Just as people in glass houses should not hurl stones, people in parliament houses should not hurl threats.
Member of the National Assembly Jamshed Dasti, who based his election campaign on slogans of representing the “non-elites” and the middle-class of the country, recently demonstrated the same typical elitist behaviour associated with those walking the corridors of power.
Dasti threatened motorway police officers with “grave consequences” after the latter had the ‘audacity’ to pull him over for speeding. Never mind that it was the fourth time they had signalled for the speedy MNA to stop his Toyota Hilux.
The earlier three attempts to stop the speedy MNA’s pickup truck proved futile.
“You have no idea about the powers of MNAs. You will regret this,” Dasti threatened two patrolling officers on the Islamabad-Peshawar motorway after they issued him a Rs700 speeding ticket.
The two-term MNA, a man of humble origins who defeated the father of former foreign minister Hina Khar in a landslide electoral victory using the ‘man-of-the-people’ approach, was not driving himself, rather it was his driver who was behind the wheel at “dangerously high speed”, according to police officials.
The speed camera first detected Dasti a few kilometres short of the Swabi interchange. The police patrol stationed a kilometre ahead signalled for him to stop, but Dasti instructed his driver to speed up instead. The police got on his tail. The patrols ahead were informed. The MNA’s car was signalled to stop again a short distance up the road, and again decided to give the police a run.
However, the cops remained adamant. By this time, they had identified the car as belonging to Dasti, and knew he was an MNA, but refused to give up the chase. The police erected traffic cones on the road a few metres short of the Swabi interchange.
Here, the MNA’s driver was finally forced to slow down the pickup truck. But the MNA was not ready to give up. He had other ideas. He decided to try and escape via GT Road using the Swabi interchange exit.
The cops were quick to anticipate the MNA’s plan, though even they were confused whether the parliamentarian was trying to protect his ‘izzat’ or his Rs700.
The police finally blocked the MNA’s vehicle and left him with no option but to step out — with four armed bodyguards surrounding him.
“You know this has never happened before. No one has ever dared to stop me,” Dasti told the policemen — senior patrolling officers (SPO) Imtiaz Ahmed and Atta Muhammad. The patrolling officers remained courteous and politely informed the MNA that everyone, an MNA or a layman, was equal before the law.
His armed bodyguards also quarrelled with the patrolling officers and tried to create a scene, the motorway police officer said. “I will get you transferred to Balochistan. You do not know my powers,” the MNA went on to boast. The policemen politely replied that they were ready to serve wherever the government posted them.
The MNA flatly refused to accept the speeding ticket and the police refused to let him go without it. After some arguments, the MNA gave up and paid the fine before moving on to motorway exit and heading for Peshawar.
The police officers must be thinking what will happen next. Would they be transferred to Balochistan — considered one of the toughest postings for police officers from other provinces?
That is not yet certain, but the cops should still be prepared for a call to appear before the National Assembly privilege committee, as the MNA would undoubtedly wail about the breach of privilege and his izzat on the first available opportunity in the assembly.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 29th, 2013.