Tallat Azim This was definitely a new one Ever since security has become a major issue for the rulers of this cou-ntry and we, the commoners, have had to bear the brunt of it, this story is one for the records A baby born in a rickshaw, because the mother was on her way to the hospital but could not reach her destination because the traffic was on hold, is an amazing one. People dying in ambulances because of similar situations in Pakistan are now common place but being born in a small vehicle is a first. (Hope the Guinness Book of Records is noting). This came about because a VVIP was visiting Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan and, as is the norm, all births and deaths are supposed to be on hold during such visits. The ugly word 'route, which is what they call blocking of roads for when VVIPs have to pass by, has become the bane of our lives. Movement is blocked for any length of time and without notice, resulting in missing important appointments, flights, exams and job interviews, whatever. May be weddings too, which is really bad if you are the bride-groom The worst case scenario is, of course, being in an ambulance. This poor woman in the rickshaw probably had no recourse to an ambulance because she probably did not have a phone. Any one who has ever had a baby will also vouch for the fact that nature has a built-in security for when a birth is to take place and it takes a minimum of a few hours from the beginning of labour until the actual birth, so that preparations are made and help ensured. The 'route business beats nature hollow and hence the incongruous birth in a rickety rickshaw in downtown Que-tta. That the mother and baby survived to tell the tale is nothing short of miracle. When the story broke, the VIP in question, President Asif Ali Zardari, announced a cash award of Rs 5 lakhs for the child. It would have been more opportune, with a resultant resurgence of goodwill for him, if he had announced that in future no traffic is to be held up for any body and that he and the other VIPs would opt to travel by helicopter instead. I dont understand why people around him do not advise him to get appropriate PR mileage out of a situation that arises. Every body in government has only one solution to life, limb, rape etc etc. Silence it with cash. No new policy that would have far-reaching effects. Nothing that could bring about a meaningful change. One can be thankful though that the president or the prime minister did not make light of the whole thing, as ex-president Mushar-raf had done for rape victims once, by saying that women prefer to have babies in rickshaws so that they can get cash awards from the government The prying electronic media is developing the habit of show-casing or highlighting all that is wrong with the way we have been doing things since kingdom come. Practices and behaviour that has been acceptable for ever are now being questioned. The recent footage on all the channels showing how our policemen were giving good old phainti to some suspects in Chiniot caused an outcry and a reaction. I remember a joke from my childhood about how some Pakistani policemen discovered a mum-my at an archaeological site and were asked if they knew how old it was. They took the mummy to one room and came back and said its four thousand years old. When asked how they found out, one of them said, bol phai si Torture like this takes place across the country many times every day and beating 'confessions out of people is the only means used to solve cases of theft and other crimes. Our police force is not very skilled or trained in conducting investigations into crimes on any lines of science or technique. There have to be major reforms introduced for things to actually change. The cosmetic act of punishing the policemen who were caught on camera will soon be forgotten and the only difference will be that torture sessions will continue in completely private space with no possible camera recordings. It all stems from lack of education. To get rid of these commonly used torture practices it will be necessary to first delete them from established mindsets. Postscript: People worldwide are engaged in trying to find alternate energy solutions. One such effort is the creditable Eco Marathon sponsored by Shell that has been held in Europe for many years. The event consists of a marathon which pits vehicles against each other in a competition to see who can travel the furthest distance in a single litre of fuel. Entrees consist of university and high school students from all over the world who fund the construction and transportation of their own eco-friendly vehicles and compete against each other. Shell Pakistan participated in the SEM event last year by sending four Pakistani student teams to Berlin. This year is the first time that the SEM event has come to Asia and is being held in Kuala Lumpur in July. 27 teams from Pakistan have registered, which makes it the highest number from any one country in Asia. The teams have all created their own vehicles and fuel efficient inventions and are extremely excited at being given this exposure and opportunity. I think we can all take collective pride in the fact that, despite all our faults and shortcomings, Pakistanis also possess the drive to create and excel. And, as in the marathon, our next generation, given half a chance, can go a long distance in getting us out of the rut we are stranded in. To quote Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi: Khuda karey kai meri arz-e-pak per utray Wo fasl-e-gul jisay andaisha-e-zawal na ho The writer is a freelance columnist. Email: tallatazim@yahoo.com