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Ojri Camp Disaster 1988- A True Story

Ojri Camp Disaster 1988- A True Story

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Published by Memoona Saqlain
It is a recount of 1oth April, 1988 when the secret military ammunition depot blasted, killing many innocent civilians, which I, as a teenager witnessed and experienced with my siblings.
It is a recount of 1oth April, 1988 when the secret military ammunition depot blasted, killing many innocent civilians, which I, as a teenager witnessed and experienced with my siblings.

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Published by: Memoona Saqlain on Dec 09, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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April 10
It was an unusual morning though it appeared to be quite normal with its usualmorning rituals. People in the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi got up withoutthe slightest idea of the tragedy that was awaiting them.I still remember there was a feeling of listlessness and unease engulfing me. Igot out of bed late because my school was closed for Spring break. My two younger  brothers and a sister were also home with me. I was fourteen and was quite happy withmyself because I had recently won a Federal Board Scholarship by securing 8
positionin the scholarship examination conducted by the Federal Board. But that particular morning had sadness about it, which I felt very badly. We ate a late breakfast and my brothers got out for cycling. My mother had already gone to her job before we got up.Since I had nothing else to do I went outside in our lawn to play with the newchicks that had been recently hatched by one of my mother’s red hens. I carefully took out the chicks because their mother was not happy with my interference. I gave her some food and water so I can play with the chicks undisturbed. I still remember their soft feathers and tiny beaks with which they were picking the grain from my palm. Theymade me happy and I was lost playing with them when all of a sudden there was a big bang!!! It was so strong that it shook the ground under my feet and I stumbled. Thechicks were scared and they became silent. I got up from the ground, still holding thechick in my hand without realising that my grip had tightened on the little creature andit was going to die, if I did not release it soon. The bang jolted the big windows of our flat, which opened in the lawn and shattered their glass; I rushed out of the lawn so thatI could avoid the shattered glass. The frightened chicks came to life and ran after me.
They were making a lot of noise and their distressed mother was squeaking loudlyinside the coop.I quickly went inside and found my younger sister hiding under the bed andloudly crying calling “Ammi Jan! Ammi Jan!!!”. Before I could go to her I was forcedto look outside the broken windows, as there was a huge black and circular cloud of smoke almost touching the sky. The sunlight was dimmed and it looked like a cloudyday. The black cloud reminded me of the images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki that I hadseen in the movies, when the atom bomb was dropped upon them by the US during theWorld War II. The confusion and tumult outside our flat brought me back to my sensesand I could once again hear my sister. Then somebody knocked at our door and askedus to get out of our house quickly.I had to go into all the three rooms of our flat and so that I could reach myfrightened sister. I was scared too and worried about my brothers and mother who wereoutside and I had no idea about them. While I locked the house, holding my sobbingsister, I thought we had been finally attacked by India. In 1988 Pakistan was not adeclared Nuclear power and the threat of an attack from India was something mygeneration was growing with ever since we were born. However, there were noaeroplanes and I thought India has fired a nuclear missile at Islamabad and we would bedead soon.When we got out there were women and children everywhere and few men. Asit was late morning and men had already gone to their work, only women and childrenwere at home. All my neighbour aunts were standing on the pavement trying todetermine what had actually happened. The general consensus was however thatIslamabad had been attacked by India. Then somebody suggested that we should run
towards the open space at the back of the blocks, where now Fatima Jinnah Park has been built. There was a panic when someone pointed to some flying objects comingtowards our flats and the shout of “run” made everybody to run because if they hit our  blacks they would have smashed the blocks and us along with the tall and huge blocks.These blocks were called as “C Type Flats” and each black comprises sixteen flats. Thefear of death forced us to run to save our lives. I could not run because my brotherswere still not back and I could not find them anywhere because of people all around.One of my neighbours dragged my younger sister and me with her. She told me not toworry about my brothers and that they would be safe. However, the idea of leavingthem on their own in this emergency was something I could not entertain at any cost.I hid myself in our lawn with my sister and waited for my brothers. After sometime they came and we threw their bicycle in the lawn and followed others towardsthat open space without realising that by going there we were exposing ourselves to theflying shells and missiles. Fatima Jinnah Park was an open vast plateau that was verygreen due to the spring season. After running there for a long time we jumped in a ditchand bent our heads on our knees. We were scared to death because death was very closeand if we had picked our heads we would have definitely been hit by the flying death.We could hear their hissing sounds as they pass above our heads.The ditch in which we sheltered ourselves was not a very spacious one and four of us were huddled almost upon each other. I could the white faces my siblings but Iwas so frightened myself that I could not utter a single word. Once I tried to peek so thatI could look at other people but at the same time something passed my ear almosttouching my head and I quickly turned my head down. I thought it was our last day andwe were soon going to die without our mother in that ditch.

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