The spy that ‘danced’ me
Hip hop diplomacy, was given the same reception by Pakistan’s security agencies that the music style initially got from its home country. Though FEW Collective’s show in Islamabad did get a good reception from those in attendance, everything since then has gone downhill.
First, the troupe was picked up when policeman in Rawalpindi caught them photographing critical security installations – the Regional Tax Office (this quite obviously being the year they finally meet their targets). Barely a week later, their show in Lahore got called at the last minute, because of what was either a No Objection Certificate (NOC) related problem, or a case of over-cautiousness by the local organisers, depending on who you wish to believe.
Personally, I think the team at Gandhara was worried about the city having dancing burnout, especially with all the fancy moves performed by the Memogate players.
Soon their Lahore performance followed a (false) rumor that their performances in Karachi were had been cancelled and that the group had been sent back to the States.
While most foreign performers usually at least claim to take back treasured memories and talk about how great the people in Pakistan were to them, the FEW group may be excused for just wanting the nightmare to end.
My two cents for event organisers is not to invite them back – they might throw rotten vegetables at you.
When Islamabad found out about the first incident, it was met with raised eyebrows and maybe a snigger or two from people who saw them perform. A week later, the same people looked embarrassed and ashamed – at least after they stopped sniggering.
Beyond the giggles though, this little soap-opera sideshow does bring a number of questions to the fore, most notably, how bad is inter-office security coordination? The policeman believed that the RTO was a ‘sensitive’ location. Who told him that? For that matter, what is a sensitive location?
No answers for any of those. This is just part of living in a country where every place is a sensitive location, cameras are the devil’s canvas, and preaching (or committing) murder are praiseworthy acts.
At the other end though, one has to wonder why embassy staff neglected to inform the group that the area, which is ‘sensitive’ because it is a stone’s throw (for the Incredible Hulk) from the GHQ and Army House, is a no photography zone. I met the embassy’s spokesman the day after of the Pindi incident, and he said they were not aware of its ‘sensitive’ status. Unfortunately, I forgot to ask him if he, or the people liaising on the group’s part did.
The other questions include what kind of evil plans does the US have here?
What has made everyone so suspicious of dancers? These guys are dropping beats, not bombs. Uncle Sam has done wrong by Pakistan in a number of ways, but is it really right to get back at Lady Liberty instead?
No answers for any of these questions either.
There is one last question though, and this one probably is answerable: Is the CIA really that good? I ask this because everyone who saw them dance would have readily bought the ‘cover story’. Personally, I love a good spy story, but break dancing assassins is a bit much.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.