Wednesday, May 21, 2014

The Officer's Advice

By Waseem Altaf
The fact that Hamid Mir received six bullets on his body is no more an issue. That Hayatullah, Musa Khankhel and Saleem Shahzad were brutally murdered was never an issue either. How terrorists infiltrated into airbases at Mahran and Kamra and the GHQ never caused a dent in the “dignity” of those responsible, nor did the mass surrender during 1971 war and the crushing defeat in Kargil ever shamed the ones involved. And nobody ever bothered how the disastrous effects of military rule for nearly half the life of this country played havoc with state institutions and impacted the society.
But when the brother of a man fighting for his life accused “an institution” and the picture of an army general was flashed on the TV screens, all hell broke loose.
It disturbed so many in the sacred land while the “dignity” of an institution was held at stake- and it was a national issue!
It perturbed everybody from anchorman Mubashar Luqman to terrorist Hafiz Saeed, to traders to groups of lawyers to Mullah Qadri and Imran Khan who came on the streets; being associates of the “powers that be” they were fully mobilized.
Advertisements with names of fake associations were splashed on national dailies, banners were hoisted praising ISI and army with pictures of serving generals and entire media groups were deployed to denounce Geo.
And today some extremely cheap measures are being employed. Right from severing cables of operators showing Geo to pressurizing private members of PEMRA to ban Geo to implicating its workers in a blasphemy case, every abhorable step is being taken by those who demand the nations’ unconditional respect.

The way the most organized institution of the state is behaving is pathetic. It’s like how a newly recruited cadet behaves with a policeman on a traffic violation. Unfortunately they never mature. Right from the rank and file to top leadership they exhibit the same immature behavior.
And they think that nobody understands who is behind Sarwat Qadri and Tahir Qadri, Imran Khan and Hafiz Saeed. Go to a barber shop and people are discussing ISI; such utter humiliation of a state institution. I recall its not long ago when nobody would even mention ISI during a discussion and today the talk of the town is the tussle between a private limited company vis-à-vis the army and ISI.
A British Superintendent of Police during pre-partition Lahore was wiser.
It so happened that a police officer by the name of Qurban Ali Shah was shopping in civvies at Anarkali Lahore when he spotted a policeman beating a tongawala with a lash, who had apparently made a traffic violation. He went to the policeman and without introducing himself asked him to stop that for beating someone like that was illegal. “Babu, mind your own business or I will do the same with you” was the constable's response. The officer noted the identification number of the constable from his belt and left the place. He had thought of teaching him a lesson for insulting him.
In office, when he went to see his boss, an Englishman, he narrated the whole incident. He also informed him of his intention to “discipline” the policeman.
“Well you are a Superintendent of Police (SP) and have all the powers to punish the constable but let me tell you something” asserted the British officer. Only you know and I know that a constable insulted an SP and none else. Tomorrow when you will punish him, the entire Lahore police will come to know that a constable defied an SP. And let me say that not you but the constable would emerge as the hero. SP Qurban Ali Shah got the logic and immediately dropped the idea.
Any lapse on part of Geo could have been downplayed and a graceful apology on behalf of the company was sufficient. But today the army and the ISI are feverishly after a private limited company called Independent Media Corporation. They want to teach it a lesson. While completely oblivious of consumer rights, they want a complete ban on its transmission. Though the maximum they can achieve is a partial ban in cantonment areas.
In the process the khakis have completely forgotten that Geo is gaining everybody’s sympathies and that it would emerge as the hero out of this mess while the losers are all set to lose another war.
No doubt it was due to their farsightedness and wisdom that the sun never set on the British Empire.
Waseem Altaf

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