Massages for the powerful

The small, but important, Chinese establishment in Islamabad

By all accounts, the zealous promoters of virtue from Islamabad’s Lal Masjid went too far when they abducted nine Chinese nationals for running a brothel under the familiar guise of a massage parlour. For several reasons: China is an ‘all weather’ friend that Pakistan just cannot afford to annoy. But also because Islamabad’s powerful—including Chaudhry Shujaat Hussain, leader of Pakistan’s ruling party—used to patronise that establishment to relax their weary muscles.

So it was that the hostages were released rather promptly. Why? Well, the situation escalated rather rapidly. In almost no time (on the diplomatic time-scale) ambassadors of each country were talking to the top leaders of the other. The leaders of Lal Masjid were told that they had gone too far this time. And coincidentally, Khalid Khawaja, a former ISI official and a key supporter of the Lal Masjid brigade, was released from official custody.

Ultimately, Abdul Rashid Ghazi, Lal Masjid’s leader, announced that he had released the hostages in the interests of Pakistan-China friendship, on the government’s word that Islamabad’s massage parlours would be closed down.

The targeting of massage parlours and brothels is actually a political masterstroke. Not only does it have a form of religious sanction and public sympathy, but it also makes the capital city’s powerful elite a little weak in the knees. Extracting concessions becomes easy, but just like in any game of blackmail, there is a tenuous balance. Upsetting that balance—though overreach or under-protection—can be very counterproductive.

2 thoughts on “Massages for the powerful”

  1. Wouldn’t be surprised if this Chini massage parlor turns out to be staffed by Chini intelligence agents. Why risk life and limb servicing vice in the overzealous ‘land of the pure’ for whatever pittance Pakistani rupees the izlamabad clientèle might dish out? More likely, its power, access to high profile Porkis, and intelligence gathering that is at the heart of it all.

    Imagine these chini agents secretly fotographing and taping massage sessions with the likes of chaudhary shujaat and G_d knows how many other porki mantris and babus etc. Imagine the chokehold, the potential for blackmail, treason and indirect control of policy etc the chinis would then have via these tapes etc.

    And no, such ops are quite standard in first world espionage. (no, not quite as dramatized as in James Bond but you get the idea).

    And why else would chini diplomats (the deputy vice-roy in izloo after the US envoy who is the de facto viceroy) at the highest level talk to porki leaders and vice versa? For a half dozen massauers? Yeah, right.

    Methinks, we in India ought to keep a keen eye on chini (or Amriki or Roosi, for that matter) massage parlors that may be operating near Delhi or Trombay or …. you get the drift.

    Just a meandering line (curve?) of thought.
    /Have a nice day.

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