Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Bomb Detectors

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This piece appears in the July 2014 issue of Herald

When the army had just cleared Swat after my naraaz (upset) brethren, sinfully referred to as terrorists, had successfully converted it, once again, to Islam, I had occasion to visit the valley. Actually, I visited repeatedly over 2009-10. I proudly proclaim I was my brethren’s bomb supplier secretly helping them regain Swat since it had reverted to heathenism.

Having assembled my arsenal in the basement of my home, I followed the instructions of my handlers and very carefully packed the bombs in a lead box. Coated on the outside by colourful fibre with the logo ‘American Tourister’, this was the kind of box that could go through x-ray scanners without showing what was inside. It was also supposed to fool all other bomb detection device.

The first time at the army check post at Malakand Pass, I was, I admit, nervous. The man had this state of the art hand-held device with a telescopic antenna, the kind our portable radios had back in the 1960s. It was said that the antenna swung in the direction of concealed explosives. This was technically such a superior piece of engineering that few countries other than Iraq, Pakistan and Sudan had acquired it. Even fewer had heard of this remarkable invention.

Device in hand, the man walked past the vehicles lined up by the side of the road looking closely to see if the antenna moved. In fact, they looked so closely at the antenna that twice men tripped on the uneven surface and fell flat on their faces.

As he came abreast of me on the first bomb run, fearing my arsenal was about to be discovered, I nearly abandoned my car and fled. But the antenna did not swing and I was waved through. The first chance on the satellite phone, I congratulated my handlers in Miran Shah that their lead boxes were truly discover-proof.

Over the past two years I have been ferrying more bombs from Karachi by air. And again at the airport I’ve seen those high-tech devices being used to see through my lead boxes. And again I have sent up many a silent prayer for my handlers. And for those of the security forces who are on the take and let my bags on the plane. Aside: some of these latter we have to be thankful to for letting my Uzbek brothers into the old building for the recent bit of action.

After my friend Haroun Rashid falsely labelled the bomb detectors fake on Twitter, some smart-aleck at Dawn got on the band wagon with his silly report on the same accusation. The report says some British con artist called Jim McCormack designed these items and palmed them off at US$ 40,000 a piece to ‘unsuspecting security agencies around the world’. And who more unsuspecting than us poor Pakistanis, especially when a bank account somewhere gets a fat wad of dollar bills?

The Dawn report, obviously a complete falsification of facts, informs us that the honourable Mr McCormack was convicted of fraud by a London court. And you thought kangaroo courts and corrupt judges existed only in Pakistan. Shame on you.

Now if these superior pieces of the highest technology were fake, why would a country like Iraq get six thousand of them? Pakistan, being the security state that we are, is keeping the figure a closely guarded secret. We are also not telling that we have the better version that cost twice or thrice as much as what poor old bombed out Iraq paid.

But judging from the number of these devices I see at Karachi airport and those seen from Malakand Pass all the way to Kalam, I can estimate we must have close to twice as many as crappy old Iraq has.
I for one know well enough that these devices are a hundred percent effective – as indeed do our security agencies for they continue to use them. But I also know that my naraaz brothers working assiduously in the service of Islam, maliciously termed terrorist, are blessed with the lead box technology that can fool any detection device so far invented.

There is however the outside chance that McCormack actually scammed us. In that case he has done yeoman’s service to Pakistan. With all these surplus antennae at hand, we can revive our portable radio industry and there being no other country at it, we can earn billions of dollars in foreign exchange by exporting them.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 11:30,


At 10 July 2014 at 21:19, Blogger Lahoremassagist said...

This humour is so scary sir.

At 10 July 2014 at 21:47, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In addition to Pakistan, the detectors were sold to security personnel, military and police forces around the world, including Afghanistan Bahrain, Bangladesh, India, Iraq, Niger, Kenya, Georgia, Romania, Belgium, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Tunisia, Syria, UAE, Egypt, Vietnam and Thailand.

At 11 July 2014 at 13:11, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Well, good old McCormack did pretty nifty business. SOB!

At 11 July 2014 at 13:12, Anonymous Salman Rashid said...

Dark humour, Nayyar. Very dark!

At 10 October 2014 at 11:14, Blogger Rehan Afzal said...

I actually got to inspect the gadgets first hand thanks to my friends in the Inspectorate of Armament. The ADE 651 is indeed a fake Bomb Detector, James McCormick is indeed a Con Artist


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Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand

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Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

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