A couple of days ago the man named Sikander rolled up a couple of kilometers from the Parliament house with family and two machine guns and started indiscriminately firing in the air. He eventually settled down, and then the police force, rangers, anti-terrorist squad, and curious onlookers surrounded his car and put up roadblocks. The word on the street was they wanted to take him alive and not use lethal force. The country got comfy and sat down to watch. As we watched and waited, we assumed that the police had a game plan which they would carry out any minute now. We waited for 5 hours.
After 5 hours, a tubby politician entered the stage and lunged at Sikander in one of the worst disarming attempts ever caught on camera. It would have been funny had it not been so incredibly reckless. Sikander was eventually taken down, shot in the chest, the ass, the legs. His wife got a bullet for her troubles. He was swarmed by the police, rangers, and anti-terrorist squad once he was down, who fired victory shots in the air and kicked him a few times. His wife got a punch in her face too. They were dragged to an ambulance and sent on their way. The crowd dispersed, wowed at what just happened, and the media continued their chatter through to the next day.
I want to thank you, Sikander. You singlehandedly tore through the perceived order and exposed our forces for the goofy nincompoops they really are. You showed us how unsafe we are under their ‘protection’. You illustrated for us that the thullas are not to be trusted for much more than stopping cars and searching them for alcohol or asking for bribes.
According to our interior minister, the reason they stood around for 5 hours was because a) Sikander was just a crazy guy who didn’t pose any risk, b) we wanted to take him alive, and if we shot at him there was the risk that he would shoot back at us, and c) the media and onlookers weren’t letting us perform an ‘operation’.
Let’s examine these a little closely.
Firstly, dear interior minister, how does one ascertain the level of riskiness of an individual? Call me crazy, but a guy toting two semi-automatic rifles, and firing them, with questionable mental health, in one of the central locations of the city, with a wife and children who he labeled as being expendable, seems to be a pretty dangerous dude. What more did he have to do to be considered officially ‘dangerous’? And your claims that he just wanted his son released from prison and a job at an embassy are untrue. Based on his phone interview during the 5 hour reality show, he was an Islamist who wanted the government ousted. And he was making his anarchist demands at the points of two guns. Again, call me crazy, but that sounds pretty dangerous to me. Textbook dangerous even.
Secondly, you said that “it would have been easy to fire at him, but there was no guarantee he wouldn’t have fired back”. That’s a very valid concern Sir, thanks. Call me crazy, but isn’t that part of a police officer’s job description? There is always going to be the risk that a crazy/Islamist man with guns might fire them at you, and isn’t dealing with those situations why the armed forces exist in the first place? Isn’t that why we are supposed to have well trained officers, and at the very least a couple of sharpshooters in the nation’s capitol? Also, if you didn’t want to be shot back at and were instead waiting for the opportune moment to take him out, you could have picked your favorite out of the many choices: Sikander smoking, Sikander drinking red bull, Sikander walking around with the guns dangling at his sides, Sikander talking on the phone, Sikander taking a piss – where he put his guns down altogether. But let’s face it; you weren’t there Minister saab. The people on the ground were afflicted with some manner of the bystander effect. And that’s kind of cool if you’re a bystander, but not so cool if you’re the fucking police.
Thirdly, regarding the media. I agree with you, they are sensationalist assholes for the most part. But are we really using them as an excuse now so we don’t have to perform our duties? Simple mathematics says there were more police present than media folk; you could have pushed them back if you wanted. Why have you allowed ‘the media’ to have such power over you? Because you didn’t want to send the wrong message? What of the message you are sending instead, to actual armed and dangerous terrorist organizations who were watching yesterday? Also, I’ve heard no ‘operation’ could be performed because the crowd had closed in and weren’t giving your men ample space. Perhaps we need our forces to learn a few more operations when dealing with threats in crowded urban areas then, no?
I would have had none of these complaints and gone on blogging about Zen and the Art of Wading Through the Bullshit had it played out differently, had the police or the rangers or someone actually executed a plan. But at the end it was Zamarud Khan, the politician, who clumsily but bravely put a stop to it all. The Interior Minister calls for the suspension of the officials who let him through. Fair enough, go ahead and suspend them. But please don’t use that as a way to wash your hands off the whole thing and cling to a sense of control which isn’t really there. Them letting him through shows that no one was really in charge on the ground, and points to the fact that there may not even have been a plan. You know things are bad when deploying kamikaze politician starts sounding like a good idea.
Something tells me a few people will be fired, a narrative will be built which is easy to digest, and we’ll go on living our lives and forget the whole thing. But the hard truth of the matter is that our ‘security’ forces in the most important area of the country are severely, tragically lacking. This was a single incident and thankfully ended okay, but we won’t always be so lucky. Please Interior Minister, learn the lessons you ought to, stop hiding behind excuses and shaky justifications, and get these guys to start doing their fuckin’ jobs. Because you can bet your poofy hair that many disagreeable sorts around the country are getting all sorts of disagreeable ideas right about now.