11:07 pm

    I see other way. Your marriage is made into history, thanks to BB. I know it would be little discomfort for everybody, but I am sure you will have colorful & cheerful celebrations in the new year. Best wishes!!

  11. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 11:35 pm

    Not sure how true it is but heard some painful news from Johar and Gulshan that ladies were mistreated by mobs near baitul mukarram and johar. some guys from near by goth mistreated ladies of area by touching them. I was told it was noted by local MQM guys who later shot those guys in their area.

    Second news is from baitul mukarram when some guys kidnapped ladies of a family and take them away while the driver was beaten up like hell. later the guy informed some MPA who was helpful to find those ladies. It’s not sure ladies were SAFE or not.

    These news are horrible. Please keep your ladies IN home.

  12. Balma (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 11:36 pm

    Extiinct, Consider this your lucky day / night, that I will spare you my lecture on hijab – due to the fact that your D-day was postponed (or gave you a chance to reconsider if the guy is your cousin and if so, I propose baghaavat) and due to the happenings in Karachi. Understood your reason to travel all the way to a slimy part of town just for fixing up your neck.
    We will get into hijab and cousin marriages another time. Good luck.

  13. Balma (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 11:38 pm

    * Please keep your ladies IN home

    **** Furthermore, please keep your gentlemen IN home as well.

  14. d0ct0r (unregistered) on December 28th, 2007 @ 11:45 pm

    animals are on the loose, just be careful and take care of your loved ones..

  15. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 12:55 am

    The lively side of Karachi always amazes me. Despite of all tragic incidents, lots of cricket tournaments were held in different parts of Karachi where youngsters took full advantage of deserted roads and played cricket for hours.

  16. SarcasticCynic (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 1:03 am

    Hadn’t thought what effects BB’s assasination would have on people’s ceremonies and life. Excellent first person account of your day. Be safe.

  17. Ali (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 1:36 am

    I just realised that Pakistan is going down the drain. I have an idea lets lease the land of Pakistan to Americans and rich middle eastern estates. The money earned from the lease can then be given to the swiss banks and as a result we will save a lot of bad governance and loss of live while achiving the same eventual result.

    Bhutto Family’s wealth is now permenantly with swiss banks, and the few billion they earned could not be taken to the grave.

    What say ye ??

  18. silver (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 1:42 am

    Great idea Ali…

    Now since we already are working like slaves to feed the corrupt leaders and get nothing but blood stains in return … i guess it might be wiser if we work according to your plan

  19. Barrister Ali K.Chishti (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 4:11 am

    err, well most of the karachi was ransacked not by sindis ? but phatans from outskirts of karachi . It was the same ppl. who attacked business recorder building and kfc some time back.
    on benazir bhutto’s death, yes it’s a tragedy – i feel like someone from my family died but then we should not forgive what she and her family ..did ; i mean the ‘corruption’. We are emotional people ; it’s good to forgive but not to forget.
    Respect the dead? ofcourse, may peace be upon her.
    Barrister. AKC.

  20. Pavithra (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 8:59 am


    I agree with the people who said you were lucky to have escaped. May you and yours be safe. our prayers are with you.

  21. ShahidnUSA (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 9:50 am

    @ “Keep your ladies IN home”

    Like they are some kind of goats or animals?
    Typical male dominated society attitude!

  22. IUnknown (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 11:45 am

    @shahid: plz dont comment for fun untill u know the ground realities.

    I am sure if ur sister or mother had been on the roads at that night, u wud have said this.

    Bayhiss loag!

  23. anony (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 11:51 am

    Balma, what makes you think you have any right to give extiinct a lecture about hijab? Its her choice. Just like it is your choice to dress the way you do. Spare her and everyone else your self-righteous preaching.

  24. ShahidnUSA (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 12:10 pm

    You unknown.. Yes I wud have said the same thing.
    But I wud have said the same thing not only to your mother and sister but your father and your brother as well.


  25. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 1:18 pm

    Shahid, stop being an Idiot. Read WHAT i wrote above and don’t always expose your feminist side here and there.

    ask your ladies to roam around in mentioned areas, nobody gives a damn but then don’t whine if something happens.

  26. IUnknown (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 1:29 pm

    @shahid: if yes then u r “bayghairat” wid out any doubts.

    Now u can bark as much as u want

  27. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 1:41 pm

    I wonder and wish if some of you remember my comment about pathan youth with patta cut hair which is sign of wazirstan and a silent expression of obdiency & agreement to the policy of taliban. –

    the barristaer chishti have put is right it was that youth which caused the turmoil in karachi.

    goto google maps, and localise the pockets & areas which got messed up at the TOP.

    1. looting of banks, damaging
    2. snatching cell phones and valuable from car stuck in traffic
    3. ransacking of private property

    all those areas are surrounded by non-karachiite with roots somewhere else.

    what could be possible reason to burn down the askari park? and burning of NMC in DHA.

  28. Zeeshan (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 2:41 pm

    i 2nd you jamal

  29. Adnan Siddiqi (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 2:44 pm

    SHamshi you seem right. Most of infected areas have Katchi Abadi or goth which are causing troubles. This is why areas like Johar,Clifton,Gulshan are more volatile than other areas.

    I heard news about FTC burning but not sure about that.

  30. d0ct0r (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 2:45 pm

    i remember your comment, but atleast all the arsonist and miscreants i came across didn’t match your description.. majority of them looked “local” karachiites to me, definitely am not absolving mobsters from pathan localities young rowdy crowd from those areas was also out there causing mayhem … , and Afghans blocking n burning superhighway are different.. wazirstanis burning down their own containers/trawlers and dump trucks.. is simply hard to digest

  31. d0ct0r (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 2:59 pm

    stereotyping and singling out just waziristanis is not appropriate ..

    just look closely how many of them look waziristanis to you in those pics i have pasted…

  32. d0ct0r (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 3:03 pm

    i agree about rowdy crowds converging from Katchi Abadi & goth and causing mayhem but we all know it very well , only waziristanis don’t live in Katchi Abadi & goths all around karachi..

  33. A for [pine]apple (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 6:05 pm

    Ohhh thats pretty sad … Glad you made it safely back to home …. !!

    Stay safe!!

  34. Barrister Ali K.Chishti (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 8:52 pm

    As a criminal lawyer – I had been fortunate enough to observe the ‘rioting’ , nature of riots and mobs and the way these folks operated.

    a) elements of karachi police were involved in ‘break-ins’ and major robberies arround the karachi ( elements: 2% of the police mid-level officers )

    b) mobs arround karachi mostly (ethinically speaking) comprised of phatans from Sorab Goth, Pehelwan Goth, North Nazimabad and Banaras ( most of them ex-service men and arm guards of security companies ) came out for looting shopping centres * these were small time thugs* and nothing more.

    c) mobs from PPP dominated areas, ( Sindis, Kuthchi Memons) burned cars, petrol stations –

    Point’s To Noted:
    a) Where was Karachi Police?
    b) Where was Karachi Police Reserves?
    c) Where was Karachi Police Specially Trained Mob Force?

    I know the Rangers Stategic Wings of 72,79 and 91 Wings were activated at 10pm and that too with orders of not to shoot by that time , it was too late.

    Yes, it was a national tragedy and angers were high but then it was / is a andministration failure – not just from a Karachi Prespective but from Pakistan’s Prespective. Why do we always act after thing’s happen , remains a mystery to me.

    Who’s to blame?
    – Administration ( CM,Chief Sec.,Brig. Zamin)

    Barrister Ali.K.Chishti.

  35. d0ct0r (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 9:03 pm

    seems like you’re absolving governor who calls all shots .. security review meetings were being held at governor house

    just let governor off the hook coz he is MQM guy while blame a dummy caretake CM.. had it been some thing to take credit about then MQM’s governor would have been on the forefront..

  36. Barrister Ali K.Chishti (unregistered) on December 29th, 2007 @ 11:33 pm

    Yes, Governor Sind, Punjab are too be blamed as well (without any doubt) but MQM on the safer side – did lot of good by taking on control over and helping people unlike ANP and rest of political parties in Pakistan .

  37. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on December 30th, 2007 @ 12:14 am

    Barrister saheb – over the police radio at 6.45PM the CCPO office relayed message to close the station doors and call back all mobiles which are closeby and which are at distance shall seek shelter and look for safety, till further orders. this was repeated from 6.45 till 7 PM,

    and – some of you ignored my comment line – it was element belonging to PPI & ANP – Karachi police, the civilian security companies etc they don’t hire Karachi wala, they hire ex-serviceman, and that class of ex-serviceman are not locals from Karachi.

    – zamzama attached is one small balcoh goth & slum nelam colony is 90% punjabi saraiki & pashto speaking – clifton + bath island attached slum Retti line is sariayki & pashto speaking, DHA is surrounded by akhtar colony on one side and shereen jinnah colony otherside,

    all developed planned areas of karachi are surrounded by Slums and encroachments.

    with peace of mind start gathering data,

    all exit & entry points of mediocre and upmarket residential areas are subject to slum & encroachments, that includes Malir Cantt.( DHA 2 )

  38. d0ct0r (unregistered) on December 30th, 2007 @ 4:27 pm

    @Barrister like mqm’s venemous leadership it seems you also love dragging punjab into everything .. your comments/observation pertained to situation in karachi .. next you say “Yes, Governor Sind, Punjab are too be blamed as well ” i hope you’re not blaming governor punjab for mess in karachi…

  39. d0ct0r (unregistered) on December 30th, 2007 @ 7:13 pm

    AND how could you forgot to mention the name of notorious Nazim Karachi !

    Who’s to blame?
    – Administration ( MQM’s Governor, Care Taker CM,MQM’s Nazim Karachi,Chief Sec.,Brig. Zamin)

    lemme repeat what i have said earlier .. had it been some thing to take credit about then these MQM guys would have been on the forefront..

  40. Farhan Siddiqui (unregistered) on January 1st, 2008 @ 4:40 am

    Some of friends were also visiting Karachi to attend weddings during Christmas vacations from Toronto.

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