Karachi, Oct. 20: It was just after midnight. I was sitting dozing on the top deck of the open-air armoured truck bearing Benazir Bhutto on her triumphant return to Pakistan. The bus was making its slow progress from Karachi’s international airport to the Jinnah mausoleum.
Benazir was due to make a speech to the millions of supporters who had come to welcome her, but the night was still young and we had another five hours to go before we reached our destination.
We had already been on the truck for six hours and Benazir had gone to its lower level to rest her swollen feet. A half-moon was shining and my dozing was intermittently interrupted as the crowd continued to roar in excitement at our approaching truck.
Suddenly, I was blown out of my chair by an explosion; when I opened my eyes, I was crouching on the floor surrounded by the several other occupants on the top deck, who included relatives, friends and party workers.
Outside it was chaos. Somehow, amid all the confusion, I managed to scramble clear.
My first thought was what had happened to Benazir. Was she safe' And if she was, what would this mean for her political future'
The scene that greeted me as I clambered down into the street did not bode well. Mangled metal and shards of glass were on the pavement and a fire was burning furiously to the left of the truck.
My first question to the group of people standing around was: “Where is Benazir, is she safe'”
“Yes,” I heard from her former defence minister who had been travelling with us and had also escaped. “She got away.”
Fearing the truck might explode, I ran.