Friday, March 12, 2010

Heroes? I don't think so

In a recent (and rather snarky) article in the NYT, a group of Pakistani legislators on their way to meetings with Obama's top policy administrators in the United States refused to submit to a full body scan during security screenings before boarding a flight to New Orleans. Instead they returned to Pakistan and are being hailed as heroes.

Appearing on Capital Talk (hosted by the odious Hamid Mir), one of the legislators spoke about his decision to refuse a body scan stating, “Going through a body scan makes you naked, and in making you naked, they make the whole country naked.”

For me this incident is a bit of a Catch-22. One the one hand, asking publicly elected officials from a country to submit to body scanners is a diplomatic insult. Additionally, there is an inherent double standard. If the legislators in question were from any of the G-8 countries, would they be asked to submit to such screening? What about Pakistan's efforts against Terrorism such as the recent offensive on South Waziristan, or the capture of the members of the Quetta Shura? On the other hand, it is important to point out that the majority, if not all of our publicly elected figures have participated in a variety of criminal acts ranging from bribery and extortion (all of MNA) to extra judicial killings (MQM, PPP and ANP, as shown recently in Karachi). It would also be remiss to ignore that fact that several of our publicly elected officials have ties to and support extremists and militant organizations (see Rana Sanaullah), many of which are listed on US State Department's list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations. And given that Pakistan is terrorism central, should our public officials be treated in the same manner as those from nations that are not used to support terrorist activities both at home and abroad?

The worst part is that these officials are being hailed as Pakistani heroes. How is refusing to undergo body scanning at an airport an act of heroism?  In this incident, these legislators had the option of refusing to undergo scans without severe repercussion to themselves, their family and their property. Not exactly what I would call heroism! And let's not even get started with the subsequent media frenzy. From what I can see, this whole incident seems staged for popularity.

If Hamid Mir is going to highlight Pakistani heroes, I would prefer he invite individuals like Ansar Burney, Asma Jahangir and Hina Jilani, Mukhtar Mai, Edhi, Ruth Pfau and Mai Jori; people who are actually working to improve the condition of the Pakistani people. 

P.S  I'm posting the entire Capital Talk episode below.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5


  1. Oh shoot....I've been in so many body scanners and must have been seen so many times naked...I've shamed my country so much....and this shame has nothing to do with the label of being the citizen of the most dangerous country in the world. As well as the bomb blasts, the corruption, general low literacy and health rates... of course ... the shame of the body scanner....Now there's no shame like THAT.

    I mean seriously?

  2. @mao

    You should have been invited on Capital Talk to knock some sense into Hamid Mir and these politicians.