Should I light a candle or curse the darkness?

Published: September 26, 2011

The police and Rangers office stood by complacently and watched me get robbed. PHOTO: AFP / FILE

This weekend had me pondering over the mugging I faced recently while returning from office in one of Karachi’s most secure areas. It was truly an unnerving experience.

It is not an uncommon occurrence to be mugged just opposite two well-guarded hotels of Karachi, in the presence of a couple of Rangers mobiles just a stone’s throw away, and the police too standing nearby –  after all it is Karachi meri jaan.

However, I was bewildered by the shocking response I got from the security personnel around me just seconds after the incident. A Rangers officer said:

“I’m on official duty and can’t move (to follow the speeding snatchers)’ while talking on the cell phone and sitting inside the mobile.”

On approaching the police van, I realized the officer on duty was engrossed in a personal discussion with a eunuch and later that officer befittingly remarked:

“Even we can’t do anything in front of a gun.”

“Haey Allah.”

In hindsight, I felt dumb to have even asked the security personnel for help. In this situation, the words of  Zulfiqar Mirza resonated with me, who had stated that it is not wrong to carry a weapon to protect your valuables and family against the criminals of Karachi.

Well, are you ready to be a street fighter to survive in Karachi, because honestly, I’m not!

Growing up, we are taught that for survival, when somebody challenges you, fight back, be brutal, and be tough. However, the mantra for survival in Karachi seems to be ‘act dumb and hand over whatever you have’ and for emergency situations, ‘keep your boree (bag) with you.’

Incidentally, I was a participant at the Chartered Accountants Student Association, an organized conference themed ‘Let’s light a candle rather than curse the darkness’, held a couple of days ago at one of the hotels opposite to the very spot I was mugged. I was captivated by the inspirational speeches by Dr Adib Rizvi and Shehzad Roy, but this incident and the lethargic attitude of the security personnel added one more reason to curse the darkness and challenged my resolve to dodge bullets and enjoy a ‘normal’ life in the city of lights.

Although the Ministry of Information of Sindh is spending heavily on advertising the slogan “Do not let the city of lights be suffocated by darkness”, it would make a greater difference if the security personnel are also empowered to protect the common man and are alleviated from their duties as private guards for the VIPs.


Faisal Abdul Karim

A future Chartered Accountant, who works as a consultant in risk advisory for the financial sector at a leading accountancy firm. Faisal is a Manchester United fan and a passionate reader in his leisure time.

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

  • Usman Dawood Barry

    Nicely said brother. Unfortunately, in our homeland, there is no value of life of common man. For us, there is no such thing as “security”. It is very disturbing to see how the ruling class gets all the protocol when they don’t even pay taxes, don’t have bank accounts here, and even have residences abroad! And at their expense, we suffer! So much for democracy!Recommend

  • Sara

    very well written.this has become a routine now.dont expect much from the securitites,coz they are not trained to fight againt mobile snatchers etc.they are just paid to sit in mobiles n look around wid closed eyes :S Recommend

  • Farooq Alam Khan

    Agreed with you brother but to be honest, what will a poor person do when the rates of flour, sugar, electricity unit and everything is rising faster than the F16 fighter?? I agree that some of the snatchers does not belong to the people whom i referred to but mostly does. Apart from that whatever these NGOs and other people are doing is not just enough to remove the darkness from our society, I strongly disagree with these Drawing Room Conferences organized in expensive hotels, talking about the common man, a poor Pakistani. This wont do any good to the society in my opinion (it will increase your fame that’s another thing).

    The poor man has always been on the receiving end be it sugar crisis, ignorance of law enforcement agencies, load shedding or any thing you name it. It will only make a difference when this does not happen, And i truly believe that what is happening in the slums of Kati Pahari, Landhi and elsewhere when reaches the Posche localities of Clifton and Defense, only then we can have some change !!!!

    Sorry I was a little off topic but i think my point is relevant to what you have discussed. If we really consider Pakistan something and we truly want to make a difference then we have to come out for the sake of it !!Recommend

  • islooboy

    dang karachi police is corrupt thanks god islamabad police is nice and honestRecommend

  • Usman Dawood Barry

    @Farooq Alam Khan:
    Totally agree with your point of discussing common man problem being talked about by NGOs and their representatives in expensive hotels. There have been many such events organized in the past and truthfully, these have produced no results. With time, our socity is getting gloomier and gloomier, with no light at what looks like a never-ending tunnel.

    Its time for people like us to come and forward to make a difference. But the thing is, are we ready to do it and face the consequences?Recommend

  • Loneliberal PK

    If these brave jawans can’t protect one citizen from getting mugged just a stone-throw away from them, then it’s axiomatic that they’re incapable of defending this country’s borders against terrorists and foreign invaders. Shame on them!Recommend

  • H S K

    @Loneliberal PK; If these very jawans chased and killed those muggers then whole media and Pakistan will be after them cursing for killing an ‘innocent un-armed respecful citizen’ at point blank range. The problem is not that they don’t want to or cant, the very media has crippled the security forces, they don’t want CJP to hang them for killing a suspected/alleged killer. Try asking the ‘media’ personnel to guard the citizens next time for change?Recommend

  • Ghair Inqalabi

    @HSK frankly, that comment is laughable. All Karachiites know that the police would never try to stop or shoot at armed robbers. What the rangers did was shoot at an unarmed person begging for mercy, and for that I wholeheartedly agree with the sentences handed down to them.

    Living in this city brings this problem to you everyday! You can fight back, but would you want to take a life just to save your cellphone? Because the robber will be willing to take your life for your cell. So the write is speaks for most white-collar populace when he says that we’re not ready to become street fighters and would rather give up our belongings.Recommend

  • Loneliberal PK

    Oh please! Helping the victim doesn’t necessarily require the rangers to kill the mugger. And it’s one thing to kill an armed mugger, and another thing to shoot one who has already surrendered, and then deliberately letting him bleed to death.

    Army needs to stop being an idle drain on our nation, and start protecting this country’s citizens.Recommend

  • Farooq Alam Khan

    @ Usman Dawood Barry !!

    Well bro I think that we have to take a stand, maybe our generation will suffer but it will give the upcoming generations a healthy and prosperous Pakistan to live in !! See at some point, it does not matter how big a loss can be, and i personally think that such time has come :)Recommend

  • Faisal Abdul Karim

    @ Farooq: Poverty is not a justification for any crime, what-so-ever; snatching at gun-point, threatening to kill or even killing innocent people, kidnapping for ransom and other heinous crimes are not validated simply due to the rising costs of living.

    @ H S K: I agree that sometimes the media does cook issues out of nothing, but there is no incident i know of that the media has cursed the security forces for taking action against the muggers if they shoot an ordinary citizen at point blank range or are caught red-handed in an incident with a weapon. The Sarfaraz shah case had different dynamics which i would not discuss again.

    I wanted to shed light on their inaction and negligence during duty which should be criticized given the worsening security situation, which is beyond street crimes on most days in Karachi.Recommend

  • Farooq Alam Khan

    @ Faisal,

    Agreed with you to an extent, but i consider that if a poor man is doing this he is at least justified to do as he is mostly deprived of even the necessities of life but why don’t we protest against the people who doesn’t pay taxes, steal electricity and things like that !! bro i think they don’t have any reason to justify their wrong doings. why are we not equal to all, my point is just that/??Recommend

  • Faisal Abdul Karim

    @ Ghair Inqalabi: I guess all sane citizens would avoid becoming street fighters and risk losing their lives – be its street crimes or target killings; this isn’t just a white-collar mentality, its common sense.Recommend

  • UrduBoloAurSuno/SpeakAndHearUrduNow

    If someone wanted to mugg me I would tell ’em “over my dead body.” my property is sacred.Recommend

  • Muhammad Bilal

    @ UrduBoloAurSuno/SpeakAndHearUrduNow: i would say PONKA u cant do that.. the muggers are the deprived ones they would kill u for bunch of Rs. or an outdated mobile so plzzzz dont try to be SPIDERMAN!! THATS AN ADVICE BROTHER/ SISTER WHOEVER U RRecommend