Going Boldly Where No Man Has Been Before
May 8th 2001. 9:49 AM. Zia International Airport. Domestic Terminal: The water resources minister strides boldly through the security gate. Not perhaps `to go boldly where no man has gone before', but in a manner in which no person is meant to go. Six people, including police officers follow him dutifully. Like traditional spouses, three strides behind. One carries an umbrella, one a briefcase, Razzak is unhampered by baggage. The security officer at the gate, Azhar, salutes nervously as he walks past, making no attempt to do the customary body check. Next in line, as I am being frisked, I ask him if MPs are checked. He nods affirmatively, though an elderly woman passenger, hearing my question quickly comes up and says, "No, they never check MPs." Azhar is silent, but Hasib Khan, the security officer comes up and politely explains that they have instructions not to do a body check on MPs. "We do check the baggage though." On further discussions he does admit that this is contrary to security regulations, but is a general practice with VIPs. "We have no written orders, but do have verbal instructions. However, we do check everyone for British Airways flights, as they don't accept this practice." Airlines and airports have their own security requirements, and though their insurance companies might not allow for this deference to the mushrooming VIP pool, I suppose they may modify their rules to suit their requirements. As an ordinary passenger however, I have the right to feel safe in the airplane I board, and it is part of the services I pay for. That feeling requires me to know that EVERY person who has boarded the plane has been checked by the security. When MPs are known to have bomb manufacturing setups in their homes, and others are seen publicly with gun toting hoodlums, my security checked flight no longer feels so safe. On a conspiracy theory mood, I would have suspected British Airways to have cooked up a devious plot to increase sales. I suspect it has a simpler basis. That elected representatives of the people, consider the people who voted them in, to be have lesser rights. In a country where sons of ministers can murder with impunity and journalists are open targets for lawmakers, this is a mild example. The fact that there was no one at the airport who felt they should protest, and that this letter was refused publication in a newspaper supposedly concerned about such issues, are signs of a deeper malaise. Maybe if British Airways was made the election commissioner… Shahidul Alam
No comments yet.