Save the costly robot, let Lal Mast die

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When Peshawar Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) officer, Lal Mast, was killed trying to defuse a locally manufactured explosive device, the very effective robot which is used in defusing bombs and which costs millions of rupees was somewhere in the store of the police department and understandably so. So was the special protective dress which costs tens of thousands of rupees. 

Both the defusing robot and the dress are still in the police store without a scratch. If one wants to draw lesson from the incident, one can learn that one should save what is rare: in this case the bomb defusing robot and the protective gear. There hardly can be more than two dozen robots and such gears in the whole country. As compared to this we have hundreds of thousands of cops who can be made to defuse a bomb and if one dies while trying to do that, there are hundreds of cops in the department to take his place.

It was wrong of the reporters of some media houses to inquire from the high officials of the police department as to why Lal Mast was not given the computerized bomb defusing robot or the protective gear. They were wrong to complain that after the incident happened, the phones of all the concerned officials were closed and as such escaped answering this embarrassing question about the robot and the gear. 

Anyway, journalists are a sneaky and irresponsible lot and, also, since they have nothing better to do, they are just left with criticizing and embarrassing high officials to justify their own existence. 

They don’t understand situations such as the one under discussion. What would a reporter know of how much paperwork is involved in procuring such things as the robot and the dress in question; how many reminders have to be sent to the concerned sections of different ministries. How many phone calls have to be made to various secretaries of various ministries before the amount for the purchase is sanctioned and then comes the process of calling tenders and reading all the reports and past performance of the devices being purchased. All this before these costly things can arrive. Even then these are so few that the high officials have to keep these in mint condition to show it around and show off and impress the foreign delegates as to how much the country or a province is doing in the war on terror. 

While it is true that Lal Mast might have been with us today even after the blast happened as he tried to defuse a bomb in Mattani, it is a sure thing that the costly robot and the dress could have been destroyed which would mean that the next time Lal Mast and many other cops like him went to defuse bombs they would have been without the said devices which are very costly and very few too. 

There is no dearth of individuals like Hukam who was also martyred trying to defuse a bomb, of course, without the benefit of the robot or the protective gear. Hukam Khan’s own sons are also members of the same bomb disposal squad in which their father worked and ultimately lost his life trying to do his job. Lal Mast has some young man as a relative who can replace him but if not there are many constables in the police force who can. The important thing is that we should not become emotional on the issue. Ruling a country and running a big department like the police department require clear cold thinking. Very much unlike the emotional mothers, wives, children and sister of the martyred men of the bomb disposal squad who would want to give these costly robots and protective gears to the men whenever they go out to defuse bombs. 

As I said the high officials have to think very clearly and coldly as well. They have to protect what is rare and costly and be liberal with what is cheap and in abundance like the officials of the bomb disposal squad as compared to the bomb defusing robot and protective gear. 

Manzoor Ali Khan
The Frontier Post