Sir, we can’t control this. “Then ban it”

Basant was a thing of beauty and was one of those rare events where a truly cultural event gathered people from all over the world. Yes, the world. Lahore owned basant, regardless where it came from. Even Lahore Metblogs has a separate category just for Basant!
But you had to be living in a hole to not know that basant has been banned for some time. A petition moved sometime around 2005, initially by none other than the mayor of Lahore, Mian Amer Mahmood. Slowly but surely, you witnessed an exercise in ‘how to control and change a city’s very culture through the power of political will’. The reasons quoted were not many – two in fact, one being the loss to human life and the other being disruption in WAPDA’s electricity supply causing monetary loss.
But here’s how I see it all:
The ban on basant is silly. Loss of life and loss of the ever-so-present WAPDA supply are not reasons at all. And here’s why: the loss of life is not because the kite-flying itself is dangerous. Kite-flying has been around for quite some time. The murderous streak now automatically tagged with basant itself, has been introduced through the development of stronger string. A lot of people think that it is the razor-like solution that the string is soaked in that causes the string to be a knife-on-the-loose. Although the sharpness is part of the reason, the main reason is that the string itself is very strong. There was a time, I remember, when I was able to snap the string by pulling on it with both hands. It is a typical way of checking a string’s strength – tug at it and see when it breaks. But recently, I would notice that it has become harder and harder to just ‘snap’ the string. You would have to resort to either some serious pulling or just use to teeth to sever the string. It is the combination of ultra-strong string with razor-sharp solution (a.k.a. manja) that makes the string a killer.
The real culprit has always been the string itself, and building upon that, you can see that the makers of the string are also the culprit. And by culprit I mean the ‘reason’ for the chaos, not the guilty party (guilt is for the courts to decide, remember?)

The reason the basant was and is still banned is not because the festival has turned deadly, it is because some people have invented and then sold this killer string to a lot of unsuspecting people. In fact, the real reason is that the administration has found it beyond them to crack down on the few string producers that manufacture the deadly string.

6 Comments so far

  1. Adeel Sarfraz (unregistered) on February 11th, 2010 @ 11:45 am

    I agree that Basant should be celebrated. I also agree that it’s Lahore’s gift to the country and maybe to the world too. However this is where the agreement stops.

    People of Lahore or some group of people had gone mad by opting for chemical treated strings which were so dangerous that they slit the throats of countless innocent victims going on motor bikes and on foot. If the police say they cannot control the whole population (and they have a point) and they cannot guarantee that no one will lose his/her life over it then fine ban it.

    If the people who had been using these unlawful means had been caught and given exemplary punishment then this ban would have never happened.

    I believe if this ban saves lives of the innocent then I feel it’s worth it.


  2. Basant Ban | Lahore Metblogs (pingback) on February 11th, 2010 @ 6:02 pm

    [...] saddened me to read the post Sir, we can’t control this. “Then ban it” where the blogger citing reasons for the ban on Basant writes, “The reasons quoted were not many [...]


  3. insaan (unregistered) on February 12th, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

    well said.


  4. Global Voices Online » Pakistan: Let The Kites Fly (pingback) on February 17th, 2010 @ 4:25 pm

    [...] Momekh points out: “The ban on basant is silly. Loss of life and loss of the ever-so-present WAPDA supply are not [...]


  5. Global Voices in Italiano » Pakistan: terrà il divieto degli aquiloni per la festa della primavera? (pingback) on February 21st, 2010 @ 9:42 am

    [...] Momekh sottolinea [in]: “Il divieto sul Basant è ridicolo. La perdita di vite umane e la mancanza di elettricità [...]


  6. Pakistan: terrà il divieto degli aquiloni per la festa della primavera? | gli italiani (pingback) on February 27th, 2010 @ 12:23 pm

    [...] sottolinea [in]: “Il divieto sul Basant è ridicolo. La perdita di vite umane e la mancanza di elettricità [...]



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