The Peshawar Bomb Disposal Squad

Kiran Nazish in The Express Tribune:

Just as I had almost given up hope that he would tell me his story, he looked up and spoke: “I can’t remember exactly which wire I was on when the explosion took place, but I was almost done defusing the bomb.”

I tried to make sense of what he had said, and he looked as confused as I felt, but then he explained further. “There were two bombs planted in this girls’ school, but we knew of just one. While I was defusing this one,” he stretched out his hands, as if working on an invisible bomb, “there was an explosion from the other side.” His eyes grew wide and he leaned forward as he spoke, “Eleven young girls were killed, and so many were injured. I just lost one finger from the shrapnel.” He shook his head, seeming disappointed at having lost ‘just’ one finger.

Saleem Khan, 45, has defused more than a hundred bombs in his time with the Peshawar Bomb Disposal Squad and once he starts telling his tale, it’s not hard to see why the loss of a finger seems like a small thing to him.

Many of his friends in the squad have lost an arm or a leg while defusing bombs, but some have lost much more. Two of his best friends died in blasts while on duty — friends he had grown up with. One of them, an eager young man called Mushtaram, joined the Peshawar bomb disposal squad because he could not find any other means to support his wife and four-year-old son. More:

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