January 4, 2011

There was some sort of roadblock keeping our taxi from driving along the final two blocks to our destination, Kohsar Market. In the intersection, a policeman controlling traffic was motioning for cars to detour off down a residential lane. Several cars that had avoided the detour were parked haphazardly ahead along the curb.

"Let's just get out of the cab here," I said to Irina. "The cafes are only a couple blocks away. We can walk around whatever this is."

As we approached Kohsar Market I described the two coffeehouses we could choose between. Upon getting closer to the entrance we saw all nature of emergency vehicles at the intersection just off the market: an ambulance, several police cars, television news vans with satellite dishes atop, and an enormous vehicle that resembled a paddy wagon but had the words MOBILE FORENSIC SCIENCE LABORATORY ISLAMABAD POLICE hand-painted along its side. Dozens of uniformed officers, some wearing coats with the words "ANTI-TERROR SQUAD" on their backs were milling about.

The media presence was growing but nobody seemed ready to issue a report yet. More and more journalists kept filtering in over the minutes we stayed at the scene. A car drove up with a sign, "Turkish Press" in its windshield. A woman holding a microphone encased in a cube bearing a rainbow peacock and the intials CNBC stood looking unsure what to do while her cameraman tried aiming his camera at her from different angles. Pakistani media outlets: Samaa, Geo, Express News, and others were all already on the scene or arriving.

A man with a TV camera slung over his shoulder asked us what we knew about the situation.

"I don't know. What happened?", I asked him back.

"The governor of the Punjab, Salman Taseer was just killed here. It was done by one of his own bodyguards."

"Is that what happened? Is that the official word?", asked another nearby man holding a microphone.

"Yes, it is official," the man with the camera on his shoulder replied. He continued to ask us questions, perhaps hoping to turn it into some sort of footage that could be aired. How often did we come to Kohsar Market? Did we have any comment on the situation?

"Uh, we just came here for coffee. Sitting at that coffeehouse over there yesterday was my first time even in this neighborhood. You really don't want to use anything I could tell you on TV," I told him. "By the way, how long ago did this happen?"

"At 4:30," the cameraman said. It wasn't yet 5:00.

In the middle of the street orange pylons weighted down by bricks had been placed around a dark patch of liquid. Irina and I stepped away from the assassination site and toward the shops of Kohsar Market. The front door to the cafe where we had been intending to go, Cafe Mocca, was about ten paces from the central point of the activity. Cafe Mocca was closed. So was the alternate cafe I had mentioned as a possibility to Irina on our way in--in fact, all the shops in Kohsar Market had closed up early.

As more journalists and law enforcement officials filtered in, the two of us walked off: back toward the hotel where we were staying in the next neighborhood over.