Cities, Airports & Their Security

Islamabad -- Pakistani commandos from the Airport Security Force (ASF) stand alert at the Islamabad International Airport following a bomb threat.

Islamabad -- Pakistani commandos from the Airport Security Force (ASF) stand alert at the Islamabad International Airport following a bomb threat.

“Would you please take care of my bag, I’m just coming from outside to get something to eat.” I heard these words while I put my earphones off from the ears after she started gesturing her hand close to my face in order that to get my attention which was attached to listening mp3. I looked at her. She was a Pakistani, seemed to be in mid 20’s. “Sure, it’s alright”, I replied to her. “I’m sitting here”, I added. “Thanks”, she said. “I’m just coming back in a jiffy”. I nodded with smile and put the bag on an empty bench next to mine, while she went off for outside.

It was last year when I was coming back to Pakistan from England and had a stay of around 6 hours at Islamabad airport en route to Karachi — the actual destination. While I have a good enough experience of waiting long hours at airports, I’m bit used to of it now. I wasn’t getting bored at the airport as such, rather I was excited to be in my country, and feeling particularly warmed up — perhaps this was due to that I was just coming from a country after quite a while where the acceptance and reception of benignancy has influenced me by and large.

“You shouldn’t have done that”, another voice reverberated in my ears. I put my head on again and saw few guys sitting on benches in front of me — all of them starring at me. Perhaps they had listened to my and the girl’s conversation. One of them said: “You did wrong. You don’t know what’s inside her bag; you were stranger to her and vice versa. It could be a bomb too”. “Bomb”, I startlingly repeated after him. And then it flashed in my mind like anything that I was in Pakistan and no more in England. “But …”, I stopped saying my words because one of the guy who stood from the bench in hurry exclaimed at his fellows on the bench, “this is surely suspicious — could be a bomb too”, and then I saw others following him — standing up with all due haste as if the bomb was really ready to explode in the next second. The guy who brought the idea that the bag could have a bomb too asked me curtly, “where did the girl go?” (Larki kahan gayee?) I told him she went outside to get the juice and some edibles. So, what could be the situation can you imagine, readers?

All of those sitting on the benches in front of me, just the next moment after completely knowing that I was really stranger to her and the bag was suspicious too, ran amok shouting in the lounge: bomb .. bomb. I couldn’t understand for a minute what to do because the lounge of Islamabad airport — which luckily wasn’t much crowded at that time — was jolted as if the tremor came about. Everyone was running outside following the guys who supposedly announced the bag could have a bomb. I sailed out too to the place where I saw the girl going out. While I went out, I saw her from far coming back. I took a sigh, because if the bag really had any explosive material inside, the girl sure wouldn’t have been coming back. I moved towards her and caught her in between, telling her that the bag she handed me over has created a chaos inside — people left the lounge chaotically, saying it has a bomb. She was surprised, saying “Oh my God, let’s go inside.” I sailed in with her. While we sailed in together, the guy who actually revealed to me the bag could have a bomb, lo and behold, shouted: “Here are they”, aiming his index towards us — telling the servicemen and airport security officials who were standing there. One serviceman, who seemed senior most, asked the girl with a strict tone: “Why did you leave the bag unattended.” Aalia, whose name I actually learnt later, told the servicemen it wasn’t unattended, telling him further that she left it to a friend — aiming at me. That serviceman gave a bad facial gesture to us. He was right at his place, though. By that time we had learnt that the bomb squad arrived within minutes, I guess three or four minutes, and the bag was cleared — marked as safe. I apologized the serviceman and the airport security officer while Aalia did the same too. Things were cooled off in the lounge, humans were back to normal after a few moment of feelings that the death is inevitable today, though they all kept starring both of us — Aalia and me. Maybe they wanted to say “you’re idiots”. But guess what, maybe because of Aalia being a female they just kept their anger limited to the starring-like-bull instead of angry words.

Aalia was like: “Taubah hai, ajeeb drama hogaya ye tu”, while giving the juice and samoosa to me which she had brought for herself too. This juice and samoosa has cost us enough, I said to her, laughing. She laughed too saying, “yes, actually the juice can be bought from inside, but this Pakistani samoosa wasn’t available inside so went out.” Then, that, besides all such chaos and somewhat humiliation, this has become memorable, I said to her. It sure became memorable.

We reviewed the whole event after sitting back on the benches. I told Aalia this was quick of bomb squad, army and airport security that they turned up too promptly. It was really good and responsible of them, I lauded them again. She repeated after me.

Perhaps airport is yet another sensitive place, so that’s why the service was prompt. But then, it pushed me back to a time when I had faced a similar startling event in London underground near the Heathrow and the security turned up in the same due time of three or four minutes that it turned up at Islamabad airport. Thankfully, we’re good in such promptness of security too at the airports, specially when it comes to the comparison with airports like Heathrow or London Underground. What is needed in Pakistan now is the more magnanimous plan for the outside of the airports too, in cities. Prompt services like available at the airports is needed within the cities too, not just for the coping of the potential bomb threats but any kind of issue like the security issues, robbery, theft, mugging, or useless fights etc. It’s time we spend from national exchequer with prudence on these practical issues instead of filling the pockets or bowing down in front of self-proclaimed super powers. Sadly, everyone in government, a big majority at least is doing the same — filling pockets or spending on impractical things.

MQM & The Mask Of Hypocrisy

MQM Trying To Set Foot In Punjab

MQM Trying To Set Foot In Punjab

It’s actually quite a sordid thing that when people talk in a high-powered way against the unjustices with a purpose to gain some attention, they forget their own acts contribute substantially in painting a picture of, which they call, “unjustices”. Why we’re being so enormously hypocrite on the name of the de facto “national interests”?

Today, during the speech of Altaf Hussain which was directed to the people of Punjab particularly, Altaf Hussain ardently iterated that those who chanted slogan of ‘Roti, Kapra aur Makan’ (food, clothing and shelter) have given nothing to the people in past 62 years.

On one side Altaf Hussain is telling to the people of Pakistan about the fraud PPP that is doing nothing for the people of Pakistan, yet on the other hand what we see is that Altaf Hussain and his party has always been supportive of the PPP government. More big is the fact that it was MQM who supported Asif Ali Zardari during the presidential election in the provincial and national assemblies with all its locally mighty force. Then I ask, why Altaf Hussain is crying over a spilt milk when his and his party’s actions can’t actually be justified realistically. Logical justifications are declared void. Logics are algorithms which everyone can design one; it has no value in real.

Does this not prove MQM has always been playing fake demagoguery politics by killing two birds with a single stone? On one side MQM supports the wrong in order that to gain sympathies of political generals and other doozy political champions who bring MQM the joy — blessings of ministries — the power, on the other side it talks against the same party whom they’ve been supporting always and ever, directly and indirectly, since it’s founded.

So, is this really what we call ‘politics of principles’? The major and mainstream political parties of Pakistan are the chip of the same block. The relentless unprincipled politics has proved a lot bad for Pakistan.

Caution to the people of Pakistan, specially Punjab: Please be wise in choosing your options. MQM and the likes of it — the PPP, PML-N, ANP etc. — are bad for the health of Pakistan. Can we, for once, demand for principled politics in the country, please?

Ban Students Political Wings — II

Punjab University New Campus

Punjab University New Campus

If you can’t manage things, can’t put it in order while working on it for years, step down; because it proves your inadequacy. Yes, this is the right choice.

When Hafiz Hassaan Butt, Naazim of Islami Jamiat-e-Talba (IJT) in Punjab University, claimed that the student wing of Jammat-e-Islami, the IJT, has cancelled the membership of the two Jammiat guys named Hafiz Wajid Aurangzeb and Usman Ashraf, who were factually involved in the the pounding of Dr. Iftikhar Baloch, Hafiz Salman Butt again failed to mention why such shabby incidents still take place in the different universities of Pakistan where correspondingly the IJT ’students’ cum stalwarts are the ones responsible each time, or nearly most of the time.

Let’s rewind this whole thing to few days back when the mishap in Punjab University took place. There were initial reports based on the hearsay evidences from IJT stalwarts and the other easily tempted people that Dr. Iftikhar Baloch was actually committing adultery in his office. Almost all the IJT stalwarts I know, God knows intentionally or unintentionally, didn’t incline to accept that the ill-educated cruel-hearted guys beating hell out of a teacher were belonging to Jammiat; they didn’t even accept initially that even few, if not all 50/60 who were beating the professor, were from IJT. This was the first strong lie of IJT officials caught live during the initial study of the event.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Dr. Iftikhar Baloch was really committing the adultery. Then why’s that the IJT officials aren’t seen bringing this news out in front of the media projector, or how come this strong news left out without even a wee bit of coverage over the media? Media is biased many times, this is true. But this is even a more truthful fact that Pakistani media — well, most of it — doesn’t leave any opportune moments to broadcast the spicy newses in order that to combust the controversy more. It’s the favorite habit of media.

First thing first: which law, Islamic or constitutional, gives the right to the Jammiat guys or any guy to beat Dr. Iftikhar Baloch even if he was said to have his hands in the unchastened acts?

The problem in Pakistani educational institutes isn’t all about the IJT, APMSO, PSF etc. students political wings; it’s not even about the quality of education alone. It’s also about the maintenance of the objectives — the strict law and order situation within the university premises. The uncalled for chaos in the educational institutes is yet another generous failure of the government — both the federal and the provincial. The closing of an educational institute for 17 days isn’t a good sign of prosperity. 17 days are quite too much.

No where in any developing country in the world it happens that the faculty members are maltreated in a way like in Pakistan.

Hafiz Salman Butt, the Nazim of IJT in Punjab University, benevolently said that IJT has annulled the membership of those Jammiat guys who thrashed the professor. Easier said, as a wee bit of attempt to lower the indexes of people pointing heavily at the IJT. Hafiz Salman Butt, while employing such a trick, actually made a failed attempt to purify Islami Jammiat-e-Talba, simultaneously the parent party Jammat-e-Islami. Might I ask what are the steps taken by the concerned political party and its student’s wing to avert such an event — where IJT bods are involved — in the future? Annulling their membership alone isn’t going to yield any lucrative outcome, or is it?

Just as I hinted in the very beginning, if the things can’t be managed by the IJT officials or any student’s political wing, they sure need to pick up their setup from the educational institutes. Not doing so, we may see more of such catastrophes in the educational institutes. Please spare the universities. The place is not meant to be the political strongholds of students. After all, I yet don’t understand why can’t the provincial governments or the federal government depoliticize the educational institutes and let there be solely one representation of students, the Students Union, yet apolitical. This is how the structure of students representation is in the ameliorative countries.

Hypocrites On The Loose

MQM's Hypocritical Rally Against Talibans

MQM's Hypocritical Rally Against Talibans

The above picture exposes the hypocrisy of MQM, and the likes of hypocrite political parties who protest only when it serves any good purpose to them. MQM has never put into practice any protestation rally in favor of “Missing Persons”, Dr. Aafia Siddui, or the Drone Attacks. Why? Reasons are, which I learn from the stalwarts of MQM, quite silly. Most of the time they don’t respond coherently, rather beat around the bush. If the MQM, PML-N and others are so very sincere to the nation, respect the dignity of the citizens and oppose the heinous acts such as the ones mentioned above, they should be protesting like they do for other things purely relevant to their party politics.

Interesting is the thing that the supporters of MQM immediately came out of the closet to the roads of Karachi last year to protest against the alleged flogging of the 17 year old girl by Talibans in Swat. The video is now proved fake. But it was and it is the MQM who always need a wee excuse even to bash the Talibans, the extremists. They really don’t miss any opportune moment at anytime in Pakistan. Whereas, these yahoos, the MQM walas and the likes, are the other kind of extremists who work solely for the personal political agenda and personal benefit, not for the awaam’s benefit. They’re the sanctimonious ones who virtually should be ashamed of calling themselves humans, let alone Pakistanis.

These champions of democracy didn’t support one of the clause of LFO — which was brought by veteran president Musharraf — that made the internal party elections indispensable by law. Astonishing thing, isn’t it?

From the other point of view, the obsession of ANP to change the name of province is unshakeable. It shocked me when I heard one ANP spokesman saying: “why so much fuss, just few are killed”, while citing the indiscriminate firing event in Abbottabad that killed nearly 8 protestors who were demonstrating against the name change of NWFP. Is he, the ANP yahoo who uttered such a nonsense, a human, really?

Let’s come to the Mian Sahib, the another champion of democracy and principled politics. What’s his stance on the issue of “Missing Persons”? How powerfully has he demonstrated in favor of Missing Persons like he does at Raiwand at different occasions?

Last, but not the least is the party calls itself the advocate of Bhutto. Jamshed Dasti, the MNA, who was elected from NA-178 Muzaffargarh on the ticket of PPP resigned on 25th March of last month as he was found guilty of holding a fake degree in MA Islamic Studies. But quite startlingly, after few days of sitting at home, Jamshed Dasti is again given with the PPP ticket. Such a shame that a person caught posing MA in Islamic Studies, a fake degree, is still considered eligible to contest elections. Where is the morality? Are the good moral people, better than the Jamshed Dasti, lacking in the PPP, or there never were any?

These are some of the brief instances on the mainstream political parties call themselves the champions of democracy in Pakistan. There are a legion of such hypocrisies to outline, but guess these would do for the moment. Quite deplorably, we hide these facts from our own selves. Why can’t we come out of the party politics shell for sometime and think about the Pakistan as a whole?

Book Review — Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths

Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths -- by Karen Armstrong

Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths -- by Karen Armstrong

This is a review of the book “Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths” which I’m reading these days. The book is sure interesting and written unbiasedly by Karen Armstrong.

Karen Armstrong is an Oxford Graduate in Literature. She has served as a Nun for 7 years in Roman Catholic Church. The best thing about her way of explaining things in the book is that it’s completely free from any favoritism or bias in regards with any religion which are the subject of the book — Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

Karen Armstrong, in her book “Jerusalem: One City, Three Faiths”, rejects the idea of Jews who claim that Jerusalem is more holy for them than it’s in any other religion. She argues, which is rightly so, that it’s difficult to trace who were the real inhabitants of the city when it was populated thousands of years ago. On the other hand, she highlights the significance of the Jerusalem in regards with all three religions — all of them asserting that the city is more holiest to them than any other religion.

To be sure, Karen Armstrong suggests that the book is merely an attempt to find out what Jews, Christians and Muslims have meant when they have said that the city is “holy” to them and to point out some of the implications of Jerusalem’s sanctity in each tradition. You might feel to be one from the ancient times while reading it.

At one place she argues that she understands why the city is holy for Christians, because it’s the place where Christianity was born, and it’s the place where Hazrat Esa AS was crucified. Then she argues that Islam was born a thousand miles away from the Jerusalem in the deserts of Arab; whereas Judaism was born a thousand miles away from the Jerusalem in the deserts of Sinai, in Egypt. She raises the question that why Jews believe other mounts as more holy than the Mount Sinai where the holy book was bestowed on Hazrat Moosa AS. Later, she argues that the city is equally holy for the Muslims and for the Jews like it’s for the Christians. The Prophets sent to the Jerusalem — Hazrat Suleman AS, Hazrat Dawood AS, Hazrat Esa AS and so on — are equally respectable for each of the three religions.

To learn more about the history of Jerusalem and the historical facts on it regarding all three religions, this is a good book to read.