You’ve all probably seen the entire joke of the year lasting a good 5 hours on the streets of Islamabad, Pakistan, streamed right to your tellies. A few of my friends even commented that probably cinema crowds may have reduced thanks to the live action movie on the streets.
Here’s my take on the entire scenario, and I’ll be brutal about the entire scenario since this is how I see it.
Reportedly, the gun-totting person in the picture below is Sikandar, a bodyguard (former or current, not sure) of Bakhtawar, daughter of Benazir Bhutto and Asif Zardari. Kanwal, Sikandar’s wife is almost family with Zamarud Khan, a person close to the Bhutto-Zardari family. These are based on the reports I’ve seen so far from various sources, they can be false, so this is a disclaimer.
We’ve been seeing lots of shoot outs in Karachi over the years, and especially situations like this are handled very tactfully and the perpetrator taken down without much of a fuss. However, in Islamabad, the episode outran every possible movie duration, I mean a whole 5 hours. More importantly, the so-called free media was after their ratings like dogs chasing a cat down the street.
Here’s what I think should have happened:
The SSP who went up to Sikandar to hear him out or negotiate, could have just gone a bit close and slapped / punched Sikandar real hard. Policemen are trained to take matters in their hands and can take a man down if they have to with their bare hands. Nothing happened here, he came back listening to him.
Sikandar was roaming around outside his car with his guns in his hands. A sniper or even a relative sharp-shooter from one of the police could have just stunned him by shooting at the gun in Sikandar’s hands, making him drop the guns. The police could just move in and take him down, without hurting anyone.
It is well known here in Karachi that when someone blocks a road unnecessarily, some hot shot’s guard or himself would turn up with a gun on his belt, and start questioning what’s the issue. And more importantly, they’d just slap the road blocker real hard to get them out of the way. A ranger or police officer in plain clothes could have just done that and gotten away with it.
A sniper could have easily shot and injured Sikandar’s hands thus subduing him, without causing any further damage and getting rid of the issue altogether within an hour at best.
Just get a few policemen to charge towards the car pointing their guns directly at Sikandar, and firing his hand if he tried to draw his gun to shoot.
There could be a few more scenarios played out, each reducing the time of the incident. Zamarud Khan’s presence was counted as a political points score for PPP since he was their man, and reports say that they claim even when they’re not in power it was their man who took matters in his own hands. Such a shame!
In all of the above, I don’t see what part did media play except add live action entertainment value of a brutal kind right in everyone’s homes. The media does not have any code of conduct or respect for humanity. There were several far more important issues at hand that could have been covered, such as the floods in Southern Punjab, the incessant killing in Egypt, or Burma etc. All they do is set fire by sensationalizing every small piece of news.
The very next day after the scene in Islamabad, there was a firing incident at the headquarters of Express TV in Karachi. One of their employees got injured. The people over there were more interested in getting the story covered on camera and putting it up on the ticker, than providing first aid to the injured and taking her to the hospital as fast as possible. This is what the media does, sell everything, at the cost of moral values and ethics if it has to.
The media reps on the field and the people gathered should have been asked to go away long before. When they were asked to move in the late evening, they started misbehaving first, and were then forced to move out. PEMRA had already issued a notification to stop airing the news so the authorities could take action. But why would the media stop when they were in a dog race? Would they listen? This is exactly what Musharraf was trying to sort out in his day, ultimately it was the media who turned him into a villian.
This was a situation that should never have gone beyond an hour, and the media should have been kept out of it by force if needed. If they covered any news, PEMRA should have issued a notification to block all communications in the area and of the channels who were covering the story. PEMRA should have then issued a legal notice to all channels for violating / not following orders from the authority. It may have been so-called “undemocratic”, but this is how you play when people start being “jaahil”, ie ignorant of moral values, ethics and a respect for a code of conduct and law.