Bhoja Air crash: Hail to the sound bite addict!

Published: April 22, 2012
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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.

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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 (twitter.com/vasghar)

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