The Dragon

  • 12 Jan - 18 Jan, 2019
  • Nadeem Alam
  • Fiction

We were running short of time. Ghulam Rasul, Resham and her brother were without any food and water since morning. I knew I had to do something fast. I was still waiting for any update from my Karachi source. As I had put my phone on charging in Bilal’s house, called my source from Bilal’s phone. He told me that he had just finished emailing me the required information. Thanking him, I hung up the call. I gave the phone back to Bilal and continued to walk, took a right turn to enter the street that led us to Bilal’s house. It was now about 10:30 p.m and the street looked deserted. Suddenly, a man appeared out of nowhere and held Bilal at gunpoint. He asked us to empty our pockets and I was in a fix on what to do as I have the USB in my pocket that might have the most important clue about the whereabouts of Resham and Ghulam Rasool. After snatching mobile and wallet from Bilal, he pointed the gun at me and I handed him over my wallet. He then asked me for my mobile that I did not have. Not believing, he asked me to remove my jacket. As I handed him over my jacket and he started running with it, I recalled my first day in Karachi. I had to do something again before he took my life away from me. I still had Bilal’s pistol with me. It was tucked in my ankle holster. Without wasting another moment, I bent down, took out the pistol and shot the robber. He fell down and we rushed towards him, got our things back from his hold and fled the scene as the gunshot had made quite an uproar in the area. Then we tool a U-turn and joined the murmuring people gathered around the dead body. We hurriedly entered into Bilal’s house without anybody noticing us.

As soon as I got hold my breathe, I checked my wallet and lose my breathe again. My credit cards and CNIC were missing. I sent Bilal to check the scene outside. After about 15 minutes, he came back and broke the bad news to me. Police had arrived the scene and had found my credit cards and CNIC that had the name Faqir Muhammad, a resident of neighbouring village. I heaved a sigh of relief as I was in no immediate danger. There was no way I could be trashed from an old CNIC and credit cards were of a little concern to me. Although they were of South African banks but they could directly land me in trouble if someone dug deep into this murder. I was though not much perturbed as killing of a street thug did not carry much significance. I was aware of crime mafia as they always have police by their side and they share the robbed amount with them. So he was just another pawn gunned down. Someone will replace him soon. Police would pay a courtesy visit to my village and then close the case terming it as a robbery gone bad or as a gang feud. Presence of my credit cards in the case file will remain a vulnerable issue which must be resolved soon but I decided to leave it for another time.

I recalled that once I left a wrapper at the scene of a crime, I almost paid for that laxity with my life. It was a simple task and I completed it very efficiently. I was paid to blow up a political party office at a disputed site. There was no instruction about killing any person so I decided to do the task after midnight. It was in Landhi area that was at quite a distance from my place. I visited the said office during day time and even went inside. The office was located in a single storey market place. The front side was on a main road and contained few cameras by adjacent shops. There was a small stream on the backside of market. The stream was filled with garbage. The backside access was difficult but I knew it was a safer option.

On the day of operation, I came to the area at about 10 pm in public transport. I sat in a small hotel on other side of the road and started observing the market. Few shops were still open including the party office. There were few guys sitting on chairs

in front of the office. It was at about 11 pm that they got up, closed the office and went away. As per my observation, the backside wall was hardly 4 inches wide. I waited for another ten minutes and then picked up my heavy bag that had a hammer, an iron bar, my homemade explosive device and some spare clothes. I went around the market and after walking through the garbage and filth, reached at the backside of party office. It was quite dark but I lit the place with a small torch. I measured the distance with a small laser range finder from both ends of the market and marked a point to dig through the wall. Every strike was producing a thud sound.

I had already covered the nail head with rubber so it was masking the noise to a considerable degree. Moreover, I also made sure to make it sound like a random noise. There was traffic plying on the front road as well and I was certain that an occasion hammer noise would not create any suspicion. After fifth strike, I got successful as the brick I had been hammering, gave way. I just pulled out the first brick and taking out few more made a small hole which was enough to throw the device inside. After getting done with my job, I changed clothes before reappearing on the front side. Now, I was standing at some distance on the other side of the road holding a small remote control in my hand. I boarded a bus and as it started moving, I pushed the button. There was a big explosion in the market. I looked back from the open bus window and saw blown up shops and the air was filled with thick smoke.

It was a job well done but on the third night after the successful completion of the task, I encountered an ambush. While on way to my apartment on Tariq Road, I saw two motorbikes standing at some distance from the residential block behind a huge commercial plaza. Though I did not expect them to be standing there for me but I did got alert, somehow. I was on foot and was returning from reconnaissance of my next target. It was about 11 pm and there was lot of commotion on the road. As I neared the suspected bikes, they started moving towards me and I saw a pistol held by the person sitting on backseat of the first motorcycle. As he passed by me and started firing, I had already jumped behind a car. The second bike came from the other side but by that time, I had slipped under the car. I was quite skinny then and had no problem sliding under a parked car. They did not bother to stop or look for me and instead sped away. People had started gathering but they did not know as to who was the target. Nobody was injured or killed. I quietly came out from under the car and joined the crowd. I knew my apartment was now not safe. I disappeared into the darkness and went to an alternate place. In next few days, I spent all my energies to find out as to how was I traced? What I discovered was not only funny but embarrassing for me. I was trying to quit smoking back then and had started eating pans. The pan shop in front of my apartment block sold the pans in his own custom made paper which contained name of his shop. The trouser which I had abandoned at the Landhi market contained an empty wrapper of the same pan shop. This was how they traced this place and after keeping this place under surveillance had found me. I was learning valuable lessons from my each target.


In the meantime, Bilal had shifted his desktop computer from his son’s room to the sitting room. My phone was also now fully charged so I took it out and plugged the Resham’s phone for charging. Bilal turned on the computer and connected it to some wifi signals coming from the neighbourhood. He was sharing with the neighbour’s device. I first downloaded the cellphone call data record sent by my Karachi source. Then I plugged in the USB which I had taken from police station. It contained the last three days footage of Mangi hotel front camera. We started watching it at double the speed but still spent almost three hours to locate the time when Ghulam Rasul checked into the hotel. Another two hours we spent to identify an individual who had followed Ghulam Rasul when he left at 9 p.m. to go to his village and never came back. I took clear picture of the suspected person from the footage and sent it to a friend in NADRA. It was now almost morning and I did not expect any clue about this individual before noon. So, I started checking the phones which I had recovered from my hide out. There was no worthwhile information in them except for one message which I found in Resham’s cell phone. Contents of the text message were, “I am a friend of Faqir Mohammad. Call me when you are alone.” The cell number certainly belonged to the curly haired man or to some of his accomplice.

I then started analysing the call data records of the three cell numbers. Interestingly, they all came in the Ghotki city tower and then went to the tower location of my hide out before they were turned off. I also forwarded the cell number which had sent the message to my Karachi source for its location record. I was now dosing when Bilal returned to the room with breakfast. I was worried about the Ghulam Rasul, Resham and her brother. It was now over 24 hours when they might have had their last meal. Temperature in and around Ghotki was very high. Without water, they had very little time left. Curly haired man was right. I had now started feeling the pain which he so desired. He knew I would never forgive myself if anything bad happened to either of the abductees. I was left with only two leads: the identity of the person who was following Ghulam Rasul and location chart of the cell number which had sent text message to Resham.

to be continued...