Zamarud Khan, I will not thank you for jeopardising peoples’ lives

Published: August 17, 2013

Zamarud Khan tries to pin Sikander to the ground. PHOTO: FILE/ EXPRESS

It was downhill from the start. The weak security that enabled Sikandar, a man armed to the teeth to gain entry into the most sensitive area in the country, the Red Zone in Islamabad. They allowed him and his family to hang around for hours in a bizarre stand-off with the entire police and security of the area. 

Casually smoking cigarettes and firing occasional shots into the air, Sikandar sauntered around easily, while his black clad wife trotted between her husband and the authorities delivering messages from one to the other. Meantime those in charge of security just stood there.

There are several things one could comment on here; the inability of the local security personnel to disperse the civilian gawkers surrounding the scene, the numerous missed opportunities of removing the threat when the armed man was sauntering around on his own, and could have picked off using rubber bullets, or by drugging the water that was provided for him and his family to drink. Eventually it took the intervention of one Mr Zamurd Khan to bring the standoff to an end.

Exactly who is Mr Zamurd Khan?

Like you and me, Mr Khan is a civilian. He is a lawyer by profession and has been a member of Parliament in the past. He is neither a member of any security agency, nor a specialist in the field of anti terrorism, combat, or even a psychologist.

While watching events unfold on television at home that day, Mr Khan was horrified (like you and me) and felt he had to do something about the situation. So he upped and arrived at the scene (potentially like you and me) and asked to be allowed to speak to the terrorist, and incredibly, amazingly, was allowed to do so.

In a script written for Inspector Clouseau, Mr Zamurd Khan walked on centre stage, passed his hand paternally on Sikandar’s wife’s head, shook hands with his children and then leapt onto that heavily armed man, slipped and fell, and lunged for his legs. Sikandar jumped backwards when Mr Khan suddenly collapsed on him, fell down himself, fired his guns, was fired at, and was eventually and mercifully captured.

Pakistan has an unlikely rogue’s gallery and an even more amazing gallery of heroes. The latest inductee appears to be Mr Zamurd Khan, who when interviewed after the event said that his ‘ghairat’ appealed to him and did not allow him to sit back and do nothing in the situation.

Pakistan’s ghairat brigade has to be its most beghairat component. It uses honour or ghairat to commit the most blasphemous acts. Maybe it was a similarly flawed concept of ghairat that prompted politicians to interfere in the job of the security agencies, something they apparently do quite regularly.

I suspect that the SSP Operations, Dr Rizwan, is actually the man to be commended because he was doing the best he was allowed to in the circumstances when he stood there, determinedly calm, trying to persuade Sikandar to lay down his arms.

If Mr Khan’s ghairat prompted him to do what he did, then there are several things that I too would like to do and the precedent set by Mr Khan must allow me to do them. Please note that it is nothing but the ghairat of every militant that prompts him to circumvent the law and take it into his own hands, and bomb/shoot/kill his way towards the acceptance of his demands. No person commits such acts without some conviction however flawed, and it is only a set of rules and the law that prevents (or should prevent) individuals from taking matters into our own hands.

It was not Mr Khan’s job to do what he did and he should not have been allowed to do it, however dedicated he may be to public interest. He was lucky his actions did not cause serious harm and it was that luck that played in his favour, not his act.

It is Pakistan’s unexpectedness, not its capabilities, that makes its enemies eye it with caution. There is no saying how Pakistan’s cricket team is likely to play or how the Pakistan Army is likely to respond to any given situation. Now, however, we have yet again another unpredictable act to add to our list; where else in the world would a civilian be allowed to intervene in police negotiations the way Mr Khan did and leave wreathed in laurels the way he did?

In my opinion, the only reason he cannot be arrested and charged for posing a potential threat to security is that he had permission from the police to do what he did. Mr Khan should at the very least be charged for placing public security in jeopardy.

It was not heroic, it was dangerous and against the law – there are no two ways about it.


Rabia Ahmed

The author is a freelance writer and translator.

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

  • ABC

    The gunman did fire at Zamrud Khan and actually hit a police officer. But this wasn’t reported a lot on the media the real hero the police officer who got injured was sidelined.

    All zamrud Khan did was make the police shoot at the guy to save him a situation the police had been trying to avoid. He didn’t even catch the guy; he tried and fell. Whats brave in that?Recommend

  • TahirF1

    @writer – so you would have preferred the gunman to continue the episode for many hours more? Was there any guarantee that the police would have ended the saga peacefully?
    Agreed that Zamurd Khan is a civilian and have no training whatsoever in safety&security or anti terrorism or combat and his action was not the right action but wasn’t 5 hours enough for our security agencies and police to end it? They are much to blame than one person who had (foolishly, albeit) helped ended that madness? Recommend

  • akbarali

    In Pakistan everyone pretend to be a hero so as Zamrud Khan, he did a foolish job to risk his life and others. such action should highly be condemned and brought under the law. Mr. Zamrud Khan did the same thing what Mr. Skinder was doing. Recommend

  • Wasim Ahmed

    They have water in car… Water bottle was in car duck… Please first get the full knowledge of incident and then write Blog…. Recommend

  • Jazzy

    Mam ! it was not red zone better correct your facts. You are just trying to provoke sensationalism by saying such things “a man armed to the teeth to gain entry into the most sensitive area in the country, the Red Zone in Islamabad”. Recommend

  • Ahmed Raza

    Yes it wasn’t his job; the only problem was that the people who were responsible for doing there job ranging from the interior minister to the cops on spot were not interested in doing it. People’s lives were in danger by their presence there not by Mr Zamarud Khan. Pakistanis are a truly thankless nation.Recommend

  • CDF

    it is pretty simple .only the police and other law enforcing agencies are authorized to handle such situations. while it took so long the incompetencies of our law enforcement agencies. Recommend

  • Bila Khan

    Remember, the person who go for negotiations must never ever attack. What Zamurd did is shamefull. Secondly, If Sikanadar had wanted to kill him it wasn,t difficult at all i.e. two guns enough bullets and such a big bull eye. I think zamurd sholud go to skindar and thank him for letting him go so cheaply. Thirdly when Skindar slipped out of Zamurd and raised his hands with guns then Zamurd had failed totally in his attemt. Where is his success for which he is getiing praise from top fools of the country i.e. Hamid mir, Kamran Khan, Ch. Iftikhar. ……..???

    Its really pakisatn …………. unpredictable in every fieldRecommend

  • adnan

    Zamarud Khan only jeopardised his own life. Ask any police officer he would tell you, Police conducted in a highly unprofessional manner. Dr Rizwan acted stupidly, a non professional man.Recommend

  • Kashif Ajmal Mali

    Only an “Akh Thoo ” is missing in your rant BB. Recommend

  • Ivehadit

    Finally a sane and persuasive analysis. Thank you for saying it like it is. Mr khan’s foolhardy actions put the entire theatre of the absurd into context. It was almost a scene from Midsummer Nights Dream. Recommend

  • Mishahid

    When the athourised gourds becomes paralyzed, confused, cowards and ‘begharit’ then ghaariat gourds come in. it always takes courage of mad to let the soundness prevail when wises of a nation choose to write bolgs and run live commentaries then taking any action. if you want to charge a civilian as thay are the best target for evry kind of trials then more suitable choice is choudry Nasar who caused national humiliation by ordering police to not take action against a crimal who was in state of encounter with police. ‘long live nogotiations’  ( i mean real Long) whether these are with butchers  commonly known as taliban or with a sole chanmpipn of sharia standing in heart o the capital with wo guns in hand.Recommend

  • mahmood

    no doubt that this situation has been completely somehow blown out of proportion…but i don’t agree with people saying that the police force did nothing….they actually did try to move the media personnel out of the way but they straightforwardly told them that we will file a case on you for mistreatment and bad behavior…this is how your media treats your police…they were not allowed to shoot the guy…and by the way assuming that mr.zamurd tried to grab the guy and he eventually got himself free…what if accidentally the boy standing near,his son had got shot due to all his bravery, then who would have been responsible for that?…Recommend

  • B Rizvi

    It’s all very well to slag people off instead of actually doing anything constructive. You need to take things in perspective. What you perhaps need to concentrate on is the fact that it was almost 6 hours and nothing was being done, despite all the security threats. What ZK done, was right or wrong, is a different thing, but there are plenty of issues and people who got exposed by this saga, so perhaps you should start writing a blog about those issues first and then give your opinion on someone who did something because what should have been done was not done in the first place. Recommend

  • Ali Rahman

    Rabia… am glad you are one of the few sane ones! Bless you. Recommend

  • Imran Ahmed

    What would make me very happy would be that every bully displaying weapons in public be immediately executed if he becomes a potential even remote threat to the lives of citizens including Police, BEFORE he can fire a single bullet. If he had remote controlled explosives in the car as he claimed, not killing him instantaneously could have resulted in many innocent deaths.
    Without political interference our security services would and should have shot the man instantly, instead a deranged guy was allowed to remain a threat to his own family and other people, repeatedly discharging automatic weapons.
    Zamurrad Khan is a dangerous criminal who took the law into his own hands and endangered numerous lives including his own. If there is any justice he should be put in jail for several years. This will hopefully discourage other would be heroes.Recommend

  • Tabish Shah

    I agree with you. That was not bravery at all. It was pure stupidity. Though right now he is considered as a “hero”. If the outcome was opposite, all those people who are considering him as “hero”, would be calling him a stupid man etc etc….Recommend

  • Zahid Jamil

    Great piece. Thank God for sensible bloggers. The medal should go to the SSP and the policeman who got shot. Maybe the injured policeman should sue Mr. Khan.Recommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    Thanks Rabia for writing this blog. Fortunately in Pakistan there is no more International cricket, otherwise Mr. Zamrud would not tolerate players dropping too many catches and would jump into the ground to take those catches.
    I am not happy with Ch. Nisar too. Why did he not allow police to use approriate force against this crazy person when he was shooting in the public. The guy had already crossed every limit and it was so easy to take him down on many occasions. The excuse that force was not used because his kids were watching is another B.S. When he was stopped by police at first check point, he abused police and many times after that in front of his children. Later he committed every criminal act in the book in presence of his own kids. This person should have been shot in front of his kids to teach them a lesson that their father was wrong and got what he deserved. Not punishing someone when he or she breaks law, abuse security forces and endanger lives of others sends very wrong message to kids. Our kids watch so many movies and read books in which evil is killed and good lives on. What difference it would make, if evil father is killed in front of kids.Recommend

  • LOL

    Maybe the nation of Pakistan should sue the entire Police, the Rangers, the Ministry of Information, as well as Rana Sanaullah. Usually, in other countries, acts of bravery are commended, despite the circumstances under which they happen. None of the police could get rid of a stupid, armed guy for 5 hours and it took one lunge to end the fiasco.What was the Police trying to achieve exactly, for the armed guy to fall asleep? Ridiculous. And PML-N comes in to save face in the end, trying to act responsible. There is no law and order anymore? What is it even supposed to mean that a guy ‘going for negotiations’ shouldn’t try to stop the gunman? Seems like a solid plan, maybe one of the Police officers could have attempted the same thing? Seems like they drain all the brain power from them in training.What kind of honor does a crazy guy with a gun, who threatens the life of his own wife and kids has? He deserves to be taken down. Recommend

  • ahmer

    Interesting to read the extremely jealous and ridiculous comments. However, it is this nations favourite pasttime to criticize rather then do.

    Zamrud Khan is a hero no doubt. The people criticizing have some vested interest in allowing this saga to continue. There is a plot in it somewhere as it seems to be giving the signal that anyone can come with a woman and child and confidently create havoc. It seems to be a practice run for something bigger. Unfortunately Zamrud khan dented those plans and has emboldened the peace loving people that they can take these terrorists on.

    Is it not strange that the police and security agencies were waiting for authority from high ups according to them. Do we need clearance before taking on killers and criminals / terrorists? It seems that the government wanted to start some sort of revolution through the actions of one insane person (sikander). Another question…why is it taking so long to trace who they were talking to on the phone all the time???Recommend

  • Imran Ahmed

    The point is made. Zamurrad Khan is being made into a hero instead of a particularly stupid person. Unless he is dealt with according to the law many other would be loose cannon heroes will be born.

    Ch Allah Daad – what a wonderful analogy … “Mr. Zamrud would not tolerate players dropping too many catches and would jump into the ground to take those catches.”Recommend

  • WB

    Then thank Nisar for giving us a show that lasted 5 hours and made us a laughing stock for the rest of the world!Recommend

  • Muhammad Ishfaq

    Haven’t you people got sick of Sikander yet????Recommend

  • Insaan

    Police should have brought a Mullah who is popular and working towards making Pakistan an Islamic countries. Most Pakistanis see Sharia and Islam in Pakistan as a solution to Pakistan’s problems. The only difference is this guy wanted to make a statement and make this process quicker.

    With automatic Machine gun he could have killed Zamrud Khan easily, I don’t think he wanted to harm people.Recommend

  • aamer

    @B Rizvi:
    Dear, what you are suggesting is that doing “something” irrespective of the potential consequences is better than doing “nothing”? What kind of logic is that? Do you think a price of 6 hrs standoff (or even 26 hrs, for that matter) is higher than the price of a life?

    Yes we do need to put things in perspective. And the perspective is that a civilian ZM did a far stupider thing than the stupid things being done by Police, media, by standers. However his action may not be more stupid than the reaction of the whole nation being unable to differentiate between stupidity and bravery.Recommend

  • Bilal Khan

    People who appreciate ZK must also salute all those terrorists whose “ghairat” does not accept the passage of American Weapons from their beloved mother land.
    Law is something that is nothing in front of “ghairat”

    Gee O Malangi GRecommend

  • Parvez

    Have to agree with you.
    The other thing is that the whole incident just rings false, like a badly fixed cricket match. I say badly because people got hurt.

  • naeem khan Manhattan,Ks

    I could not have agreed with you more. In Kansas, the public will be not be allowed in sight and any one brandishing automatic weapons and firing in the air would be brought down after few warnings to drop the weapons down to the ground. It was shameful affair in Islamabad, what do any one think about his kids being there, they should have been whisked away along with his wife. The security service has failed miserably and there is no excuse to it , do you think any one will resign for not doing their job, I doubt it very much.Recommend

  • Pak Monitor

    A very good piece. Thanks for bringing some sanity into the debateRecommend

  • Pak Monitor

    Thanks for a very sensible analysisRecommend

  • saeed leo

    Very nicely written….best article read so farRecommend

  • Saira

    A lot of versions are floating around about how Sikandar entered the area but there is one thing on security checkposts on way to Blue Area if they even try to check a car in which a family is traveling they are abused badly and in real bad words.
    What Zamurd Khan did was wrong if security police needed any distraction they should have think of something a little less dangerous than this. In Pakistan police is not given training about handling any situation like these police is considered as just help in these kind of situations. Recommend


    what other countries thinks and their views about this incident and what causes behind it? Anyone can share it ???Recommend

  • Ahmed

    Completely agree with the writer!
    Analysis is spot on!
    However, the writer missed upon highlighting shameful behavior of the media and many anchor persons – providing live coverage to the event——–Interviewing a rogue/mad man on live television——can only happen in Pakistan & this is not the first time —-Recommend


    i am agree with you but it is not good thing,our enemy country India is ready to invade but our rulers are sleeping.Media should avoid this kind of live coverage. what do you think???/ Ahmed Recommend

  • Ammar

    only selfish are not going to appriciate zamrud khan..he gave relief to the an operation like this ppl get injured.should have been solved in 15 mins. y to allow to man for 5 hoursRecommend

  • Sane

    Investigation is underway. Let’s see what was the role of Zummarad Khan in this planned stand-off.Recommend

  • Em

    Says who? The person sitting behind the screen, complaining about a man who actually did something?
    I apologize for the harshness, but we, Pakistanis, need to stop complaining about every single thing. Yes, it is correct that what “bravery” Mr. Khan showed could have jeopardized public security but goodness, luck played for him and things turned out fine. That is that. Recommend

  • Imran Ahmed

    Lack of discipline and lack of unity of purpose added to an admiration for loose cannon is a hindrance to progress in the subcontinent.
    Whether it is a hockey playing field, a traffic que, a theatre crowd, news reporting, war or police work many of us go berserk and some successfully achieve their goal but at great cost to compatriots.
    With 20/20 hindsight Zamurrad can be forgiven but his actions could have taken a big toll in lives.Recommend

  • SMHZ

    What ploice is doing at check points only creat problem for good citizens and other are free to do what so ever they like
    A single Pakistani Camando can do the batter job of Mardud Khan than why and who allow him to become hero.
    no one loss lose anything except PAKISTAN and PAKISTANI abroad whole world is lught on our nation and country.
    In next election Mr. Mardud Khan will use this as a flag.

  • Dr. Mohammad Afzal Khan

    The argument that Zamurud Khan put forward is that he could not have the *‘patience’ to watch the drama any longer.If that be true why object intervention by army when civilian governments in their view fail?
    If Zamurud Khan is a hero so is the army!
    Zamurud Khan should be charged with interfering with the official business of the security agencies.*Recommend