Using 'Altaf Bhai': The joys of studying politics

Just uttering the name "Altaf Hussain" led me to be treated as a VIP by the security officials.

Maria Waqar November 07, 2011
Being a student of political science comes with handicaps in a country where debate on current affairs and peccadilloes of politicians is ubiquitous, yet awareness of an academic discipline dedicated to the study of politics is scant.

There’s one particular incident at Lahore airport that I vividly remember, when being a student of political science got me entangled in a rather bizarre situation.

As I walked inside the international departure terminal, I noticed that yet another security check had been installed. Some men in shalwar kameez stood listlessly, as airport security personnel fiercely rummaged through their luggage.

Being a ‘laadiss’ from a privileged background, I typically would not have been subjected to such insensitive scrutiny. But fate had it planned otherwise, when a scowling security official approached me.
“Madam, what’s in there?” he questioned sternly.

“My belongings,” I replied curtly.

“What do you study?” he asked, stroking his mustache with his fingers.

“Political science. Is this a relevant question, Sir?” I inquire sharply, in an annoyed tone.

My answer eased his frown.

“Our future politician! You must be following Sherry Rehman’s footsteps.”

Why are people so stupid? I thought with a grimace. Instead of striding away with my baggage — something I should have rationally done — I chose to correct him. “No, I am not,” I replied curtly.
“What?” he asked suspiciously.

His expression darkened and his eyes narrowed. Alarm bells rang in my head and I half-expected him to fumble through my suitcases just because I didn’t want to be a Sherry Rehman-inspired politician.

But I still foolishly chose honesty over an easy escape — at least for the time being.
“Just because I am studying politics, does not mean I am going be a politician,” I retorted.

“Kyun, jee (why not)?” he asked sounding almost offended, with his hands on his hips and face contorted in a dreadful scowl.

My exchange with the grouchy security officer had clearly taken an awry turn.

But then, I simply decided to fib my way out of the strange situation.
“I am following Altaf bhai’s footsteps, I mean,” I said with a wayward smile.

“Oh…,” his voice trailed off in confusion and he looked slightly intimidated.

He screamed to the security officer handling the baggage screening, “Clear Madam’s baggage quickly!”

With a secret laugh, I relished the unforeseen advantage of studying politics. If only it could also get me first-class seating, I thought wistfully while walking away with the airs and graces of a VIP.
Maria Waqar A journalist working for The Express Tribune. She can be reached on twitter at @MariaWaqar
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Saliha | 10 years ago | Reply @salman orangiwala Immigrants themselves seething over new immigrants from other parts of the country. How ironic is that? Baqi sara mulk ghareeb, bas karachi pakata hai aur sab khatay hain. Kabhi qadam rakha hai orangi say bahar? See the world honey, if your bhai lets you to do that. Its a FACT that nobody gives two hoots to altaf in punjab. Digest that too. You claim to be a migrant taking pride in using the city's resources for building up your life,and in the same breath you refuse this very right to other immigrants from other cities? We mohajirs had full legal , moral and constitutional rights to settle in Karachi as promised by Mr.Jinnah and the founders of Paksitan. And ofcourse jinnah absolutely refused this right to any other pakistani, right? And just so you know, urdu-speaking people are NOT the only migrants. Theres a plethora of punjabi muhajirs settled in punjab. get off this high horse of ' hum ne mulk ko bacha k rakha hua hai'. And yeah, i hope you, or none of your migrant friends and family members live in US or UK, for you apparently cant digest the paka-pakaya khana ideology,do you? Ps: im a karachiite. Mohajir. Just so everyone knows that breeds like salman do not represent all of us.
Nimo | 10 years ago | Reply What was that ? :/ May be Anti MQM type thing ? Whatever " Altaf Bhai " Rox MQM Rox
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