Gunman Holds Pakistan Capital Hostage: Security Failure and Media Spectacle Unfolds

One man… Two automatic weapons… One can of red bull... Holds a city hostage and demands a change. While this may sound like a trailer for a summer Hollywood blockbuster, it’s actually the gist of an intense five-hour standoff in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, between security forces and an armed man.

One man…

Two automatic weapons…

One can of red bull...

Holds a city hostage and demands a change.

While this may sound like a trailer for a summer Hollywood blockbuster, it’s actually the gist of an intense five-hour standoff in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, between security forces and an armed man.

Read more: Gunman Arrested After Armed Standoff in Islamabad

Glued to their screens, Pakistanis watched the madness unfold on Live television.

The man identified as Sikandar was firing his weapon indiscriminately over the course of the fiasco and was arrested after a dramatic shootout.  Police only managed to control the situation after a gutsy politician acting as a negotiator jumped on the gunman. The video above captures the scene.

Belonging to the country’s former ruling party, Pakistan’s Peoples Party (PPP), Zamarud Khan, was not injured and is now being hailed as the country’s hero. Some would argue that his actions were rather stupid because there were onlookers close by (including the assailants children) not to mention the risk to his own life.

The details are quite bizarre. According to local TV channel Express News, the man was asking for food after demanding that Islamic Law be imposed across the country and its current leadership removed. Reports mentioned that his wife and children were present at the scene and that his son ran to Sikandar after witnessing his father being shot.

The fact that the incident was without a fatality is rare for a country like Pakistan, which has long been a breeding ground for Islamic militancy in addition to suffering from political unrest. Government officials announced on Thursday that since the new leadership took office in June, more than 400 have died in terrorist attacks, according to local news reports.

While there have been no deaths reported so far, Sikandar’s shooting has the entire country questioning the competence of security forces and the role of local media.

Pakistani journalist and analyst, Raza Rumi, tweeted the following while the watching the drama Live.

The crazed man reportedly passed several checkpointsbefore being stopped for a traffic violation. It is common knowledge in Pakistan that when a vehicle has a family present, officials are less vigilant with security checks. It is unclear if that was the case with Sikandar.

One would imagine that under such scrutiny, terrorists have wised up to leniencies in security procedure and would probably not hesitate to use women and children to execute an attack.

The real kicker is that Pakistan’s capital has been on high security alert for weeks now because of terror threats and the gunman unleashed his automatic weapon less than a kilometer from the presidency and parliament buildings.

The media frenzy surrounding the attack was typical, as the news is viewed my most Pakistanis as a source of entertainment. And entertain they did.

Express News even televised a phone conversation with him.

News Director at another local TV channel, Arshad Sharif, publicly admonished his peers.

From the video coverage of several news networks, it was apparent that onlookers along with their families gathered at the scene to watch.

Journalist Zarrar Khurro tweeted on the spectacle.

Perhaps my favorite take away from the incident was when a local TV channel reported that the unstable gunman said, “I can’t even sleep. Did I come to the world to sleep?”
 
Judging by the way he was spotted drinking a can of Red Bull it was no surprise that Sikandar was sleep deprived.
 
Is this a publicity disaster or victory for Red Bull?
 
Watch the footage and decide.
 
Carbonated.TV