Author: Shiraz Hassan
Pakistan has been a hotbed of terrorism and militancy for almost a decade now. In this period of time, more than 50,000 people have become victims of terrorism with the north western areas being especially vulnerable to militancy and bloodshed. Many Pakistanis see the country’s future as dark and hopeless, however, Ansar Abbas is not one of them.
Syed Ansar Abbas, aged 30, is one of the many victims of terrorism that has plagued Pakistan. He lost both his arms in a suicide attack in Dera Ismail Khan. However, despite such a grave and life-altering tragedy, he is still hopeful and passionate about the days to come. With an indomitable spirit he says,
“I don’t like to be labelled as disabled or a victim”.
Currently working as a news editor with a news agency in Pakistan, Ansar is pursuing his career confidently and hopes to make Pakistan a better country. He also worked as a field monitor in DI Khan for PakVotes for the recently concluded by-elections.
The life of Ansar Abbas is a true story of hope and resilience.
He hails from the north western city of Dera Ismail Khan. Son of lawyer Syed Muzaffar Shah and youngest among his ten siblings, he belongs to a noble family in his district.
Ansar drew inspiration from his father, as he was well connected to literary circles. This also encouraged Ansar to take up Mass Communication as a subject for his Masters’ degree at the Gomal University, DI Khan. Having completed his Masters’ in 2006, he began his career as a journalist with a national daily.
Looking back in time, he recalls,
“I was passionate about writing since my childhood; my father was my inspiration, and hence I chose to be a journalist.”
However, as fate would have it, around five years ago his life changed forever.
On August 19, 2008, while in Dera Ismail Khan, Ansar came to know about a target killing incident in the city. He reached the district hospital along with other reporters where he learnt that the victim belonged to his family. Soon, many of his family members and others gathered at the hospital. There was a crowd of some 200 people there when tragedy struck; a suicide bomber blew himself up, resulting in a death toll of 32 people. More than 50 people were injured, and Ansar was one of them. He narrates how around 20 of his relatives and friends died on that tragic day.
Recalling the incident he says,
“I guess I was in my senses after the blast, or maybe I wasn’t, but I saw my arm cut off from my body laying in front of me.”
If this trauma was not enough, both his legs were also fractured in the blast. He was sent to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) hospital, Islamabad the next day for treatment, where he was operated on almost 50 times in six months. He recovered physically with the passage of time but lost his arms.
Ansar’s real arms were replaced by artificial ones which he cannot even move – such is the sorry state of prosthesis in Pakistan.
Yet, Ansar did not lose hope. He did not give up, and he moved on.
He says it, in a matter-of-fact tone,
“What had happened cannot be undone; it’s time to move forward, to live my own life”
And that is what he has successfully done.