Running away from our saviours

Published: April 20, 2011

Who wouldn’t mind moving to a strange new land for a safe lifestyle

When George Fulton says he is returning to the UK for security reasons, it is understandable. When Pakistani men say they want to go to another country for the sake of someone else’s security, it’s unfortunate.

When I read a story about reports on how scores of young men were applying for jobs to serve as security officers in a Middle Eastern country my first reaction was don’t these people realise that they are needed in their own country.

Later, I came to know my maid’s son had applied for the same job. I was flabbergasted. She said:

“It is better that he guards another country instead of losing an arm or a leg in a blast here or becomes a mistaken target of a bullet that was not meant to kill him.”

I didn’t agree with it then but a few days later I had change my mind. We were on our way home, around midnight, in the office car. Near Firdous Market, in Lahore’s Gulberg, I noticed a police van was following us. Eventually it caught up with us and our car came to a halt.

Six men jumped out and surrounded our vehicle. One of the police officers literally pulled the driver out and pushed him to a corner. Another knocked at my locked door. I refused to lower my window and perhaps because they realised that a woman was sitting in the back seat, they moved away. The policemen hurriedly got back into their vehicle and drove away. Our driver returned, and told us that the policemen had mistaken the car for terrorists.

I thought to myself that how could the police have possibly taken us to be terrorists. Also the methods used by the police were, to say the least, unorthodox. And then it made me think of my maid’s son, who wouldn’t mind moving to a strange new land because he would at least have some semblance of safety.

I understood why someone would run away.

ayesha.jehangir

Ayesha Hasan

A sub-editor on the Lahore desk of The Express Tribune. She graduated from Kinnaird College with a masters in mass communication and is a Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Fellow of Journalism at DW, Bonn.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • http://Lahore Adnan

    That s why we face terrorist activities because our protector unable to differentiate between
    comman man and terrorist. Recommend

  • Ali

    What are you trying to prove here? That your car can’t be mistaken for another car? or that you can’t be mistaken for someone else? The police should have really come to the driver and asked him for his id etc right? but oh wait! we do live in a country where the police are targeted by people like you and suicide bombers alike every single day!
    What you don’t realize is that the police is a part of a society where ethical values have crumbled to the core. If people want something to change then first they should stop complaining about being stopped by the police and then at least do something to change police behaviour. Change would start when people stop paying the police bribes to get away with breaking traffic rules!
    I hate blogs where people keep on ranting about the problems in their own society and the truth is that they are part of the problem themselves!! Recommend

  • Tamoor

    police is always confused…Recommend

  • Baqar

    it is our national pass time to become more catholic than the pope. pakistan is at the brink of all sorts of proverbial failures and still the “true Muslim” are dying to reach bahrain to save a despotic ruler just becasue he is an Arab and anything that has arab connection becomes sacred in pakistan.

    none can be said about the police, here in karachi, people gets killed just yards away from police mobile and they just keep cleaning their nosesRecommend

  • Nadir El-Edroos

    The police force in Pakistan is under manned, under funded and poorly trained. So your car was stopped? Some times people complain that the police are not checking properly but then they dont like it when they are stopped. Agreed, perhaps the method employed was harsh and perhaps your driver shouldnt have been pulled out of the car. Then again, assuming that a vehcile was carrying terrorists who dont think twice of killing themselves and those around them, how else would expect the police to react? Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    My dear Ayesha, i fully emphatise with you here, its unfortunate that law enforcment in our country is abusing their power and harassing citizens instead of focusing on getting good intel, sometime I feel they do it intentionally. Just a few weeks back in Karachi i got assaulted by a ranger accusing me of lying to him about myself. It even featured on the ET letters to the editor ‘Two Slaps in my face’. I got slapped not for mistakingly missing their que to stop but on the accusation that I was lying. I mean seriously fear law enforcment officers almost as much as I fear religous bigots who get worked up over nothing.Recommend

  • Deen Sheikh

    @Nadir El-Edroos:
    It is not uncommon for law enforcment to use methods where people, ordinary citizens feel harassed.
    To the author id like to add, consider yourself fortunate, ur a lady, had a guy been in the back seat, he would have gotten a similar treatment to ur driver. They still turn the other way when ladies are in the car, young men get the worst ens of the stick.Recommend

  • parvez

    The incident with you could be catogarised as a bullying attempt. For every bully there is a bigger bully around the corner. Suggest you plaster your car with the word PRESS where it is clearly visible. That should do the trick.Recommend

  • Mustafa

    what exactly is it that the writer wants to say. A needless article to say the least.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/HIGHRaJa Ammar Raja

    Ayesha I strongly disagree with you. I once left Pakistan because of the very issues you mentioned and lived seven years in England but now I am back. While I was in England I always missed Pakistan and always used to think was I right to leave Pakistan? Look Pakistan is our Country we have to solve our country’s problems if we run away from our Country who is going to change these horrific things?

    I have started a forum for youth in Azad Kashmir to speak up because I want all the people to speak up collectively against all the malice in our society to change it. By uniting we can achieve wonders but if we keep on running away from our problems we won’t reach anywhere. Just tell me how long somebody can live like a second grade expatriate in any foreign country we have to come back sooner or later. So why leave our country in the first place, please don’t give up on your country and try to make it a better place for everybody to live.Recommend

  • ayesha

    @Ali:
    It’s not about stopping us for security checks! It’s about the way they stopped us and behaved, pulling the drivers office ID around his neck and taking him to a corner. If they are targetted, we too are not safe. It doesn’t mean they start horrifying us as if something has gone wrong…and that too after taking us to a dark corner off road!
    This is the time when terrorists disguise themselves as policemen and what not.
    My whole point in writing about it is that it’s unfortunate that people are running away because of such issues, in the time our country needs them most!!! Don’t forget innocent people get arrested on fake issues and given a hell of a time in jails just because of such ‘ending-nowhere’ searches!
    To make the citizens feel safe, the enforcement needs to act properly and not worsen the issue. I live in Cantt, the area with most pickets and security checks, TRUST ME I don’t mind my car being stopped and searched daily, waiting in long queues, because I realise it’s for the sake of our safety and security.Recommend

  • Maria

    Somehow I feel you have exaggerated what really happened. Out of nowhere they ran up to your car and dragged out your driver but knowing you were a woman they didn’t drag you out? Meaning they can be randomly abusive to your driver, a stranger, but they suddenly became chivalrous when they saw you were a woman, a stranger ? Come on. Pakistan is dealing with anti state criminals who are being funded from abroad and who aim to hurt innocents. I am sure that our police randomly stop and check cars and vehicles. I have seen people at check points complain to the security personnel as to why they should be subjected to scrutiny. We all think that we are above the law. It should apply to someone else but not to us. This is part of the problem with Muslim nations, Pakistan included. If we all empathize and understand the challenges faced by our underfunded security folks, we would have a greater appreciation of the work they do. They will and should continue to search all of us until every last anti state criminal is stopped. I believe in my country. Let the driver’s family get killed in some corrupt Arab state. We can all see the turmoil that all Arab states are suffering from Yemen to Syria to Egypt to Tunisia. What does that have to do with the millions of Pakistanis who wish to work for their own homeland?Recommend