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A young man played a prank which got nearly the whole nation or at least the city of Karachi involved and in an atmosphere of despondency born out of unemployment and rising prices added to the doomsday atmosphere, which is fueled every day by similar news.

This young man, Tahir Mehmood, has a very strange story to tell. According to him, He was depressed due to financial problems and decided to end his life.

As he is a cab driver he drove to the beach at Clifton in the early hours of morning and after parking went towards the sea with the intention of jumping in but suddenly changed his mind and started going back to his car when out of nowhere 4 people appeared who doused him with a mysterious spray which made him lose consciousness and when he regained consciousness he was in Nazimabad.

He somehow managed to reach home, from where his wife and brother took him to a hospital.

I know this is quite a fairy tale and this young man is the last person to be trusted given his earlier threats to jump into the sea which were perhaps just aimed at frightening his family. If his earlier threat was a hoax than how can anyone believe his other story about the mysterious four which looks right out of some James Bond thriller.

The young man has been booked by the police, and for good reason. A lot of taxpayer’s money was spent in trying to retrieve his body from the sea as everyone believed his fairy tale and his family was anxious to retrieve his body for his last rites.

The police and rescue teams combed the sea, and this in itself was dangerous work, putting their lives unnecessarily at risk. No idea what the penalty would be, but such pranks should be discouraged, as already our civic agencies are under pressure, given the rise in crime in the city and tons of garbage strewing our cities.

Our agencies would be better employed doing serious work than looking for young men playing pranks on them and their own families.

Playing pranks is a global phenomenon, and there have been some famous pranks that have been recorded in history. An interesting prank that harmed nobody was a BBC World Service news announcement in 1980 that reported that Big Ben would be given a digital display. Not only that, the clock’s useless hands would be given away to the first four people who called in. Most people reacted with shock and anger, as Big Ben is considered a national symbol, but one Japanese seaman immediately called the station with hopes of claiming his prize.

Another famous prank was played on the people of Sydney, Australia, who awoke one day to find a gigantic iceberg floating in Sydney Harbour. Days before the prank, electronics entrepreneur Dick Smith had announced that an iceberg he had towed from Antarctica would be arriving in Sydney the following week. The public was agog at the spectacle—the Australian navy even called Smith to ask if he needed help mooring his iceberg—until a rainstorm revealed the iceberg for what it truly was: A barge covered in sheets of white plastic and fire-fighting foam.

How involving the police and wasting their time is punishable in law can be ascertained from an incident in which a disc jockey in San Diego, California, went on the air and told listeners that the space shuttle Discovery would be landing at a small airport nearby instead of Edwards Air Force Base.

As a result, over 1000 people crowded the tiny airport, backing up traffic and prompting hundreds of children to miss school. A furious police department billed the station for the manpower needed to redirect traffic.

This incident clearly demonstrates that pranks that waste the time of civic agencies should not be tolerated and the young man in Karachi clearly violated this principle and not only put his own family through terrible tension and apprehension but forced our law enforcing agencies to waste their time in a wild goose chase when they could be protecting us from rising street crime in the city.

Frankly, Karachi in the present situation is not exactly a place where such dangerous pranks can be played. The young man and his family should be grateful that they escaped without much harm and should use this experience to sort out their problems domestically without involving city authorities or law enforcing agencies unnecessarily.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2024

Zia Ul Islam Zuberi

The writer is a well-known columnist


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