Showing posts with label Masroor Air Base. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Masroor Air Base. Show all posts

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Security Lapse? What Security Lapse?

I realize that everyone is now in a position to lecture our defenders on how to defend themselves. Shut down PAF Museum, close down the shaadi business, demolish Shah Faisal Colony, replace those security cameras, take away Rehman Malik's Blackberry etc. etc. etc.

Can I take the opportunity to share a minor security lapse that I was personally a witness to a couple of months ago?

Like most mid-career journalists I dream of real estate, basically owning my own little beach hut on Hawke's Bay. Occasionally I rent or beg my more resourceful friends but wouldn't it be nice to have a little one-room place there? I, along with a friend, found myself in a Colonel sahib's car in the pursuit of this beach fantasy. An enterprising real estate dealer had convinced us that Colonel sahib has a little plot on Hawke's Bay that he would like to sell for a bargain price.

As we reached that blighted turning on Mauripur Road from where you turn for Hawke's Bay and Sand Spit (you know the one which hasn't been paved for past 20 years, because truckers, you know, will ruin it anyway) Colonel Sahib kept driving towards Masroor Air Base. Much better road, he promised us. As we approached the gate, Colonel sahib rolled down his window and gave out his name and rank, and three layers of security melted away, and we started a very pleasant drive on a very nice road inside the base. It puzzled me as it was a private car with no security stickers or anything else.

"Colonel sahib, do you come here quite often?" I asked earnestly.
"Nahin yaar, haven't been here in six years."
"Is this an army car then?"
"No. Bought it myself."
"So why didn't those people ask for your ID? I mean, this is a very important operational base, how do they know that you are a colonel?"
"What?! Don't I look like a colonel?"


An aerial view of Masroor Air Base from the Federation of American Scientists' website


Colonel sahib lowered the volume on Anoop Jalota's sharabi ghazal and stared at us. He wore a white, starched shalwar qameez and Raybans. Okay, he had the fauji haircut, but I have seen lots of non-colonels who look exactly like him.

"Of course you do, Colonel sahib," I reassured him.

The drive through the base was uneventful. It wasn't as posh as we hacks think these things are. We passed by signboards that pointed to Mirage squadrons, the Senior NCO Mess, and lots of empty fields. Colonel sahib admitted that the security was a bit of joke. I wasn't sure if he was indulging potential customers or actually believed it. We exited through a tiny gate which was manned by two sleepy unarmed men in a uniform that we had never seen before.

"They are not soldiers, just chowkidars," Colonel sahib explained. "Somebody has just given them some uniforms."

As we hit the main civilian road we were reassured to see that we had managed to avoid the truck-congested part of the route but not missed the famous snack shop called Chillkaro.com.

And that beach plot? It turned out to be too expensive for me.