The Khan at the airport

I spent 10 years going in and out of American airports. I'm over six feet tall and used to sport a beard that should have been hipster but looked terrifying, so you can imagine what the officers thought when they saw me: boy, beard, boom. I've been searched, prodded, delayed, and questioned; my laptop, suitcases and boxer-briefs have been scanned for questionable material; I've missed so many connecting flights that I stopped booking them; and I have been asked point blank at JFK whether I hate freedom or have trained in any terrorist camps in Lahore (what do they expect you'll say? "Why, yes! I did train at a terrorist camp! You wake up at the crack of dawn but I can get you a fabulous discount on Level 2's Bombing for Beginners."). All of this is to say that what Khan wrote about is true for Muslims from any country. Even India. His assertion of that can't possibly be a crime, can it?

Malik's statements were met with a resounding "You're one to talk" look from across the border, as well they should. Still, it did remind me of just a few short weeks ago when Qadri, the little Mullah that Could, bulldozed onto the national stage in a cloud of stripes, deadlines and pill-box headware. At the height of that crisis, when our Supreme Court was trying to arrest the prime minister and the major cities were quite stressed out, India's PM decided to release a statement saying that his country couldn't continue "business-as-usual" with Pakistan any more.

That was like leaning over to someone who's hanging off a cliff and saying, "Umm, you're doing that, like, wrong. You're gonna die. I'm gonna go." I just didn't get the point of it. No one knew how it would turn out so why not wait quietly like all the other nations to see which way our script turned? In any case, much of the good work that had been done in cross-border relations (on-arrival senior citizen visas/ trade/ arts exchange) has all unravelled in a sad heap. A colleague was preparing to leave for an artist's residency in Mumbai when a few days before it was to begin he received a message saying none of the Pakistanis are invited any more, since no one wants them there. Ouch.

... contd.

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