Yes, Senator Rehman Malik, you deserved to be booted off that plane!

Published: September 16, 2014
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The people of Pakistan are hopefully finding the voice they ought to have found long ago. PHOTO: FILE

There are times when something you dream of actually happens, like Senator Rehman Malik getting booted off that Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight.

Had anyone else been booted off this way it might not have had the same impact, but with Rehman Malik… it’s like being presented with a large, a very large, box of chocolates, a complete set of Harry Potter books (which are amazingly yet to be read), and a tonne of ice cream all at one go! Oh joy!

My salams to the gentleman who took that stand. May you live long in a genuinely better Pakistan, with my prayers for your health and safety, should Mr Malik ever regain power. Yet I don’t support him all the way.

Having gotten that off my chest, let’s examine the viral video and what caused it: a Karachi-to-Islamabad PIA flight had been waiting for two and a half hours on the tarmac at Jinnah International Airport. The reason, although not yet confirmed, was that it was waiting for some ‘VIPs’ to arrive, and when they did arrive they turned out to be Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Rehman Malik and Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) MNA Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani.

As they arrived at the door of the plane, passengers barred their way accusing the VIPs of delaying their flight and making 250 passengers wait. Crew members joined angry passengers in booing the politicians, forcing them to retreat amidst humiliating slogans. It’s all there on two videos which have since gone viral. The one with Mr Malik will probably be viewed in lieu of Prozac for days to come.

Passengers can be heard shouting on the video clip,

“We have taken it for too long… 68 years… are we going to take it for another 68 years?”

“Malik sahab, sorry. You should go back. You should apologise to these passengers. You should be ashamed of yourself… 250 passengers have suffered because of you. It is your fault, sir.”

This wave of euphoria, which spilt over everyone when they saw that video, speaks of pent up resentment, anger, disdain, frustration, and a thirst for justice. In my own case, I couldn’t have cared less if Mr Malik was responsible for this particular flight delay, or not. I was happy to see him turn tail in the face of those vociferous voices, to see him retreat to a safe distance before turning to protest feebly and to see him thrown off, for whatever reason.

I saw the whole thing, in short, through a red mist. I was a one woman mob. And that is the scary bit.

Former interior minister and others like him had it coming. There’s little doubt of that. There’s also little doubt that our cricketing hero has managed to bring the matter of abuse of power to the forefront turning a sore point into (almost) grounds for war. But when has war ever been rational? I have no idea what sort of a man Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani is. Did he deserve the same treatment? If indeed the flight was held up because of some VIPs, was it not PIA’s responsibility to refuse to wait for them? How was the gentleman taking this video able to override the crew completely? PIA was quite obviously helpless on every front. Think of the undiscerning blame, hatred, accusations, disregard for what is right and just, and most of all the mass hysteria that drives people into violence and even genocide. Mobs and masses do not make for long term change and good outcomes, nor do slogans and tsunamis. It takes education and debate.

It also takes awareness and that is what this appears to be.  The people of Pakistan are finding the voice they ought to have found long ago. But they need to be careful, aware that a game is never won by means of bouncers. It takes skilful footwork, accurate bowling, well placed strokes, canny field placement, keen fielding, a strong captaincy and a devoted and disciplined team to win matches and series. Mobs feed on emotion not sense. They don’t discern between innocent and culpable. People die in great numbers when a mob and its emotions hold the field.

“Malik sahab, you are not a minister any more. And even if you are, we don’t care… anymore.”

That’s a good line, particularly when the minister in question asked for such sentiments. We should not care who it is, all persons who do a job, any job, must be accountable. But we have a tendency towards licking the boots of people in power. That is what has brought us to this point.

It is well to remember that there will always be those who disagree with what is done by any given government. If the masses taste blood once, they will take matters into their own hands repeatedly.

What happens then?

Rabia.Ahmed

Rabia Ahmed

The author is a freelance writer and translator.

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