Lights, camera, action: Faisal Vawda, the ‘hero’ we did not need

Published: November 27, 2018

PTI MNA Faisal Vawda arrived at the scene with a gun and a bulletproof vest. PHOTO: SCREENSHOT

The heinous attack on the Chinese consulate brought many brave women and men of the police to the forefront, all earning well-deserved national admiration. However, Mr Faisal Vawda was not one of them.

There is no reason that a tragedy like this should ever be eclipsed by a satirical side-show, but that is something with which we must now cope. Amidst the chaos at the consulate, appeared a hero that nobody had asked for, and nobody quite needed. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MNA, Vawda, arrived at the scene with a gun and a bulletproof vest.

The nation was quick to ask the obvious questions regarding our water resources minister’s armoured presence at the site. Is this not the sort of crisis better left to trained professionals? If so, then what utility did Vawda hope to provide in the presence of highly-skilled security personnel?

Vawda claimed in a tweet that he was “informed” about the crisis (with a bat signal, I presume), to which he attended because he was “in the vicinity”. As a doctor, I’ve spent the last four years of my life managing patients through various medical emergencies; never once have I had a random minister pop over with a 100cc syringe to lend me a hand, because he happened to be “in the vicinity”. Even if one did, I’d respectfully ask him to step aside and make space for the professionals.

For an armed civilian politician to arrive unceremoniously at an active crime scene can be politically useful. Vawda’s deliberate dependence on the culture of toxic masculinity cross-pollinated with jingoism is visible clearly in his tweet, which is a lot to unpack.

“As a Pakistani I didn’t shy away. It’s my right to use my licensed weapon for self-defence. At least I’m not a coward like many hiding behind keyboards and bull*****ing!”

For one, when you deliberately wedge yourself into a violent situation where you don’t belong, you cannot argue “self-defence”. The audacity of deriding critics as cowards hiding behind their keyboards stems from Vawda’s overestimation of his own utility to the defence operation. It can be safely assumed that water resources’ minister did not drop down from a police chopper, barrel-rolling into the consulate to shoot some bad guys. He stood at a safe distance from the scene of violence, surrounded by armed personnel, talking into a camera.

The incident proves that there is no emergency grave enough to dissuade political opportunism. Why leave the matter to the right team of professionals with an appropriate skill-set when you can drop by for a macho photo-op?

In fact, this posturing is particularly distasteful because it overshadows the bravery of our real heroes. The moment does not belong to Vawda. It belongs to SP Suhai Talpur, the female officer who led the operation. It belongs to dozens of security personnel who fought for the restoration of order, at grave risk to their own lives.

There is no reason that the most memorable image of this event in the public’s mind should be a cringe-inducing picture of a ‘manly’ politician who just happened to be in the area. But sadly, that is how the cookie crumbles.

Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (

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