Friday, April 9, 2010

Guest Blog: Ojri Camp : April 10,1988

{ the following post is the lead story at The Pakistani Spectator and its been contributed by: Jamshed Khan}

April 10,1988, a day that remains etched in memory. Impossible to forget. It happened when terror attacks had not become as numbingly routine as they have today. That fateful day began in Rawalpindi and Islamabad just like any other day. People started going to offices and schools. Then suddenly,some ominus sounds were heard. One blast,then another, then another, followed by so many that no other sound could be heard.For some reason, I had been delayed that day. If I had been on the road at that time, I could easily have become another casualty.

But what on earth was happening ? Nobody seemed to know.Some thought it was an Indian invasion.The only sources of information back then were state controlled radio and TV. I rushed to the radio and turned it on,only to find the usual programming.Frantic telephone calls were coming in from relatives all over the city.Bombs were exploding,missiles were falling,people were dying and getting maimed.You were lucky if you happened to be in a safe place.Many were not that lucky.Death and destruction rained from the skies.The carnage was random.I know of at least one victim of Ojri Camp,who took many years to die.Completely paralysed by his injuries,he was breathing but only just.I also read horrifying accounts of children who picked up the shells of unexploded ammunition,only to have it explode in their hands.The number of people killed and maimed was staggering.For many days afterwards,we could hear many more explosions as the unexploded munitions were destroyed.

In the aftermath,much was written and many conspiracy theories were broached.But the most pertinent quesion was,why was there an ammunition dump in the middle of a crowded city ? The tragedy of Ojri Camp demanded honest answers but none were forthcoming.

In the past few years,Pakistan has witnessed so many blood curdling terror attacks.But for me ,the horror of those few hours on April 10,1988 remains unforgettable.

Picture Courtesy: Daily Dawn

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