VIP Movement Claims Another Life
27 April, 2006
By Amir Latif
For inhabitants of coastal areas all over the world, Tsunami is a massive tidal wave, which has no schedule to hit and destroy them. But for Karachiites, it has a totally different meaning. For them, tsunami is not a tidal wave. This is General Pervez Musharraf, the President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan who hits Karachi like tsunami- no schedule no prior announcement.
How do citizens know that Tsunami is coming? All of a sudden, shopkeepers start to pull their shutters down, ferocious lifters start lifting the vehicles parked across Sharae Faisal, contingents of law enforcing agencies take positions on the residential and government buildings, traffic on Sharae Faisal and other adjacent arteries and service lanes comes to a halt, and long queues of vehicles are seen on all major city roads. These are the signs to warn the citizens that Tsunami is coming.
General Musharraf, who claims to feel the problems faced by the citizens due to VIP movement, has issued "orders" many times to the provincial governments and the law enforcement agencies not to halt the traffic and close down roads for more than 15 minutes during his movement. General Musharraf and other VIPs may not know that the stoppage of traffic in city like Karachi for 15 minutes is enough to extinguish the flame of various lives.
In a civilised society, one cannot even imagine to see ambulances carrying patients in precarious condition stuck up in traffic jams because of the so-called VIP movement. Perhaps, a civilised government would resign if a patient dies because of this rare phenomenon whereby the lives of common citizens can be put on stake in order to ensure the security of the rulers.
But Karachiites are used to this phenomenon. Seeing ambulances stuck up in the traffic jams is not an extra-ordinary thing for them. In civilised countries, the lives of common citizens are more precious than the lives of their rulers, but in Pakistan, it is totally adverse.
Reportedly half a dozen patients have so far died in the ambulances stuck up in the traffic jams and could not reach the hospitals, however, unofficial statistics suggest that the number are high.
Last week, a student of the University of Karachi died of an appendix rupture after being stranded in a traffic jam due to presence of General Pervez Musharraf in the city.
However, her family refrained from disclosing the circumstances in which Zill-i-Huma, 23, a student of the KU's Mass Communication Department died, apparently due to some kind of pressure from authorities.
According to reports, Huma, resident of Cantt Bazar off Karsaz Road, complained of stomach pain. She was taken to the nearby hospital, which referred her to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre.
Subsequently, the family tried to rush to the JPMC in a cab, but was caught in a traffic jam caused by VIP movement.
Finally, when Zill-i-Huma reached the JPMC, the doctors at the Department of Accidents and Emergency consoled the family, saying that had she been brought a little earlier, her life could have been saved by surgery.
This was sixth such reported incident, but the first case of appendix rupture, to have taken place on the Sharae Faisal due to VIP movement. Most of the deaths that occurred under such circumstances in the past were due to cardiac arrests.
On January 6, two heart patients were pronounced dead at the National Institute of Cardiovascular Diseases. Their lives could have been saved had they not been stranded in the traffic jam. On January 7, more deaths were reported at the NICVD due to similar circumstances.
The tragic death of Zill-I-Huma could have been gone unnoticed if the class fellows of the deceased had not held a protest demonstration at Karachi Press Club a few days later her death. According to sources, the protesting students were threatened by the "authorities" of dire consequences if they did not halt their protest.
A future journalist lost her life for nothing. She could have survived if she had reached the hospital in time. Neither the society nor the government is ready to be held accountable for her death. As Faiz Ahmed Faiz says " Ya Khoon-Khak Nashina Tha Rizk-e-Khak Howa". General Musharraf is very rightly worried about his life, but who will be worried about the lives of common citizens like Huma?
Another lamentable aspect of this tragic incident is that none of the government functionaries, including the "Karachi-friendly" Governor Sindh Dr Ishrat-ul-Ebad, the soldier of General Musharraf, Chief Minister Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim, and Haq Parast city nazim Mustafa Kamal had the curtsey to visit Huma's residence and condoled her death. They even did not issue a single statement in this regard.
For long, social and political circles have been demanding the shifting of either various big hospitals located along Sharae Faisal or the direction of VIP movement from there. Unfortunately, almost all the major government hospitals, including Jinnah Hospital, Institute of Cardiovascular Disease, National Institute of Child Health, and Kidney center are located along Sharae Faisal, which is the epicenter of VIP movement.
They are within their right to ask as to why don't the president and prime minister use helicopters instead of causing hardships for the common people?