Stories about security

Help! Our police needs help

There he stands; his black uniform stretched across a protruding belly, he has a certain fondness for chai and ‘pieces of paper with pictures of the Quaid’. This is the image that comes to mind when one thinks of a Pakistani policeman. In the pre-Musharraf era, crime was a major problem. Mustering the political will to clean up the police force was hard because the political elite found it useful to make alliances with certain police departments. Two important things have changed since then. Firstly, another threat has emerged, the militant threat, which attacks not only the common man but ...

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The paradox of the female suicide bomber

The Taliban’s claims of the presence of female suicide bombers in their ranks remain paradoxical. In the past, they have asserted that they do not target women (hence they denied involvement in Benazir Bhutto’s assassination) nor use women as tools in war. However, both these claims seem to be false. Using female bombers The Tehrik-i-Taliban Swat chapter has been involved in the rampant killing of women. One of their well known victims was the former member of Swat district council Bakht Zeba. She vehemently criticised the Taliban for preventing girls from attending school. As a result the Taliban unleashed their wrath. They dragged ...

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Adding guards to your entourage won’t end terrorism

News that President Zardari may be getting foreign guards for his private security sent my cranial wheels turning. Despite Farhatullah Babar’s vehement denial of the report, I will not be surprised if there is a germ of truth in this statement, given security concerns after the late Punjab governor’s assassination. Government officials often come under heavy criticism for the excessive use of security personnel – is Zardari hoping to top that list? As a citizen witnessing the gravity of the security situation in my country, I can understand why officials need to be protected. As citizens, we want our government ...

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Is Pakistan your heaven or hell?

On January 20, 2011 PM Gilani announced the inauguration of Parliament Lodges Phase II. The construction will spread across four acres of land and the initial building will cost Rs2.9 billion. The entire project is set to be completed in 36 months. The lodges include 104 residential family flats, a gymnasium, mosque, meeting rooms and five servant quarters. Earlier, Gilani also discussed reintroducing a proposal to construct a tunnel that led directly from the parliament house to the parliament lodges so that the security of parliamentarians could be ensured. Interestingly, in the same address he talked about Pakistan’s economic crisis. Our government ...

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Police check points: Learning to be less critical

Be it individuals or society as a whole, we rarely waste any opportunity to be critical. It seems to have become part of our nature. From the common man to the so-called intellectual class, we all are astute in passing out judgments. And the trend extends to the media as well. Anything positive hardly falls in the category of “breaking news”. On my way back home from work, I have to cross at least three police barricades, as do many of us. I will not be going into the merits and demerits of these check points. My focus, today, is on ...

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Islamabad Etcetera: The navab’s guard of desi farangis

This little preamble shall serve as a disclaimer, for in one’s present attempt, one is by no means being actively obnoxious or wilfully indelicate about one’s chosen subject today, fellow compatriots. Taking swipes at one’s countrymen is nearly always construed as bad taste. Some creeping abasement, some personal impulsion staining one’s argument, denying its objectivity. But regardless of this oft-resorted to response, one will press on. Pakistanis in the employ of foreigners are a special breed.  Like a Gunga Din, an Uncle Tom, these trusted servants, like their literary or historic forebears, are a buffer to their employers, factotums who ...

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Why should I live in Pakistan?

It’s not okay when you switch on the TV to find out that someone you know has become a victim of target killing. It’s not okay to see that because it leaves you with a hundred unanswered questions about why you are still living in this country. That’s how I felt yesterday when I heard the news that Wali Khan Babar, a fellow reporter and my senior in university, was shot dead in an incident of target killing. As the news kept flashing images of him over and over again, I was reminded of him – clad in huge sunglasses and ...

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Why I broke the law at the Islamabad airport

While working abroad, not many of us can afford to go back to Pakistan for a visit as often as we like. In 2009, when I finally had some time (and $1700 to spare), I landed in Islamabad. Two weeks flew by and I found myself at the Benazir Bhutto International Airport, ready to head back to the US. As I handed my passport to the official looking security fellow, he looked at my face and said: “ji, aap kay pass protector nahi hai” (you do not have a protector). With my passport handed back to me, I was dismissed. Having no clue what ...

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I don’t want to make New Year’s resolutions

With the start of 2011, everyone all over the world is busy finalising their resolutions for the new year and assessing their efforts at accomplishing, or perhaps failing, to meet their goals for the previous one. In my opinion, New Year resolutions may not be such a great idea for the people of Pakistan. The reason is clear and simple. Every morning, many of us leave for office, children leave for school, college or university, not knowing whether we will reach our destination safely or even return home safe and sound. Even those who stay at home fear for their loved ...

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What about the non-VIPs?

While on my way to cover an event I was made to deviate from my intended route as the police stopped me amongst a dozen other motorists in order to allow a ‘VVIP’ to pass through.  The first thing that went through my mind was, “Are they really worth my time and my life?” The answer is, no. I had to travel a good extra couple of miles to get to another intersection where I joined a long queue of vehicles piled up at a police check point. I stopped myself from delving into a motivated judgment and decided to wait ...

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