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March 4, 2014

Yesterday was a strange old day.  I’d written a post about some of the texts that our security section send to us, inspired by the one I received on Sunday evening:

“Alert: The firing in the town is in celebration of Pakistan’s victory in cricket match.  Staff advised not to stand outside.”

That tickled me.  It was sent at 10pm, just as my husband and I were off to bed so the chances of us going to stand outside were remote.  I particularly liked the little insight into the Pakistani psyche – the sheer joy of winning a cricket match being enough to allow them to forget that projectiles fired into the air do, at some point, have to come down again.  I went to bed smiling inwardly and hoping that all the cricket fans ran out of ammunition very quickly.

So, when I received another text yesterday morning about more shooting, I wasn’t overly concerned.

Then we had a tannoy announcement instructing everyone to stay inside.  Bit by bit, more information came through.  It transpired that there were two suicide bombers in the district courts in the centre of Islamabad, who were backed up by 3 to 4 armed gunmen.  They killed 11 people and then the gunmen disappeared into the city.

The police started to search from house to house and, all the time, we were to stay indoors.  After a couple of hours we started to receive texts allowing movement on some of the roads and, by the time school ended, we were free to travel.

The only other time I’ve been close to something like this was on 7/7 in London when the tube and buses were attacked.  The city closed down completely.  Only emergency service vehicles were on the roads and so, as I walked to the overland train (all the tubes had, of course, been stopped) there was the eerie sight of a row of buses all abandoned by the side of the road. The lack of traffic added an air of quiet and we strolled through a sombre cloud of calm.

Not so in Pakistan.  This is a country which is more used to violence than any should be.  Even The Express Tribune (the online newspaper for Pakistan) has a couple of leading articles on the bombing today but then moves quickly onto the proposed Iran/Pakistan gas pipeline.    The checkpoints on the way to school were free-flowing and the only car I saw being pulled over was belching out black fumes and looked as though it was single-handedly destroying ice caps.

We are now free to move around at will.

I like the freedom.  I am careful and I trust in our security set-up.  What I discovered yesterday, however, was that I am also part of an immensely efficient communication network.

For, when faced with a threat which may prevent our getting to our children at school, nothing – absolutely nothing – beats a group of mothers armed with mobiles.

All intelligence was freely shared and freely given in the interests of The Common Good.

And what is The Common Good?  I hear you ask.

For mothers of Elementary School age children there is only one.

The School Pick Up.

One Comment
  1. Andrea permalink

    We had bullets from aforementioned cricket celebrators raining down on our roof. Nothing like that to help you sleep easily in your bed.


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