What’s he banning now? by Masood hasan

In the shadowy, spook-infested underworld of criminals and terrorists where Herr Senator and Interior Minister, Mr Rehman Malik moves about in unmarked, black-tinted vehicles, every bush is suspect. Shrubs are seen to be but carefully camouflaged time bombs and flower pots, long regarded as terrorist agents, primed to blow up on planned and intricately timed systems rendering the country immobile and everything we know, asunder.
It is easy to become a victim of your innermost fears and shortcomings and start believing that the solutions lie with you and only you and that measures forced down the gullet are designed to eliminate the problems wherever they may exist. Mr Malik has foisted upon this unfortunate nation a string of measures and rules that have only made us more fragile and frightened. In his book, there is no complicated mathematics involved and no serious attempt at cause and effect. Instead of mulling over such things with quality time, it is more a case of ‘jump now, talk later.’ And this is how it pans out.

Supposing some day a professional sleuth whispers in Herr Malik’s ear that the drinking of milk is the real reason the terrorists are multiplying, it would take no more than a few nano seconds for Herr Malik to string everything together. Since milk comes from cows and such like creatures, remove them from the farms. Place them elsewhere, doesn’t matter where – the National Institute of Strategic Studies, the National Assembly or the hills of beloved Islamabad. No cows, no milk, no terrorism. QED. Should there still be milk produced by nefarious agents with their own agenda, ban the transport and drinking of milk with immediate effect. Out would go thousands of carts, pickups, trucks, motorcycles and bicycles and in would come peace and tranquility. Terrorism, already with an established milk connection, would be eliminated in one fell swoop.

Perhaps Herr Malik has arrived on this planet ahead of his time because no one quite understands what he wants to do, though the only protest citizens make when they see him warning the nation on TV, where he usually spends his time when not traveling overseas to save the world, is to flinch with pain and take a deep breath. What’s Malik banning now they ask? Breathing? He should certainly ban it in most of Pakistan, particularly dust-laden cities like Lahore where scum passes for smog and the ordinary folk choke and struggle for breath on any given day at any given hour. Quite recently he, based on ‘confidential and well placed’ intelligence, banned mobile phone services. There have been so many loony orders like this one that I, at least, cannot remember what the fuss was all about. Was it a Pakistan-India clash in some tournament or was it Eid or was it the president’s birthday. Whatever, wham came the ban and the hopes of the terrorists were crushed. They spent the whole day sulking, looking at ‘No Service’ signs. Earlier YouTube got the Herr Malik treatment. Because it broadcast a blasphemous and horribly produced sort-of-film made by a mentally sick man out on parole and not Francis Ford Coppola, YouTube was banned and remains banned.

Countries were held responsible with the good Malik not once saying that they were not responsible. Anyone who has seen a computer at close quarters or talked to a human being instead of a tree, would know that the internet is out there far above in the sky, beyond the rising fringe of Malik Sahib’s latest Afro hairdo and that there is damn all governments can do to prevent the millions of sites from beaming out any content. It may well be the wish of all patriotic and green-caked Pakistanis to have squeaky clean Internet that sings their praises but sadly this is not possible.

This week Herr Malik, back from yet another trip – does anyone know where all he goes all the time – pronounced the three divorces on bike-riding in bike-infested Karachi. Malik Sahib felt that terrorists would be riding bikes while spreading terrorism. That is a great deduction. One has heard that terrorists also use Suzuki Mehran cars. It might be a good idea to ban these too because if one terrorist group has used the Mehran, what’s stopping the others from following suit? Pickup trucks with carelessly thrown tarpaulins have often carried more bombs than bricks and ridden through dozens of barriers where the security boys have cheerfully waved them on, so we should ban all trucks and such like. Now that some women terrorists have been spotted in an operation, it should be plain to understand that women can be terrorists. Thus any woman seen on a public road must be stopped and thoroughly questioned and divested of the flower pot she is determined not to hand over. Soon enough half the population – women – will be eliminated and our worries reduced.

Herr Malik’s revolutionary step aimed to stop the terrorists in their tracks was foiled by the Sindh High Court with its chief justice suspending the directive of the interior ministry. Mr Malik had earlier claimed that he had prior information that the bad guys will strike riding motorbikes but he did not share what bikes they would actually be riding this past Friday. He also warned the nation that no one would be exempted from the ban, which has me flummoxed but then I don’t quite follow often what the brilliant minister for interior says. Malik Sahib said that use of vehicles without proper documentation was strictly banned. This is also a brilliant move.

All day long during Muharram and well into the night police will stop cars and begin the laborious task of checking the documents. First, there is little to check. Most citizens don’t carry originals because they fear their vehicle is bound to be stolen or forcibly taken and they would lose the original papers. Second, who will check the papers and how? Most cops and members of Malik Sahib’s A Team are illiterate and would have a hard time affixing a thumb print on a large page. And what will they really check? Open the hood and see if the engine and chassis numbers match what the papers claim? Another failed Malik measure is what I see.

Most of us are unable to comprehend how this so-termed security system works. The entire country is barrier-infected. There are sharp and dangerous looking spiky structures everywhere swarming with men with whom a conversation like ‘A is for?’ would be hard to manage. As commuters play zig-zag through a maze of sharp turns and impossible spaces, barely squeezing through, the men at the posts view them with dull eyes and imperiously wave them on. What they determine is not known. How many terrorists were nabbed at such posts is not known. And yet the boys from the badlands saunter across and blow up buildings whilst whistling the latest ditty from Bollywood.

The brave faujis have taken matters further. They are quite happy if you don’t come to where they live and work and delighted when you get out. Hence all the check points are where you are entering their world. If you are leaving, good riddance is in the air. Within their special world, entire roads have been gobbled up, huge gates and such like constructed, fortresses guarding fortresses and still they want more security measures. There is now talk of a super-duper intel agency to probe all other agencies. Wow sir, wow.

As for real security for the real people of this country, ask the first person you meet on the street and you will hear the truth. Herr Malik needs to do some reality checks otherwise it will confirm forever that all these measures are for the self-preservation of the elite and ‘Security of the People’ is the biggest hogwash that’s ever been thrust down this nation’s gullet.

The writer is a Lahore-based columnist. Email: masoodhasan66@gmail.com


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