The Peshawar bombing & the risk of travel

A hotel in Peshawar was bombed in Pakistan and many innocent people sadly lost their lives two days ago.  This senseless savagery happened as if on cue to welcome my wife and daughter, who are currently visiting family in Lahore while I live the "swinging" (read: unlimited access to the SciFi Channel) but very culinarily-deprived life (one word: tuna) of the temporary bachelor.

I tend to be very conscious of probability in life and, thus, rarely give much thought to chilling but exceedingly remote possibilities that preoccupy many thanks to sensationalistic media coverage. I don’t get nervous about swimming at the beach after watching "Jaws".  Just as I’d be utterly untempted even if it weren’t haram to invest time and money in lottery tickets–which I once heard a math prof refer to as a "tax on the mathematically challenged"–I don’t fret over hugely unlikely dire outcomes resulting from sensible decisions. While many people immediately cancel travel plans in such situations, my second thought–after mourning loss of life–upon hearing of a bombing or other headline-grabbing tragedy in a remote corner of the world is, "A perfect time to visit! Prices will be rock bottom, security super-tight and businesses and government eager to receive tourists."

But when a loved one is abroad and communication isn’t so hot, such news becomes a lot more real and worrisome, even if you’re a Vulcan like me about such things.

BBC NEWS | South Asia | Many killed in Pakistan bombing

A powerful bomb blast in a hotel in the centre of the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar has killed at least 24 people, police and officials say.
The ground-floor blast demolished parts of the four-storey Marhaba hotel near a busy market, trapping people inside.
Up to 30 people were injured, officials said. Ambulances and hand-pushed carts were used to ferry them to hospital.
The motive for the attack is not known. Peshawar has seen many recent attacks, some causing serious loss of life.

  • Abu Sinan

    Insha’Allah, everything will be fine. I have never paid much attention to the risks of travel, but I guess I will if and when the wife and boys travel without me.
    I spent a lot of time in Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s in some pretty bad places and I never worried. I always figured if it is your time it is your time. Same with my travels to MENA(Middle East North Africa).
    It is different worrying about yourself. I am probably a bit too easy going about my own safety, but you do learn to keep an eye out for things, like a left bag in a fish and chips shop in Belfast that I saw once.
    With the boys I get worried in a way for their safety that I never have got for myself.
    I sympathise with you.
    Allah Ma3akum.

  • Abu Sinan

    Insha’Allah, everything will be fine. I have never paid much attention to the risks of travel, but I guess I will if and when the wife and boys travel without me.
    I spent a lot of time in Ireland in the 1980s and 1990s in some pretty bad places and I never worried. I always figured if it is your time it is your time. Same with my travels to MENA(Middle East North Africa).
    It is different worrying about yourself. I am probably a bit too easy going about my own safety, but you do learn to keep an eye out for things, like a left bag in a fish and chips shop in Belfast that I saw once.
    With the boys I get worried in a way for their safety that I never have got for myself.
    I sympathise with you.
    Allah Ma3akum.

  • Wahaj Ahmad

    Tch tch I had suggested to Shabana for you to visit Raleigh. We have more than tuna for you.
    Karachi in fact had more violancedue to Chief Justice’s visit which was effectively blocked and MQM showed the fire power of which Musharraf was proud and instead of mourning (or better still preventing ) 41 deaths of innocent people he expressed that the whole Pakistan is with him. MQM leaders have been given a lot of ‘Gwader’ by Musharraf it seems.
    Peshawar, O! I remember well but I cant recall hotel by that name. Well I was not frequent hotel visitor there during my 2+ years stay.
    Come see us baitay. Wa salam

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    Salaams, Mamujan!
    I had no idea you read my blog! [Coughes nervously and wipes clammy hands on jeans.]
    Thank you for the kind offer. It would be so nice to see you and Mamanijan again. Shabana mentioned your suggestion to me just before she left and I was planning on checking in with you as soon as the post-semester dust settled on my end. I will get in touch with you shortly, insha’Allah.
    Yes, just when you think Musharraf has alienated everybody completely he manages to come up with a new way to make himself unpopular.

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    Thanks for the support Abu Sinan. I know what you mean. I’ve always been very “Zen” about travel risks, though things are a bit more complicated now that I’m married and have a kid. Not that I’ve done anything really crazy while traveling (unless you count walking along Q St NE from New York Avenue all the way to 33rd St NW in DC at 3 AM on a Friday night; a long story involving an afterhours return of a UHaul truck).
    Not that this is particularly dramatic, but I did once defy a machine gun-toting soldier while travellling, which is a bit out of the ordinary since I’m generally quite cooperative when dealing with armed men. He was barring my entrance to an office building in Ethiopa, but it became obvious to me that he was just messing with me and trying to extract a completely unnecessary bribe out of me. Given that I was there for an appointment with the chairman of the company whose building he was guarding–his boss’s boss’s boss–I figured there was much chance of me getting shot, so I finally stopped arguing, declared “I don’t have time for this” and walked past him. Judging by the explosion of laughter from the other soldier there I think I called his bluff.
    Thus ended my brush with adventure in Ethiopia. Not exactly the stuff of Robert Pelton’s THE WORLD’S MOST DANGEROUS PLACES.

  • Abu Sinan

    Sorry for the double post on my part. I have been all over the MENA and Europe and both of my “scary” incidents were in Belfast.
    In the late 1980s I was in Belfast looking to get some fish and chips when I noticed an unattended bag in the corner of the shop.
    As these places had been known to get bombed by devices I pointed out the bag to the shop owner who then called “999″ (emergency number in the UK) and the security services came, which scared me as much as the suspect device.
    The second incident was walking down the Falls Road in Belfast in the mid 1990s very early in the morning. A car with four men drove past with their lights off. They stopped about 50 yards ahead of me, paused, and turned around in my direction. The car sped up, with it’s lights still off.
    I didnt recognise the car, but I knew Loyalists would sometime cruise Republican areas at night looking for victims. The area I was in was a well known Republican area, but very close to an interchange with a Loyalist area.
    When the car turned around I took off running and jumped over a few walls, into the back yards of row houses and did this for a few streets until I thought I was far enough away.
    It might have been nothing, but then again I could have ended up with a bullet in my head in a vacant yard or a parking lot, guilty of nothing more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
    I am happy to say the only issues I had in the MENA was a problem with theft. You always had to watch your valuables, but I never felt like I was in physical danger.

  • http://hangingodes.wordpress.com Abu Muhammad

    You concerns and worries are justified as things are not very great in Pakistan. However, Lahore, as for now, is perfeclty normal. Except hours of elctric load shedding in many city areas. So lets hope and pray that everything remains normal and Mother and Baby Koonj remain in Allah’s aman.
    Communication is not so great. I e-mailed Dr. Shabana day before yesterday telling her about an event in LUMS and asking for her contact here in Lahore but she didn’t reply. I assume she doesn’t have a great access to internet.
    wassalam
    -AM

  • Shabana

    Other than baby-diarrhea, we are alhamdulillah well. But as Abu Muhammad notes, communications arent great. I just managed to obtain internet access yesterday.


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X