| Team India senior pro Virender Sehwag arrives in Karachi amid heavy security |
Karachi: The locals insist that the security environment in this port city, Pakistans commercial capital, has improved appreciably in recent times.
Haalat behtar zaroor hain, is a fairly common sentiment.
Compared to the last visit by Team India (early 2006), there certainly appears to be more movement after dusk, even as late as around midnight.
On Tuesday, for example, there was heavy traffic at that time on the Shahrah-e-Faisal, the express thoroughfare which links the airport to the city centre.
Its on the Shahrah-e-Faisal, though, that an attempt was made to assassinate Benazir Bhutto on her return after a self-imposed exile last October.
Benazir was felled by an assassin two months later, but around 150 followers died in Karachi that night.
The spot where the suicide bomber blew himself up still bears signs of the carnage and PPP flags hang from possibly the most photographed lamppost anywhere.
Is jagah hi blast hua tha
Woh dekhen lamppost abhi bhi waisa hi (tilted) hai, the driver of The Telegraphs car pointed out.
Generally, of course, the Shahrah-e-Faisal is among the most patrolled of stretches and one can spot the Rangers gun-mounted vehicles every kilometre or so.
The security environment may be better, but that hasnt stopped the agencies assigned to protect the Mahendra Singh Dhonis from pulling out all the stops.
In any case, the ongoing Asia Cup is being treated as a trial for a much bigger tournament, the Champions Trophy, which will be hosted by Pakistan in September.
The security cover includes the presence of a shiny black Labrador, Max, at the official hotel (Pearl Continental) for the Asia Cup in the city.
Max, according to his handler, is an expert in detecting mines and clearly isnt given run-of-the-mill assignments.
Incidentally, for a while, the security personnel at the hotel did have creased foreheads on Wednesday afternoon.
Reason: Exams (indeed, yes) being conducted at the Pearl Continental by the College of Physicians and Surgeons. That led to considerable movement of outsiders around the time of Team Indias departure for the National Stadium.
Going by his body language, Max didnt seem too amused either.