Martial law at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts

I wonder how many jawans it takes to arrange an event at the PNCA auditorium?

Fouzia Saeed July 27, 2011
I just got back from the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA). While there, I saw around 200 fauji jawans, in their camouflaged uniforms and big boots, take over the place. The big parking and most of the area in front of the facility, is totally shut down for the public as of now.

For a moment, I thought, God forbid, martial law had been imposed. However, upon investigation, I found out that the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) is holding an event on the June 28 (tomorrow) and the prime minister will be the chief guest.

Now I have seen Gilani be the chief guest at many other events and I know that the security is supposed to be tight, but I have never seen a public place shut down and the parking lots taken over three days in advance because the prime minister will be coming.

Then I wondered why the military bhais needed this particular hall. They have no dearth of auditoriums and halls of their own, which I am sure are far better equipped than what we poor civilians have. It must be mentioned that this building of the PNCA came about for us after a wait of decades.

Why are such high-security events bring organised in the very few places available to us common citizens?

I don't want to be a miser and mean and say that the military should not have access to civilian facilitates as I fully recognise that they are citizens of this country as well, and I would be very happy if they used it for their events as citizens and not as owners of the country - restricting our access and taking over the space, breaking the rules of the PNCA and showing distasteful behaviour of putting in hundreds of their men in big boots in a highly civilised cultural institution. I am sure the PNCA would not let us close off their parking lots no matter how much we pay them. Similarly, they would not allow us to have food served inside the exhibition galleries like they have allowed now.

Unfortunately, a small group of us citizens happened to have an event there tomorrow. So this morning, first the PNCA management told us to buzz off and find another place without any remorse. Not to mention the hefty advance they had taken for one exhibition hall and the commitment in writing.

Later, we were allowed to have our program and they showed cooperation, but our participants would have to park half a kilometer away, as the parking lots are closed off.

I also wonder if those 200 jawans will continue to stay there tomorrow as well. Other than my discomfort with this distasteful take over, I wonder how many jawans it takes to arrange an event at the PNCA auditorium.

Our civilian institutions should also have a backbone and should make the military comply with their ethics and rules, but I guess they, like all of us civilians, also think that they are merely the temporary in-charges of the institutions - eventually it will be the active military or retired military people who will govern our cultural institutions.

For my media friends: it will make an interesting photo if you pay PNCA a visit tomorrow.
Fouzia Saeed A social scientist with a PhD from the University of Minnesota and the author of "Taboo! The Hidden Culture of a Red Light Area."
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Musalman RAshed | 12 years ago | Reply I wish people with some stats would come here and talk about maligning institutions... I agree with Mr pert who has given some insight into the dilemma of this nation. Whenever something goes wrong, Army is called, we stagger, and then stabilise, and then start doing all this over and over again... Yes, Army eats and flourishes on tax payers money, but they are the only ones in this entire nation that are regular taxpayers, as an organization and institution, not individual persons, facing a fool proof tax recovery process...... We talk of dozen plots, can Mr Vaqas please give me an example to quote, or a reference??? Yes i have heard they are given a house at the end of the service, for which 50 % amount they still have to pay at the time of taking over, the remaining amount deducted over their entire service of something like 25 yrs. And a plot on the same lines... But dont all strong institutions over the country do that? We have all sort of government and semi-government organizations pursuing such like welfare projects for their employess... Why?? Coz they are not paid in hundres of thousands of rupees over a month for just being an executive, of a 3rd World country, on the brink of economical, social, and most probably moral collapse.. And yet we dont care, we just worry over our pocket... Again I ask you all, do we judge ourselves and let others judge us by the mere personality of a few that make it to the media? People are tried in Army for serious charges, from generals to sepoys, but it is not made public for the media to make fun of.... And how sincere is our media, has anyone ever asked this question??? We talk of Raymond Davis, and then we switch to PNS Mehran, may be Osama Bin Laden in abbotabad and then the judiciary??? Has anyone ever thought of pursuing any of these issues to the extent of satisfaction of our conscience?? No, we are more concerned for the disturbance caused to an entertainment function that we were so much looking forward to.... And if Pa Army was such a misery, UN would not be proud to have the World's largest contribution of Peace keeping Missions all over the world from this pathetic infra-structure... And these are facts I am talking about... And im Sorry worthy author, i still would not call the civilians " bloody civilians", cause afterall, we are one nation, and pin-pointing each other isnt going to help
CitiZen | 12 years ago | Reply For my media friends: it will make an interesting photo if you pay PNCA a visit tomorrow. all in all you totally skipped the purpose of the exhibition during you entire ranting... the exhibition is being held to celebrate the tremendous role of Pakistan Army in UN PEACEKEEPING FORCES missions the world over! this is something your media friends should be covering instead of counting the boots---
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