It was the 27th of February in 2010 just like any other day for Constable Muhammad Riaz. He was guarding the main police station of Karak, where more than 40 officers were on duty. The night before Riaz had gone to meet his parents to talk about his upcoming wedding.
At work in the morning, he stood watching people pass by. He was a little more alert than usual as the joint intelligence circles had issued an alert that a vehicle with an IED and a potential suicide bomber was expected to target any government installation in Bannu or the surrounding area.
Suddenly Riaz spotted a teenager with a turban driving a double cabin vehicle driving rashly. He approached from Bannu and was making its way through the busy market towards the police station. Riaz blinked, took a deep breath, firmed his grip on his AK-47 in his right hand. He raised his other hand to order him to stop. The vehicle gained speed and rammed into the first barrier near the police station.
Riaz pulled the trigger and emptied his magazine aimed at the driver’s seat. He was preparing to load a magazine when the vehicle hit the last barrier where Riaz was on guard. There was a massive explosion.
It was so big that people heard it 25 kilometers away and it left a 15-feet wide crater. Four people were killed and 24 others were injured. Houses nearby were damaged.
What was left of Riaz and the suicide bomber were found scattered from the tops of different houses in the area, according to then DPO of Karak Sajjad Ahmad. They estimated that around 200kg of explosives had been used.
This was the first ever bombing of such magnitude in the history of Karak district in which 20 vehicles parked inside the police station were completely destroyed. You can still see the cracks in the walls.
Riaz’s father Mureed Khan is from Lakarki Bhanda on the outskirts of Takht-e-Nusrati town. Riaz was his eldest son. After his death, he sent his other son, Muhammad Anwar, to take his place. “It was my desire that he join the police station,” he told SAMAA Digital. “[Riaz] sacrificed his life by saving many lives. It was his calling.”
He explained why they made this decision. The loss cannot be compensated for but if fathers like him don’t send their children to the forces and police how will the rest of the country be kept at peace? After this death of his firstborn, despite being told by many people not to send his younger son for recruitment to the police, he did and Anwar was selected.
“It must have caused quite a stir,” Mureed Khan says. “One son replaced by another at the same post at the same police station to serve the people.” He didn’t have the courage to go see him in uniform at the same place where his other son had lost his life.
After serving at the same police station, Anwar was recently transferred to Kohat City Police Station. He declined to talk to the media as he is a government employee and added that it didn’t seem fit for a man in uniform to shed tears during service, even if it were for his beloved elder brother.
The police in Karak honour Riaz. There are many others who have also laid down their lives. Karak District Police Officer Iftikharud Din said that the police bear the brunt in the line of duty. He has lost 13 men to militancy and the force is now supporting their families financially with “shuhada or martyr packages”.
“We have not forgotten our fallen soldiers nor will we ever and we will always be at their doorstep to help their families in every way whenever they need us.”