the great escape

I look around and eye the **exit** my great escape, the red flashing sign, the word EXIT, written up, loud and clear, I eye it. And I make a run for it. The two hosts grab me before I even take a step, each with one arm locked into mine, they **crack a joke** about me, the audience laughs. They hand me a metal statuette, I hold it --the heaviest thing I’ve ever held on to-- it falls through the stage, through the wooden floor, with me holding tightly onto it, through and through. “Ladies and gentlemen we just witnessed **a great escape** for the first time in the history of this event, has the winner escaped in such a dramatic fashion, and without giving a speech either.”

Saturday, June 13

Security (in) Security

The number of suicide bombers supposedly loose in the city at a given time are broadcast on news-ticker marquees at traffic lights, fueling a further angst in the hearts of people waiting for the light to turn green. I have often heard people questioning why the security agencies fail to apprehend these individuals despite all the advance intelligence they go around flaunting. It seems right now there are two opposing apparatuses of force operating in and around the cities of Pakistan: one supposed to be providing security, enforcing law, and ensuring order; the other producing insecurity, creating discord, and generating chaos. Ironically it seems the latter is better equipped, more motivated, and with far superior training compared to its sluggish target.

As it stands now, it seems even the providers of security are feeling the chill of insecurity. All the streets leading to the cantonment area of Lahore were barricaded for more than an hour the morning after the attacks on the Rescue 15 building, causing the heavy Monday morning traffic to be piled up all over the main streets. The reason provided for the blockade by police officials was a 'V.V.I.P movement' underway at that time. It was later revealed that this so called 'very, very important person' was none other than General Ashfaq Pervaiz Kaiyani, the Chief of Army Staff of the Pakistan Army, who apparently doesn't feel that safe driving down the main streets of Lahore in broad daylight any more.

Last weekend the Lahore Police had set up a makeshift check-post on the Main Boulevard of Lahore where I was stopped at 3AM. Instead of being on the lookout for suspicious looking vehicles carrying large amounts of explosives and/or militant operatives, these supposed defenders of justice were stopping the Saturday night post-party crowd hoping to make a few hundred rupees in the form of bribes from young drunk drivers. I asked the officer trying to smell alcohol off my breath while searching for bits of hashish on my person, if there weren't bigger things the police should be concerned about, to which he dutifully replied, “Terrorism isn't the only crime we're supposed to be eradicating”.