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Thursday, March 5, 2009

The bus driver who saved the Sri Lankans

LAHORE: There was no match but plenty of applause around Qadhafi Stadium on the day. Six brave policemen laid down their lives so that the visiting Sri Lankan cricketers could return home safe. And no less heroic was the feat of Mahar Mohammad Khalil, the bus driver who sped the visitors to safety after the vehicle they were travelling in was ambushed at around 8:50am on Tuesday.

Khalil was later showered with praise and cash awards as he met the members of the Sri Lankan team but perhaps nothing could match the satisfaction he must have felt when he brought the visitors to safety in the morning.

'It happened all of a sudden,' the gritty driver recalled in a talk with Dawn. 'Thank God the rocket fired at the bus missed the target. The next moment, a man came out from a white car and threw two hand grenades towards us. The grenades rolled under the bus but did not explode. Then a second man came out of the same car and opened fire at us.'

Khalil said just then he heard Dr Muqaddar, the liaison officer to Sri Lanka team, shouting loudly. 'He asked me to step on the gas and flee. The voice recharged me,' he said. 'It was as if I had received a 400-watt jolt. We made a dash towards the Gaddafi Stadium and thankfully reached it quickly. It was only when we were there that I found out that some players had been injured.'

Khalil was fortunate that half of the windscreen of his bus on the driver's side was bullet-proof. Two bullets hit the screen but they failed to pierce the glass. Another bullet went through the other half of the windscreen. Had he been hit, not only his own security but that of the whole Sri Lankan team would have been compromised.  

Mahar Khalil dismissed the impression that the attack took place due to a security lapse. 'The security was strict and the policemen exchanged fire with the terrorists. That so many of the policemen were killed is a proof of their commitment,' he reasoned.

PCB chairman Ijaz Butt told Dawn that the Sri Lankan players wanted to thank Khalil in person for keeping his composure in the face of adversity and saving their lives.

Khalil later went to the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) Mess where the Sri Lankans had been taken to before flying out of Lahore. Sources said that upon meeting him the Sri Lankan players hailed the brave driver as their saviour and lavished him with cash prizes as a token of their gratitude. 

By Mohammad Yaqoob
Tuesday, 03 Mar, 2009 | 10:00 PM PST |

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1 comment:

that said...

Well, it clearly shows there are decent, compassionate human beings in every country in the world, despite the terrorists giving such places a bad name. Yes, the heroes here are Khalil, the crowds who hailed him as a hero, the reward donors who recognized the value of human life (unlike the terrorist dogs), and the people who lost their lives trying to save bloodshed. They are ALL heroes. Down with the terrorists!

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