Sitting in a plane waiting for a delayed flight is possibly one of the most uncomfortable experiences in the world. Let’s be honest, unless you’re quite wealthy, the days of a relaxing travel experience are long gone. Even for those with the means to fly First Class, the discomfort of sitting on a parked airplane is only moderated by the frills. Nobody would choose to sit on a parked plane, even in the best of seats. So when passengers on a PIA flight came to believe that they had been forced to endure their cramped accommodations because some VIPs were running late, their response was only natural.
For its part, PIA has explained that the flight was delayed due to technical issue and not due to any VIP protocol. Whether or not this was the case in this particular instance, however, is beside the point. Everyone can quickly recall instances in which they were horribly inconvenienced in order to appeal to the egos of a VIP. What VIPs do not seem to realise, however, is that every time they do this, they actually make themselves less secure.
Some inconveniences to protect political leaders are unfortunately necessary. Blast walls and redirected traffic around certain locations are sadly required due to the reality of the deteriorating security situation and the threats that some politicians face from militant groups and other threats. The same people who blame Benazir Bhutto for taking risks with her safety, however, are the same people who say that other political figures should not be allowed to live behind walls and travel in security caravans. Which is it?
The problem is not providing security for political leaders, but that some politicians take advantage of their legitimate security status simply to make themselves more comfortable. For example, if the PIA flight was delayed due to technical issue, why was Rehman Malik not sitting on board suffering like everyone else? Was he given special consideration to wait in a lounge until the technical issue was solved?
Certain allowances must be made for the security of political leaders. This is recognised not only in Pakistan but in every country of the world. The difference is in how some of our politicians treat those allowances as a God Given Right instead of a privilege granted by the people.
The next time a political leader finds himself on a flight that is delayed for ‘technical issues’, he would be smart to insist that he sit on the plane with the other passengers and suffer the same sweat and cramp that they do. Then, when he is driven away in his security caravan after landing, the people will wave their hands to him, not their fists.