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For infant’s death, colonial-era ‘Blue Book’ to blame

By Ebad Ahmed
December 24, 2015

Protocol procedure prepared during British rule still being applied


It is a colonial-era protocol procedure documented in the form of the “Blue Book” that is to blame for the death of a 10-month old girl outside the Civil Hospital on Wednesday after her father was denied entry into the medical facility by security personnel because Pakistan People’s Party chairman and the Sindh chief minister were there for the inauguration of a trauma centre.

Zafarullah Khan, the executive director of the Centre for Civic Education, said the Blue Book of protocol was a classified document that spelled out a comprehensive security plan that was followed during VVIP movements.

“It’s a relic of the colonial era,” he said.

“It was further given additional mandate during [former president] Musharraf’s tenure when commandos were assigned security duties too.”

Khan said the Blue Book needed to be changed if the incidents such as the one that occurred outside the Civil Hospital had to be prevented.

He also lambasted the presence of VIPs at the inauguration of projects. “We are the only country where VIPs arrive for laying the foundation stone of a project, then for its inauguration and later their names are put up there even though it is built with the taxpayers’ money.”

Najmi Alam, the president of the Pakistan Peoples Party’s Karachi division, disagrees with Khan’s views.

He condemned the incident but added that given the current security situation in the country, the application of the Blue Book was needed more than ever before.

“You can’t compromise on security measures. Whenever they get chance, the anti-state elements will attack us,” he added.


‘Status symbol’

Senior analyst Mazhar Abbas told The News that the Blue Book was only a reflection of status symbol and had turned into a cultural problem under the pretext of security. 

Abbas, though expressing his reservations over the Blue Book, noted that some of the guidelines it carried were not even being followed properly.

“The protocols of provincial ministers and MNAs are not included in the book,” he noted.

“The elected representatives can’t enjoy private security but still it is happening everywhere especially in cities,” he added.

The seasoned journalist said the book must be reviewed and discussed in the legislature and amended so that the masses did not suffer because of the luxury of a few”

“Even in the colonial era, the masses did not have to suffer as much because of traffic restrictions as they do now at the hands of their own elected representatives.”