A victim speaks

Ishtiaq Ahmed had been in Lahore's police force since 2007 - until a single bullet cut his life short during the att


    Seeing a family mourn the death of a son or daughter is something I will never get used to.

    In a dusty village just outside Lahore late at night I visit the home of one of the policeman who died in the brutal attack on Jinnah hospital.

    A brick courtyard opens up onto a veranda where men lie on wooden beds tied together with rope.

    Sunder village is collection of red brick houses just off a busy thoroughfare.

    Ishtiaq Ahmed, an assistant superintendent in Lahore's police force, used to live in one of these houses, surrounded by a loving extended family.

    In the evenings they would gather in the courtyard and swap stories, listening as other villagers brought in tales of woe, hopeful the family could help them.

    Ashfaq is Ishtiaq's older brother. When he heard the news of the shooting at the hospital he was glued to the TV, unaware that his younger brother was on duty that night.

    About 30 minutes after the attack he received a phone call from the police saying his brother had been injured in the attack.

    "I went to straight to the hospital. By the time I got there, Ishtiaq had died," he says.

    Ishtiaq had been in the force since 2007, and was due to be married in three months time. But a single bullet cut his life short. After he was shot, he lay bleeding on the floor, eventually dying from his wounds.

    Ashfaq's eyes are red as he retells the tale. "It happened so quickly he didn't have a chance to get his pistol. His duty had only started at midnight ...10 minutes after midnight he was dead."

    As we sit and listen to Ashfaq speak of his brother I notice his hand is shaking.

    He has not slept for 24 hours. He stayed with his brother's body until police released it at 6am.

    He took the body straight to the burial site, and then returned to the courtyard, where he had shared so many good times with his brother, to mourn his loss.

    "Since hearing the news we have not slept. I am in shock. We have had his police chief visit us. Ishtiaq is with God now."

    Ashfaq is angry at the police. He says his brother should not have been there.

    At Jinnah hospital that night, it was not only the victims of Friday's attack on the Ahmadi mosques who  lay in the wards. One of the captured gunmen was also there.

    Ashfaq wonders why. "For such a dangerous criminal they were holding, they should have had better protection," he says. "The elite force should have been deployed, not ordinary police."

    I can only imagine what it is like to bury someone who died in a brutal attack like Ishtiaq.

    As I leave the courtyard I hope I never experience what Ashfaq has been through over the past few days.


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