Islamabad: Indian poets Manzar Bhopali and
Iqbal Ashar were among those who had a narrow escape when
unidentified gunmen attacked a `mushaira` in the southern
Pakistani port city of Karachi, one of the poets said today.
"We were just outside the venue of the mushaira in
Clifton area of Karachi on Sunday night when the firing
started. People began running in panic and we had to take
cover for some time before we were escorted to safety by the
organisers and the police," said Manzar Bhopali, a well-known
Urdu poet from Bhopal.
At least one person was killed in the attack that was
carried out by about a dozen gunmen. Political rivalry is
believed to have been behind the attack, sources said.
The mushaira was organised by a unit of the Muttahida
Qaumi Movement, a party that draws its power from
Urdu-speaking residents of Karachi.
Bhopali told PTI on phone from Karachi that he and Ashar
had arrived at the venue of the mushaira at about 11.30 pm
when the firing began.
They had to lie on the ground for about 10 minutes as the
gunmen and police exchanged fire.
"However, the mushaira went ahead as scheduled and the
audience really appreciated our poetry. People in both
countries want peace and better relations," Bhopali said.
"I have been to Pakistan several times but this sort of
incident never occurred earlier," he added.
Four Indian poets -- Wasim Barelvi, Rahat Indori, Bhopali
and Ashar -- had recently arrived in Pakistan to participate in
mushairas organised by the MQM.
Barelvi and Indori had already returned and Bhopali said
he and Ashar expected to go back soon.
In recent years, the financial hub of Karachi has been
rocked by sectarian and political violence that has claimed
hundreds of lives.
The killing of a MQM leader and his brother this morning
triggered a fresh spell of violence in Pakistan’s largest