- Feb 23, 2009
Terror, terror everywhere
The coordinated attacks on security infrastructure which went on for a week gave Pakistan a real taste of an insurgent backlash to violent conflict. Over the weekend, amidst security threats to educational institutions, ranging from schools to universities, the media speculated over whether these would close down in order to avoid an ugly hostage situation. There seemed to be some confusion on Monday morning, with headlines claiming that all private schools would remain open in Lahore, ‘including those in cantonment and DHA.’ But by night time, the government had done a 180, announcing that in fact schools across the country would remain closed for the entire week. Though I’m sure no student would complain about a week-long vacation, these mild, curfew-like restrictions suggest that this is the point when the country’s internal conflict gets a little too close for comfort to everyday life, instead of just being something you watch on the television screen.
It was City 42, a news channel, that reported that LUMS (yes, I dare mention LUMS, after all that) would shut down after the blasts at IIU in Islamabad, making the administration’s still-pending decision a self-fulfilling prophecy after students assumed the news to be true. LUMS students were upbeat however, knowing that they had no readings, quizzes, or assignments due. ‘They [the students] don’t care about theses security issues,’ says Haider Fancy, a senior at LUMS. ‘They just want to get the next week off, and not have to go to class, that’s all they care about.’ But not everyone can be so detached. ‘These freshmen are crazy,’ exclaims a slightly more concerned senior, ‘with all this security mess, they’re out on campus celebrating.’
The warden at the female hostel of Beaconhouse National University seemed to be way ahead of the game than the wobbly policies of the LUMS administration. Students living at the hostel claim that the warden had been calling parents up and ‘freaking them out,’ in a sort of polite way to inform concerned parents that ‘they’ were responsible for their daughters’ safety, and not the entrusted hostel administration. As early as last weekend, many hostel residing students got concerned calls from parents all over Pakistan, worried for their children’s safety. Indeed, it seems this sensational propaganda laden ‘war of terror’ has gotten to our nerves.
LUMS students received a security update on their lively email server, warning students that terrorists ‘could take control of their cars’ and use them to execute attacks. If that doesn’t get you a little edgy, the government has been investigating text messages claiming that terrorists might be able to hack into an unsuspected caller’s phone so that when he presses a key to dial a number he detonates a bomb which could bring down a building. (On a side note, wouldn’t everyone agree that the scene would make a great ad for a cell phone provider? The voiceover could say, ‘Now introducing new explosive pre-paid packages, which might put your security, and the security of others around you at risk’ over the backdrop of a three-way split-screen conversation between a man, his wife, and… a terrorist!)
So with all this news of evil, scheming terrorists taking control of strange foreign objects through these ‘Jedi mind-tricks’ which they seem to have mastered in the past few months, I’m afraid of using the lota in my bathroom because it just might be used to launch an attack on some unsuspecting target. Oh what shall we do? Now as a nation we’ll have to conform to the toilet-paper scraping ways of the West. Oh will the Lord finally intervene?
But seriously, the South Waziristan campaign has hardly raged on for a week and it’s already hit home. For a nation with strong resolve, we sure wobble like jelly when the baddies up the ante. This time we don’t even have a highly unexpected Twenty-20 Cricket World Cup win to distract us from the tense fighting and the whip-lashed responses which seem to compromise our security and impinge on our liberties. And now the media surely can’t say that we will defeat those terrorists just like we defeated the teams of cricketing nations around the world.
Indeed, even the media seems to have come under threat lately. Yes, the same media which provides the very stage for these operations, which in turn seem almost tailormade for television (20 minutes of serious operation, 10 minutes of advertisement). Reports suggest that various media outlets have received terrifying threats from these so-called terrorists, threatening to blow this complex media infrastructure we’ve built so diligently sky-high, unless anchors stop calling them ‘terrorists,’ ‘insurgents,’ and all those other bad, bad things they’ve been calling them.
Silly media, you forget so easily, they were ‘mujahids’ just a decade ago, get with the programme! And to think General Pervez Musharraf did all this hard work to free up the media so that private opinions may thrive and democracy may flourish, and this is what you do with your freedom? Terrorists should be called ‘mujahids’ and their death should be referred to as ‘martyrdom,’ not the other way around where security jawans are the martyrs while militants just end up getting ‘killed’ or ‘slain.’ Have some courtesy, media, or they’ll come after you, taking control of people’s remote controls and television sets to launch deadly attacks on you. Beware!
So, as it stands right now, it seems this media blitz and the culture of freaking others out while being freaked out yourself is going to be short-lived, or at least the government would like to think so. Schools are set to re-open on Monday: either the government is expecting the military to be done with its important war aims, significantly affecting the ability of terrorists to plan and carry out attacks over the weekend, or they’re going to take this time to bolster security at places where the daily functioning of everyday life might be at risk of being attacked by sensationalism-starved, media-hungry terrorists. Or, in a possible third scenario, perhaps the government hasn’t actually thought of doing squat, and is just expecting normal life to resume after the weekend when all this nonsense hubbub about guerrillas and terrorists has blown over. Perhaps everyone will casually just forget about all of it. Maybe we should be the ones learning some of those ‘mind-tricks’ to hang on to our very sanity in these times of hyper-paranoia.
Awesome Blogpost. :goodstuff: