Police encounter and my brush with death

Published: November 1, 2012

Now, with at least half a dozen policemen towering over me, I was rudely interrogated (you know how they do it), while none of them bothered answering my question about what wrong I had done. PHOTO: REUTERS

Recently something bad happened to me and this completely changed my views about preferring to live in Pakistan. I had first-hand experience on what it feels like to know that your name might soon be added to the list of “missing persons” and this confirmed just how insecure one’s life and future is living in this state.

While driving to a friend’s place (I was all by myself; no driver or friend with me) a policeman astride a bike suddenly blocked my way, followed by another making a ‘forced’ entry into my car. I was ordered to pull over and then coerced into stepping out of my vehicle.

Shocked, I saw a number of other gun-toting policemen also come hurtling towards me. Now, with at least half a dozen policemen towering over me, I was rudely interrogated (you know how they do it), while none of them bothered answering my question, rather please, about what wrong I had done.

Even though, I repeatedly explained to them that they must be mistaken and that I was no terrorist, they kept on bombarding me with questions ─ rather senseless ones. Then one of them blurted:

“You should be grateful to us for not shooting you!”

That’s when I thought it’s better to shut my mouth, stop protesting and speak only in response to their questions.

Now, while I was still being interrogated, I espied a police mobile van also approaching us. To my dismay, I could see even more personnel of law enforcement agencies jumping out of it and racing towards me. At this moment I could very well picture my mother in the near future holding my photo before journalists, standing amongst people at protests regarding “missing persons”.

Fortunately for me, one of them made a rather ludicrous announcement to my interrogators:

“It is a Corolla we were supposed to track; this is not it. This is a Honda!”

God! I never knew our police was this stupid!

This announcement, though it was outrageously comical, finally convinced them of my innocence. However, now instead of apologising me for the harassment that I never deserved, they shamelessly commended each other for their foolish stunt:

“Anyways, shabaash (well done), good effort!”

Reflecting on this day fills me with a sense of insecurity and horror. Had I been shot ─ which they repeatedly reminded me of ─ who would have been held responsible? I, indeed, am ‘grateful’ to them for not shooting me, for one could expect anything from a police that, instead of controlling the criminal elements during demonstrations, ends up shooting media persons! Remember the ARY staff member who was shot dead on Youm-e-Ishq-e-Rasool?

I have always been one of those who prefer living in Pakistan over moving abroad. All that has ever mattered to me is the respect one enjoys living in one’s own homeland. The prospect of seeing my self being treated as a second class citizen has always prevented me from even thinking of pursuing a career abroad. Although, my skills as an engineer can land me a much better job overseas. However, this experience of mine caused my views undergo a change and I felt disgusted with living in this state.

This feeling only lasted for a couple of days, though, thankfully.

Now when that fit of rage I suffered from, as an aftermath of that harassment, is over, I have once again regained my calmness; I feel that my patriotism has rather got a boost.

I reckon that if we, the youth of this nation, surrender and instead of coming forward to change the status quo, we choose the easier path of abandoning this country and the sun will set on it forever. It is the youth, which now has to grab the reins and help this nation struggle out of the quagmire it is helplessly trapped in.

Former US president John F Kennedy has very rightly said,

“Ask not what your ‘country’ can do for you; ask what ‘you’ can do for your country.”

Thus we should never forsake this country saying it has nothing to offer. We should never be those selfish beings that use the resources of this state to stand on their own feet and then disappear when it is time to repay the debt.

This warped polity of ours is repeatedly going to subject us to such doses of harassment, but we must never make any hasty decisions and must never abandon our homeland. We ought to persevere and strive to bring a change for our coming generations. Never give up, for we are the citizens of a state, created by a man who proclaimed,

“Failure is a word unknown to me!”

Saim Khan Jhagra

Saim Khan Jhagra

A graduate from NUST, Pakistan, Saim likes to write on social and political issues.

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

  • I.

    This incident u narrated seems to be an exagerated one.
    I’m sorry I might be wrong,bt that’s how I felt.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    I have no doubt this happened. They were looking a criminal, and mistook your car and you for it. You are right. Had they shot you, and then later realized their mistake, it would have been made to look like a kidnapping. The police should apologize to you. I hope you aren’t making matters worse for yourself by publishing this blog. Recommend

  • Rashid Ahmed

    Good for you that you paid attention to the adverts saying “Mae tae Honda e laen saa” :PRecommend

  • http://Www.google.com Saeed swabi

    You need be gratful you were let go,you kn0w,how our police convert a deer into elephant.Recommend

  • Ayesha Pervez

    Take my Passport and exchange places with me… Im dying to move back to Pakistan! :P well on a serious note,,, sad incident but very amateur writing. Recommend

  • Ayesha Pervez

    Umm one more thing Saim, what makes you think that those who live abroad are treated as second class citizens? Thats not true. We are treated very well here, as a matter of fact, I have rented my basement to a white (pure Canadian) upper middle class guy and he addresses us as “sir”… lol… does that sound like Second class treatment?Recommend

  • Jamal Aslam

    @Ayesha Pervez:
    I guess the writer has made mention of the fact that he is an engineer—not some professional writer. I feel its pretty decent writing coming from a non-professional.
    And if I am not wrong, he is of the opinion that we should not leave our country despite its flaws. Why, then, would you feel the need to offer him his passport? I guess it’s an offer that carries no value. Recommend

  • Jamal Aslam

    Well Siam if the incident is true, you need to be thankful to God besides the policemen ;) Recommend

  • http://www.kabacreations.com Vishnu Dutta

    Are you a minority? if not then dont worry, they wont shoot you..Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    @Ayesha Pervez:

    hahaha this white dude should totally read the comments here and be creeped out by his landlady discussing the honorifics he uses to address her. Recommend

  • Rabiya Asad

    I liked and agreed with the article but I had a problem with the concluding paragraph. What gives anyone the right to judge the intentions and circumstances of those who choose to move abroad? My parents did not just “suck up the resources and then failed to contribute when it was their turn to do so.” My father continues to hold a great amount of love for Pakistan, and sometimes he does want to move back but their was a lot of responsibility and burden on his shoulders as the sole provider for our family of five members. And he was extremely put off by the amount of unfairness and corruption in the system (my father had a government job for example and he was often confronted by people who were working in grades lower than his but leading extremely luxurious lives), and while it is very easy and idealistic to argue that one ought to stay behind and change the system, we know that these things are easier said than done. My uncle who has moved to England now was a doctor in Pakistan, and when he saw his fellow doctors conducting private practice when they were supposed to be working their shifts at a government hospital and using the equipment of the government hospital for their private practice, he confronted them and was condemned for doing so. You are entitled to your opinion that people ought to stay behind and work for the betterment of society, but you do not have the right to judge those who move abroad. Recommend

  • Rahim ALi

    Living abroad (white countries ) means face racism every day Dude… however i love to move back to Khi but i cant because of security situation however one day i’ll and i m so proud to be PAKI !!! wish i can do more for my country … only $$ sending back home is not enough …Recommend

  • Ayesha Pervez

    @Noman Ansari:
    My tenant doesnt read ET blogs… come to think of it,,, maybe I should introduce him to this place. It rocks! :)Recommend

  • Ayesha Pervez

    @Jamal Aslam:
    You took my offer way too seriously. :) Did you really think I would give my passport away? And yes he is not a professional writer but for a forum like ET blogs, I expected better vocabulary than “something ‘bad’ happened to me.” Recommend

  • Saim

    I understand it’s hard to believe when you yourself haven’t been through something like this. But believe me—this is no exaggeration, this is exactly what happened to me.

    @Noman Ansari:
    Hope no policeman reads my blog ;)

    @Rashid Ahmed:
    Yeah thank God. I had a “HONDA”. You see another advantage of owning a HONDA ;)

    @Vishnu Dutta:
    Although, “Saim” sounds much like “Sam” i am not a minority :)

    @Rabiya Asad:
    This is not at all meant to hurt our brothers and sisters living abroad. My expression of disapproval is directed towards those, we come across in our colleges and universities, always speaking against the country, saying things like they’d leave this country whenever they get the chance to and that it is not worth living at all etc. etc.Please don’t take it personally.Recommend

  • Ayesha Pervez

    Ok and Saim chose to ignore my comments because I criticised his writing… fine fine… but remember you ll never grow and learn without some criticism. :DRecommend

  • Jamal Aslam

    @Ayesha Pervez:
    Lol. I knew I’ll get that from you, for my remarks regarding your ‘passport offer.’
    As for the vocabulary, I agree with you for the first sentence. However, the rest of it is fine. I won’t be hard on him.Recommend

  • Sunil

    Man – should you choose to leave, may I please request you to live in a country where Islam is practiced by the majority? Not one of our human countries.

    Please Please…. !
    Thanks for your kind consideration….


  • Dq

    Run away people…from the land of thieves…before you get busted forever…Recommend

  • Ali

    Can we ever expect something useful from our police?Recommend

  • http://flickr.com/azmimalik Azmat

    I made this mistake once of not stopping at a police check point and faced the same consequences, do pay attention to stop signs they make and abide them.Recommend

  • https://www.myweb.com wasim

    huuuhhhh, this is rediculous.. but thanks to ALLAH, who protected you from these khenzeeerssss…..Recommend