Bhoja Air crash: Hail to the sound bite addict!

Published: April 22, 2012

Rehman Malik, hungering for a sound bite, raced to the crash site forcing ambulances and rescue vehicles aside.

Hours after the fiery death of 127 Bhoja Air passengers, our interior minister, hungering for sound bite-upon-sound bite, raced to the crash site. His getting there was so important that ambulances and rescue vehicles were forced to move aside and clear the route for his motorcade.

Fortunately, either good sense or the army told him to turn around halfway, but why he needed his full motorcade to go to a disaster area with him in the first place is beyond me.

Why he thought his motorcade should be given priority over emergency vehicles is also beyond me.

His presence at the site then served little purpose.

Unlike Mayor Cory Booker of Newark, New Jersey, who recently ran into a burning building to save the life of a constituent, the minister hardly fits the bill of thosewho help locate or identify bodies more effectively than the sniffer dogs at the scene. But maybe that’s why he was going. Nobody takes his statements seriously. Perhaps he intended to lighten the mood.

He really didn’t need to. There were enough voyeurs at the scene to cover that. From the random gigglers to the cell phone photographers and the evergreen unscrupulous elements, the site, and the kilometres-long radius around it, was populated with a throng of people who had no business being there. Laughing as reporters interviewed them, blocking emergency vehicles midway up the road, if the rescue workers were there to do God’s work, it is easy to understand whose work these men and teenage boys were doing.

As a human being, it is disgusting to have to watch people knowingly disrupt rescue operations and even arguing with ambulance drivers for trying to use sirens to clear the road. One youngster thought he could get a girl’s attention by taking a picture of himself posing in the middle of a single-lane road with a fleet of ambulances behind him.

Then of course there were the thieves. As a volunteer team was being assigned duties, standing nearby, a few boys were discussing whose pants are baggier. One—let’s call him Baggy— even demonstrated how he would pick up something and pocket it without drawing attention.

Read more by Vaqas here, opr follow him on Twitter @vasghar.

Vaqas Asghar

Vaqas Asghar

The author is a senior sub-editor on the Islamabad Desk and also reports on diplomatic events. He tweets as @vasghar (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ajamal

    He raced to the scene to take part in the loot.Recommend

  • Rehan Ahmad

    It’s unfortunate attitude of our nation toward rescue efforts as well as making fun of things without considering the seriousness of the issue. People don’t give way to ambulances, fire trucks and other emergency vehicles. I’ve gone through other article about people stealing the belongings of the people lost in aircraft crash. There is no exception for this interior minister of ours.

    If it was up to me shoot on sight order have had been given to army to deal with people like him regardless of one’s position and influence in political system. I wish I could change the value of human life of a Pakistani in view of our people. Recommend

  • Aalia Murphy

    He probably just wanted to show off his new tie. Recommend

  • Reasonable

    RM is a good for nothing, incompetent minister who is also devoid of even a hint of credibility. Don’t we remember the Jedis from Star Wars attacking Mehran Base? Or perhaps forgiving the terrorists for all their bloodsheds and offering to embrace them? Or perhaps that Khi’s violence is to be blamed on ex-girlfriends?

    I wonder who was stupid enough to give him the job?Recommend

  • Javeria Mahmood

    oh its bit too embarrassing Recommend

  • Shahryar Ahmed

    I do not understand why we blame the politicians, we should look at ourselves first. We as a nation are full of corrupt, incompetent, self centered/selfish people.

    We as a nation are terrible people, so it is a no brainer that the Pakistani politicians are like what they are.Recommend

  • mm

    who were those insensitive people? you, me and every 2nd person. most of the people calling it wrong would have done the same if they were there. Recommend

  • alicia

    I would have never done the same. I am honestly ashamed of Pakistani people after reading this. The same thing happened after the air blue accident hundreds of men and boys came from nowhere and started collecting the belongings from the dead bodies. Watches, jewellery, mobile phones etc. were taken without any feeling of guilt. I am so shocked that people in my country have absolutely lost and value of humanity in themRecommend

  • Nzaar

    When Zardari didn’t visit the flood affected areas (and went abroad, as per him, to raise aid money for the disaster), the entire media villified him for showing lack of interest & dedication.

    They said that while he can’t rescue people, moral support is important. There was no mention of the cost of extra fuel, security, transportation, etc that would have been consumed in his visit to flooded areas.

    Now Rehman Malik goes, and media is after him again.

    Damned if I do, damned if I don’t.Recommend

  • firmenlogo

    Expect more mistakes from this minister like other govt officials. Pray we have honest softhearted and Allah fearing Govt who serve Pakistan best. God bless our country.Recommend

  • Vaqas Asghar

    A flood and a plane crash are very different types of disasters.
    Plus, with the floods, his going to a few locations would not have hampered relief operations because they were widespread.
    In this case, the single-lane road which provides the only access route to the crash site was already clogged with traffic and the entry of a dozen car motorcade just so he could be photographed/ filmed at the site makes no sense.
    Snap-response disasters should always be avoided by VIPs at least until the victims have been taken care of.
    In this case, it would have been better if he went around midnight or 1 am when the road was clear and relief work had gained some degree of order (of course there would have been fewer cameras that late).Recommend

  • Rizwan

    Spoken like a true jiyala, Nzaar. Recommend

  • Ahmed HM

    Good article mate ! :)Recommend