Police encounter and my brush with death

Published: November 1, 2012
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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.