Tahir Malik: VIP culture destroying lives, again

Published: October 11, 2014
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Tahir Malik (L) was shot by Abdul Qadir Gilani (R)'s personal guard as he was too close to his car.

Tahir Malik, 23, was a BCom graduate and was planning to study further and join a lucrative job perspective in Dubai. He was shot dead by the private security guard of former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani’s son, Abdul Qadir Gilani, while Qadir was on his way to distribute sacrificial meat.

The story is not news anymore in Pakistan. We have been insulated by insensitivity and have started taking such killings as mere statistics. We have all been victims of bigwig security protocols and the process of harassment occurs at many levels.

We are harassed on a daily basis. The first level is psychological, when a caravan of big scary cars passes by at an unimaginable speed and the guards hanging out, with heavy weapons in their hands, usher everyone aside with peculiar disdain and spite. There is always anger in their eyes, a signal of sorts saying “do not dare interrupt or we will shoot you”.

The unsaid communication is enough to keep ordinary citizens aside and clear the way as these so called VIPs have always something important, something urgent to get to.

The second level of harassment is the waste of our precious time and the unfair assumption that their time is far more important than ours.

The third, and physically fatal, level is when people die while waiting for the VIP caravan movement to end. The obvious, unnecessary obstruction in flood relief activities due to VIP protocols is a recent example.

Dr Samreen is a resident in Lahore’s Jinnah Hospital’s psychiatry department. I took her opinion on this issue.

“On an individual level, it causes anger, hopelessness, devalued self, distrust on the ‘system’, constant fear and anxiety about whether it can happen to us or not. And if all this can’t be expressed or solved, it leads to ‘learned helplessness’, a belief that no matter what one does, nothing can change it, so let it be and that’s when nations don’t progress.”

The horrid fate of Tahir embodies our collective fears as Pakistanis. We all have heaved a sigh of relief on countless occasions when we did not dare overtake a VIP’s entourage or did not respond to the guards’ snide to save our lives. We learnt the lesson that we would meet a similar fate if we dared to cross their path again, making sure to lower our eyes.

I drop my children to a renowned private school every day and face these obnoxious protocol situations on a daily basis. There is always that one child who’s accompanied by two protocol elite commandos (I suppose that was the purpose of forming our elite forces), along with green number plate cars and blue police mobiles. The kid’s caravan has “stay away” written all over it and obviously the right of way always belongs to them.

This protocol culture is imbibed in our society as our children don’t even question why these people are privileged. But I have learnt that we must not teach our children to question, as we don’t want them to face Tahir’s fate.

Tahir’s case is crucial to understand the fabric of fear intertwined in our society. The Gilani family defended it by saying that since one of their sons had already been abducted and are currently receiving many threats, Tahir’s disregard for space made them suspicious of the boy.

If we go by this paranoia logic, then we will endow every VIP (since all of them are under threat or so they say) to shoot anyone on road. It’s a society mired with fears and the responsibility of protection is always personal (as the police always shrug off responsibility by blaming lack of resources and encourage hiring private guards).

The guard who shot the innocent young man said that he was “irritated” by the boy and wanted to aim for his foot. This clearly says a lot about the psychological plight of private guards and their lack of training. Even when we consider past events, we have witnessed several personal security guards’ rampages due to psychological issues. This is despicable, to say the least.

Another deplorable factor is the media treatment.

Recently, during a current affairs show, former Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) leader Fawad Chaudhry dropped his garb of social revolution – which he had been wearing during these “revolution” days – and went on to defend the killing. According to him, the mental plight of the Gilani family justifies this killing, which he supported with several legal arguments.

Millions of Pakistanis, mostly young men, use motorcycles as a form of transport. Would we give these private security guards the authority to shoot any of them on a whim?

Could you even fathom the mental plight of these people now, when they’ll be crossing VIP caravans? Can they no longer wear jackets or put a hand in their pocket to take out their mobile phones while being around a caravan?

Will these socially privileged decide our way of movement?

This tragic incident symbolises malice in our society and we must find a way out before it’s too late.

Fatima Majeed

Fatima Majeed

An avid reader, freelance writer and home-maker.

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

  • Parvez

    In a country where the law enforcement agencies and judiciary are politicised and inept……then abominations of this type are bound to happen.Recommend

  • Prof. Shanthu Shantharam

    It is really sickening that ordinary citizens have to pay a price with their lives for the priviliges these so called “VIPs”. The only soltion is for citizens to take law into their hands and start blowing off these VIP security guards, and their employers.Recommend

  • Sad Paki

    The Gillani family along with their guard should be punished severly.Recommend

  • Talha

    @Author: An absorbing piece!

    you asked “Will these socially privileged decide our way of movement?” and my reply is “Yes” as its called Inequality,

    We all at certain level have/ had shown this true color which is in built our fabric. To overcome inequality one needs tolerance which nullifies the evil associated with the “not so equal” term. Not a single person i have interacted in my life in Pakistan is capable enough to be termed tolerant including me! There are so many psychological and geographical factors which are making us bane. This is what our poor Hindus and Christians brothers/ sisters are saying from a while now. We surely call ourselves Muslims but act none. The divide between the rich and the poor is universal and its not something modern but the fact of the matter is wherever is Justice in society the people tame themselves to be tolerant as the system does not allow to deviate as you will be held responsible whether you are rich or poor.

    So my last words are, accept them or work against this corrupt and intolerant society/ culture we are living in!

    Keep up the good work and God bless!Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    I know that this is a serious issue but I am amazed at the response of the security guard (which ofc has been fed to him by the Gilani family). “I was aiming for the foot and I accidental killed him” . He just states this and we are supposed to believe it, this shows that the Gilanis think of other residents of Pakistan not as humans but as slaves. This is a slap in the face of every Pakistani, and this is basically their way of saying, we killed this young boy, and do whatever you want, nothing will come of it cuz we are just too rich and too well connected. This reminds one of Russia in the early nineteen hundreds and as I hope our “royals” take heed before they meet the same end as the ones in Russia.Recommend

  • Aliya

    The guard and his masters must be brought to swift court justice. Shameful and disgraceful.Recommend

  • Moiz Omar

    R.I.P Tahir.Recommend

  • Ahmad….

    I met this guy just 5 hours before he was shot.We talked for about 15 minutes. He was my acquaintance tbh. But he was a very nice guy. Cant believe hes dead now. In this country, you dont know for sure taht you are safe or not. One day they are all but well and the next they are dead.

    -Coming from a 16 year old.Recommend

  • Moiz Omar

    That guard should be punished.Recommend

  • Safiullah Talpur

    It’s our country’s great misfortune that beside all rules and democratic freedom , we are living in a society full of violation and dumb rulers. The most important point here arises that are we safe from our leaders who consider themselves the representatives of the nation?. We might have not been answered ever from these political leaders but one thing is clear this country and it’s faculties are just the for these dead flesh eating insectsRecommend

  • Fawad

    I also have a feeling of insecurity in this countryRecommend

  • http://www.fesco.com.pk Muhammad Adnan Rana

    we should together to change the vip cultureRecommend

  • Abu Turab Varaich

    very well written …….. we need to voice against VIP culture in our society …….Recommend

  • Sane

    These VIPs are basically criminals at loose. If our judicial system and law fails to punishe them, Then, only option is justice by public on spot, then and there. And soon this is going to happen. We can’t be killed anymore by these ‘criminals’ any more.

    This case shall also be hushed up as usual. Maximum, the guard shall be behind bars for few months to come out again as a free man having license to kill obeying orders of their criminal masters.Recommend

  • Arsalan Khan

    How can he get away by saying he was “annoyed and went for the foot” as if that JUSTIFIES something. He should be trialed in court. This IS why we need a new Pakistan!Recommend

  • Sane

    A week has passed. Why not son of Yusuf Raza Gillani is arrested yet?Recommend

  • A.M.hash

    one can easily see the innocence on his face ! May Allah Bless his soul and give him Eternal peace and happiness ! we have prayers for him and his family :'(Recommend