THIS is with reference to the letters ‘The stadium agony’ (Nov 18). The two writers rightly pointed out the inconvenience that is caused to area residents and patients trying to reach the two main hospitals located in the vicinity as security officials block all roads leading to the National Stadium, as was the case with the recent Pakistan Super League (PSL) matches.

While adding my voice to the points raised, I wish to take the matter a little further. People at the helm have been organising PSL in Karachi and other cities to prove to the world that Pakistan is safe and terrorism-free. If that is true, one wonders why there are overzealous security measures on such occasions. On the flip side, if there are real security concerns and threats, why do we have to have a public activity that puts the country at risk?

Pakistan was dubbed the epicentre of terrorism and has now succeeded to a great extent in getting rid of the label of a rogue or terrorism-sponsoring state after a string of military operations over the years. Our security officials have given great sacrifices to achieve this success.

If, God forbid, something evil happens during the PSL and any foreign or even a local player is harmed, would not we be back to square one? Should we have such activity and risk losing all what we have achieved after so much bloodshed? Besides, the world community is not so naïve or ignorant that it cannot assess the actual security threat in the country.

Another million-dollar question is: how much did we spend on this cricket activity, especially on security? One could see fleets of security vehicles and an armed security personnel standing every 20-25 metres all along the route to the stadium.

It looked as if we were in a war zone with even military helicopters hovering overhead. Once when I was near Karachi Gymkhana, I was shocked to see a navy Sea King helicopter thundering over my head just a few feet above the buildings. I wondered what an anti-submarine helicopter was doing in that area at such a low altitude, and how much taxpayers’ money was spent on such extravagant security measures.

Do we see such overenthusiastic security steps even for Olympic Games? Countries do have security apparatus in place when needed on such occasions, but it is usually silent and invisible.

And, finally, is it a wise step to spend billions of rupees on a game already tainted with match-fixing when we have a struggling economy running on international loans and friendly doles? The critical sectors, like education and health, are in a poor shape.

Should not we review our policies and set our priorities right and spend the borrowed money where it should be spent?

Riaz Ahmad

Published in Dawn, November 20th, 2020