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October 18: Blood spilled in Karsaz attack still waiting for justice

KARACHI: Twin bombs on the fateful day of October 18, 2007 targeted the homecoming parade of former prime minister of Pakistan Benazir Bhutto in Karachi leaving a scene of death and destruction behind.

Bhutto survived in the attack but the terrorist strike claimed around 177 people and hundreds were injured in one of the major terrorist attacks in Pakistan.

ARY News cameraman Arif Khan, who was on his professional assignment on the day, was one of the people martyred in the incident.

Today, on the 11th anniversary of the Karsaz bomb attack, no progress made yet to bring the culprits to justice despite Bhutto’s Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) governing the province of Sindh for more than 10 years.

According to some accounts, over 500 people were also injured along with the big death toll, when two blasts in quick succession ripped through the procession on Oct 18, 2007.

Incumbent Sindh Assembly Speaker Agha Siraj Durrani, who was security in-charge of the procession, said that the government of the day failed to provide proper security to the welcome procession of Benazir Bhutto.

Provincial adviser for information Murtaza Wahab has said that a memorial of martyred party workers at Garhi Khuda Bux graveyard, commemorates anonymous martyrs of the incident.

Three inquiry committees have been constituted since 2008 to trace the mastermind, handlers and executors of the attack, but to no avail.

After the devastating blasts, the then provincial government, led by chief minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim, had set up an inquiry tribunal to investigate the twin blasts. The tribunal — headed by retired Justice Dr Ghous Mohammad — started proceedings and recorded the statements of around 40 witnesses.

On April 6, 2008 Dr Zulfikar Mirza, who was the chief security adviser to Ms Bhutto, told reporters that the Sindh government would set up a new tribunal to probe the Karsaz blasts since his party had no trust in the proceedings of the tribunal formed by the previous government.

Besides Sindh, the PPP also enjoyed power at the Centre until 2013, but no substantial progress so far been made in the Karsaz bombing case.

In March 2008, the police produced in court Qari Saifullah Akhtar, an alleged Al Qaeda militant, but he was released for want of evidence.

Qari Akhtar was brought before the administrative judge of the anti-terrorism court and was remanded in police custody for allegedly masterminding the twin blasts.

The court, however, released him around 10 days after his remand since the police officer, DSP Nawaz Ranjha, who was later gunned down, submitted that no incriminating evidence had been found to link him with the blasts.

The arrest and production of the alleged militant was made before the PPP came into power and since then there has hardly been any effort made to track down the culprits and bring them to justice.

In 2012, the then Sindh chief minister Syed Qaim Ali Shah said that the provincial government had constituted another committee, headed by a deputy inspector general of police, to inquire into the Karsaz tragedy. But there was no outcome to these inquiries.

Later, Sindh Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah had announced a five-member inquiry committee to re-investigate the twin blast case.

Since the incident, 11 years have passed and the third PPP government ruling Sindh without interruption, but the innocent blood of martyrs still waiting for Justice.

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