Relatives of Mastung blast victims wait for the dead bodies of their loved ones

An edited version of this article was first published in The Express Tribune on Jan 9, 2013.

Everyday since December 31, 23-year-old Farhan Jamali has been visiting the Holy Family Hospital in Rawalpindi with just one hope: That this would be the day he would finally collect the dead body of his older brother, Nisar Ahmed.

Ahmed, and Jamali’s cousin Baqir Ali, were two of the 19 people killed in the Mastung district of Balochistan on December 30, when a car bomb ripped through a bus carrying Shia pilgrims to Iran.

The 19 dead bodies, beyond identification, were brought to Rawalpindi for DNA testing and matching.

But even after nine days, the relatives of the deceased – their DNA has been tested and the reports received – have no clue when they might receive the dead bodies.

“Since the first day, the hospital authorities have been telling us the DNA samples of our dead relatives have been sent from Quetta and we would find out about the identification in 8 to 10 days,” Jamali said.

But on Tuesday, HFH authorities shocked the relatives by saying they haven’t even received the samples from Quetta yet.

“Now they are telling us the deputy commissioner of Mastung never sent the DNA samples to Quetta,” Jamali said. “This is the biggest administrative blunder.”

HFH authorities, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said the Quetta hospital staff are not coordinating with them.

Five of the dead, including Ahmed and Ali, are from Sindh’s Dadu district.

Jamali, who travelled from Lahore to collect their bodies, has been staying at a friend’s house in Rawalpindi for the past nine days. Now he is not sure if they can keep on staying with the same friend for long.

The relatives of the deceased from Sindh have had some help from Riaz Satti, the Islamabad coordinator for Haleem Adil Sheikh, the Sindh minister for relief. The minister has arranged for the dead bodies to be transported to their homes in Sindh, once they are identified.

Satti expressed deep concerns about the level of cooperation shown by provincial authorities to the victims’ families.

“The Quetta authorities have committed gross negligence, but the Punjab government has been equally cruel,” Satti said.

He said the HFH Medical Superintendent (MS) Arshad Ali Sabir had repeatedly promised them that the dead bodies will be delivered to the victims’ relatives on Tuesday.

“He (Sabir) changed his statement today,” Satti said. “This is the height of injustice.”

He said he was not certain if the MS would deliver on his current promise that the samples will be DNA samples of the deceased will be received from Quetta tomorrow.

Meanwhile, the relatives of the deceased are uncertain about the future. Jamali said the relatives of one mother and son from the Khairpur area have already left back for Sindh.

Ahmed only got married a year and a half ago. Baqir’s 3-month-old daughter is an orphan.

Their families, back in Dadu, are only taking comfort that they will be able to honor their lives with a proper burial, Jamali said. He said there biggest demand was that the dead bodies be identified and handed over as soon as possible, so the bereaved can have some peace.

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