Not so long ago I found myself standing by a roadside shop as the convoy for His Highness, our prime minister rolled onto the stretch of road leading into DHA. There were two Jawans on fat Suzuki motorcycles leading the entourage, making me wonder what kind of an idiot would place such vulnerable targets as the first line of defense against an attack. I praised the courage of those two gentlemen who had put their lives on the line in the defense of a man who certainly does not deserve such courtesy but also pitied them for the kind of pressures under the weight of which they were willing to suffer such an indignity.
Following the two motorcyclists was a Toyota Pick up, bursting at the seams with uniformed guardians of the law ready and perhaps also willing to fight any would-be assailants to the death, provided they all did not perish in a well aimed rocket/grenade strike on their vehicle. Again, I marveled at the sheer intelligence which must be credited for crafting such a tantalizing target for anyone with half a mind to spread terror amongst the masses, oh just the cost effectiveness of it was a stroke of brilliance! One singular rocket, and you take out almost half the battalion assigned to protect the unworthy. Needless to say that once that vehicle has been rendered out of commission, the one following it, the first of three fully re-enforced billion rupee Mercedes sedans would have no where to go but straight into the wreckage. Or it would have to stop, causing the rest of the entourage trailing it to stop, or scramble, causing sheer bedlam because I’m absolutely certain the genius in charge of security detail would not have bothered to think up a contingency plan since he either doesn’t care enough about his royal highness to expend that much effort on planning for his secure transportation or he simply figured that Allah Khair karay Ga (God will protect him).
Behind the three black Benz Sedans came two more pick ups loaded with armed personnel of the police force and these even had machine gun turrets mounted on them. Why these pickups have an attack configuration in a dense urban area is beyond me, because if they were required to open fire they couldn’t possibly manage to miss all of the citizens of the state spread all around the area, including me. I would think they would go with Armored Personnel carriers so that they could withstand any possible attack from assailants and launch a more surgical counter strike than going apeshit behind the trigger of a .50 caliber widow maker. Not that a surgical counter attack could really help save the dignitary actually, considering how easy it would be for anyone with an agenda to mix in with the huge crowd gathered on the side lines after having discreetly deployed a grenade. In fact, it would be even easier for a terrorist to simply hole up in one of the multitude of multi-story buildings with a rocket launcher or an armor-piercing sniper rifle and take out the entire convoy with impunity.
I mentioned my reservations to the car battery guy whose shop I was at and in response he offered me the kind of smile you spare for an ignorant child. “Sir jee,” he said, “yeh maarnay walay hain, marnay walay nahin.” They are the killers not the ones who can be killed. Wisdom from a 4 by 6 road-side stall owner. He knows that the whole convoy thing is just for show, just to appease the enormous ego of the VIP who by the sheer extent of his immorality has managed to acquire enough power to demand an entourage for himself even when he knows that nothing untoward can possibly happen unless he has ordered it.
They drove fast. Maybe at around 100 kilometers per hour which meant they took about 10 odd seconds to disappear from my field of vision. A rocket , I imagine, travels much faster and would take maybe slightly more than a second to hit its mark. Even if the assailant were to miss, he would have up to ten tries to fix his mistake and would in the process eliminate quite a bit of the periphery, including innocent bystanders. Where then were the roof-top snipers who would indubitably serve as the most daunting deterrent for anyone but a suicide bomber? And exactly what precautions had been taken to circumvent against a suicide attack? None, I think. I don’t even think we have trained snipers amongst our elite police force, all we have our smooth talking bribe-takers too fat to even give chase to an escaping assailant.
How then could we possibly expect to provide adequate security for the visiting Sri Lankan team? Who, by the way, performed the most meaningful gesture of good will for Pakistani sports in history by filling a spot left vacant by the Indians and risked their lives to show the world that Pakistan deserves to be trusted. I would imagine that such a gesture, besides drawing tears from the eyes of every Pakistani, would also draw out the most elaborate, the most fool proof, the most intelligent of logistics plan from the defunct brains of our so called senior officials. I would have thought that if nothing else, the Sri Lankans would at least earn a bullet-proof vehicle for their transportation (maybe those billion rupee sedans?) . What we got instead was a highly questionable route change which was obviously communicated to the terrorists (probably by some high ranking official), our own team departing uncharacteristically 5 minutes later than the Sri Lankans, a slip shod convoy and an almost willful effort at actually exposing the Sri Lankans to an assault. It’s so easy to pretend that we are not responsible under the current climate of political instability and rampant terrorism, but at least we could have tried harder to protect the only people in the world willing to risk their lives to uphold our reputation. Greater shame has not been known by Pakistan, this really is the worst we have ever been. I hope Allah khair karay ga, but I don’t think he cares anymore.