Friday, September 22, 2023
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The Real Cliffhanger

Abdus Sattar Abbasi

I missed my flights thrice in my life at Dubai, Dushanbe and Islamabad airports. Flights were closed earlier than the scheduled time in all three instances. The Dubai incident cost me significantly, Dushanbe delayed for a few hours with a sad ending of the day because when we landed at Khujand airport my phone was flooded with messages from Pakistan about the assassination of Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto and expected eruption of riots in the Country.

During early 1990s, after a hectic day I rushed from Abbottabad to catch a flight from Islamabad for Lahore to attend an important meeting, then roads were not that good to travel between Abbottabad and Islamabad. We were two at the counter trying to convince ground staff to help us aboard but all in vain. I instantly decided to travel through a coach from Moti Mahal Rawalpindi; when I boarded, I was a bit upset to notice only one passenger in the coach, the driver instantly guessed and convinced me that it will take a few minutes to depart, in the meantime I better enjoy the latest hit the Cliffhanger.

I started watching inattentively but suddenly I starched my seat and plunged into the film. Hero attempted to rescue a lady from a zipline but failed. Screaming of the character and leaving a glove in the hand of a lead for the depth of mountains was indeed engaging.

The same happened when I was watching the Battagram rescue operation. Hanging cable car with eight lives onboard, TV anchors giving update that when a helicopter approaches the cable car children start crying loudly. A commando attempting to approach was struggling due to the second string of the zipline, trying to handle strong wind and above all being extremely vigilant to avoid any tragedy during the rescue operation. It was so tense, that needed real nerves to absorb the pressures which even we were feeling hundreds of miles away from the scene through TV screens.

Then a bit of relief with the news that one of the trapped persons has been rescued. When I observed an individual, later we came to know Sahib Khan, right in the center of the zipline attempting to approach the cable car that reminded me of the same scene of the Cliffhanger but it was real while that was a drama. Finally, the arrival of the last four persons with Muhammad Ali Swati was also inspiring.

We certainly appreciated, but most of us have already forgot the heroic action of a driver taking a long vehicle filled with petrol caught in fire away from the population to make sure that no one is hurt. Viral video of the incident on social media was simply breathtaking and seemed like a scene from a film, a person is driving a huge vehicle engulfed in flames trying to save human lives putting himself in extreme danger.

We also forgot a bus driver who saved the entire Sri Lankan team in a hail of bullets. We can only imagine the happening when escorts are already martyred, there are bullets hitting the bus from every direction and a brave person rescuesa bus from the clutches of terrorists. It takes real determination and unwavering courage.

I am penning down my impressions after observing comments on my Facebook post. I wrote, “A movie on successful cable car rescue operation can gain global popularity”. I was expecting appreciating comments for those who participated in the operation and also kudos to the idea. But majority of response wereconfusing e.g., a sarcastic comment, “Yeah, we are good in dramatizing”. Another comment says, “By the way, film is already in the progress”.

I was surprised to notice a comment, “Too funny”, why it is too funny, it was indeed a difficult operation and it concluded successfully. We have all the right to celebrate and appreciate, which we actually did a day after the incidence and awarded certificates to all those who participated in the rescue operation. The most astonishing comment was, “In the proposed film it will be difficult to portray a villain, otherwise entire film will be censored”.

There wasn’t any villain in the entire episode, everyone had risked their lives to evacuate trapped in the cable car.

We appreciate and recommend movies based on war stories like Black Hawk Down, Zero Dark Thirty, Lone Survivor, American Sniper etc. We also admire heroic movies and dramas. Even Bollywood has started making movies based on fabricated stories of bravery during the Iraq war, so-called war against the terrorism and spying operations.

Such movies secure very good business from around the globe only because of strong story and good cinematography. This medium has a significant impact on masses and influences coming generations.

Why are we unable to develop movies and dramas on real life events that exhibited unmatched bravery and courage? Why are we hesitant to admire our own, visible and undeniable, instances of bravery and courage? Why are we skeptical about sincerity of our heroes? Why we fail to admit the genuineness of the courage our brave people exhibit during catastrophes?

We have a long list of heroic deeds during disasters of last few decades including earthquakes, floods, accidents, terrorist attacks and so on. We certainly recognized them through national awards but that only earn a single statement in the media that these people have been presented with national awards for their brave undertakings.

We need to promote actual events of bravery and courage through every medium from writing stories and books to making films and dramas to instill the sense of pride in our masses and coming generations.

Irrespective of affiliationseveryone who participated in the Battagram rescue operation is our hero. We can develop several independent dimensions of the operation, portraying importance of every segment of the society during challenging times.

I hope we will learn from these incidents and will continue to help each other during calamities as we have been doing throughout our history and at the same time will not be stingy in praising those who exhibit bravery and courage during catastrophes.

Abdus Sattar Abbasi

Associate Professor Management Sciences and Head, Center of Islamic Finance

COMSATS University (CUI) Lahore Campus, Pakistan

Tweets @drabdussattar

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