Headline July 10, 2015/ "' LAHORE & [PAKISTAN]-....... LAMENTS & LAMINATES "'

"' LAHORE & [PAKISTAN]-....... 


SUMMONED TO ESCAPE, the oppressiveness of his own heart, -one spring evening-

The author of the novel: ''The scatter here is too great'',  Bilal Tanweer, begins his gather. 

I FOLLOW THE DICTATE and walk out of Lahore University Of Management Sciences, {LUMS}  where I teach  - a leafy campus with about 3,500 students located in one of city's wealthiest suburbs.

Right outside the university gate, there's a long line of cars whose undersides are being scanned for explosives.  Razor wire is coiled along the top of the walls, and every few hundred meters there is a-

Makeshift bunker-stacked with  blue-and-white sand-filled sacks and guns pointing towards streets.  There are concrete barriers to slow  down incoming traffic into a zig zag. Security guards patrol the entrance with mobile electronics-card readers to make sure only those with valid university IDs enter the premises.

The university has come to resemble a fortress, or a military base. For outsiders  -that is, everybody who doesn't have an ID  -it is virtually a no-go area.

The LUMS campus is not an exception. Since 2008, Lahore has experienced a spate of high-intensity bombings, mostly carried out by Sunni extremists and targeting the law enforcement agencies and religious minorities: Shiities, Ahmadis, Christians.

Most elite establishments and many public spaces  -universities, schools, shopping malls, offices, restaurants, banks, cinemas, parks, historical monuments   -have been outfitted with barriers, checkpoints and razor wire. Residential architecture has also been fortified.

The walls of the ordinary houses have risen. See-through doors and vine covered fences have been obstructed with metal sheets.

After the university finished installing brand new tire busters and a machine gun at the entrance, I asked a security supervisor: "At what point can you tell me that we are safe? How many more guns does it take? How high must these walls climb before we know for sure?"

He looked at me, smiled and replied: "Nobody is safe, sir. But all this helps people feel safe."

Does it, though? In my conversations with residents of securitized zones, I hear recurrent mention of how easy it is to breach the protective measures. What if terrorists deceive the guards and enter in a Mercedes-Benz using fake ID cards?

What if they chuck a few hand grenades over the walls? Who is to say the security guards, who make a minimum wage, will risk their lives? Are we really safer with more guns around?

After all the governor of Punjab Province, Salman Taseer, was shot down by his own security guard in 2011. And aren't guards sometimes complicit in armed robberies? What will happen when there are more guns in the hands of private security personnel than the city police?

The feeling of insecurity, in other words, is directly proportional to the efforts expended to dispel it.  

The new security architecture is also dividing, with bricks and mortar, two groups of people: the ones who are guarded and the ones who are being guarded against.

The promise of safety is premised on emptying out a demarcated zone of suspicious people, and those deemed suspicious are people from lower-income groups, who are already at the margins of the society  

In gated communities like my university and wealthy parts of town like DHA, a wholesale registration of the  domestic workers  is taking place. While residents breeze through the checkpoints and the security barriers-

The people who work in their homes have to go through daily the humiliation of being questioned and searched, even harassed. Through these precautions, better suited to military zones than ordinary cities, the urban poor have been declared security threats by default and criminals by implication.

I am treading along the wall next to the university gate. After walking a few meters, I hear a whistle behind me. A security guard at the outermost part of the entrance is concerned about where I am going.

Students and professors and the well-appointed generally do not walk in this direction. It is the way that the sweepers, the maids and the drivers go home.

I wave to the guard, to signal I know where I am going.

With respectful dedication and many wishes for the author, and the Students, Professors and Teachers of the world. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society Computers-Internet-Wireless:

''' Young Writers Underrated '''

'''Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!