By Yasser Latif Hamdani
I was invited yesterday to a get together at the Islamabad Club by the Indian High Commission because- as I was informed by the political officer of the High Commission- of my articles on the life of Quaid-e-Azam Mahomed Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan, in particular my piece titled “The Future Belongs To Jinnah”. I went wearing a Pakistani flag on my chest.
To be fair I had expected the place fully surveilled by the Pakistani intelligence services but my idea of intelligence is … shall we say … more intelligent.
As I parked my car, I was accosted by two bearded gentlemen in shalwar kameez and at first I thought maybe I had parked in the handicapped space. Instead they asked me “apna taruff karain”. Taken aback I responded – “jee mein eik Pakistani shehri hoon”. “App ka naam?” they asked. “Kiyoun app kon hain” was my counter question. They said “intelligence”. I said “lagtay to nahin” before introducing myself.
The point is that I have nothing against intelligence gathering. There are so many ways of intelligence gathering though, for example and this is for the benefit of our “Intelligence” Bureau:
3. Hidden Cameras
Why must then Pakistanis like myself, whose patriotism should be beyond question and I’d like to emphasize this – in my view there isn’t a Pakistani more patriotic than me in Pakistan today-, be made to feel like we are doing something wrong just by attending a dinner and a get together by Indians. India is foreign country for us and I don’t understand why we are so insecure about it. And why must it be done by people who stick out like a sore thumb? Shouldn’t intelligence agents be smartly dressed gentlemen ordering martini at the bar at these affairs instead of people who can be spotted from miles away apparently as intelligence agents (I couldn’t because I thought all intelligence agents were 007) ? I hope against hope that some of these intelligence agents are merely role-playing and are actually highly educated PhD types capable of nuanced analysis.
And may I ask where our intelligence was when India was planning on constructing dams? Or when India was about to go nuclear? Or as it is now becoming clear that India has been arming dissidents in Balochistan? Where was our intelligence service then?
Reminds me of the hilarious and yet tragic piece by Pakistan’s resident Indian bloggers, who I met last night, appropriately titled “Our James Bond”.
(Update: I have received an email from someone who is an expert at this sorta thing informing me that Pakistani intelligence performs the dual function of both keeping an eye on the Indians and protecting them from terrorists. If this is really the case it changes things somewhat and I stand corrected.)