Is it a crime in Pakistan for a boy to drop a girl home?

The police stopped us on Khayaban-e-Shahbaz and threatened to charge me and my friend under section 294.

Sarah Munir March 06, 2014
A few days ago, as a friend was dropping me back home after dinner; we were pulled aside by the cops on main Khayaban-e-Shahbaz road in Defence, Karachi.

No dark corner or shady alley but while driving smack in the middle of a bustling road. While we pulled over the car, the men in uniform, (who in all likelihood belonged to the Darakshan police station since the area falls under that jurisdiction) asked my friend to get out of the car. As expected, he was asked to produce the required ‘kaaghzaat’ and give details of our whereabouts. Upon inspection and failing to find any reason to grill him further on the paperwork, he decided to focus his attention on the nature of our relationship.
“Yeh kaun hain aap ki?” one of them questioned in an authoritative voice.

(How are you related to this girl?)

“Dost hain ji meri”

(She is a friend)

Aap ko pata hay na Defence aur Clifton mein yeh ijaazat nahe hay.” he thundered.

(You do know that this is not allowed in Defence or Clifton.)

My friend who was completely baffled by this point retorted,
Kis cheez ki ijaazat nahe hay?”

(What exactly is not allowed?)

The second cop who had been silently observing until now, probably figured that they would have fared better if they had picked out their ‘targets’ a little younger and a tad more naïve. Both of us were ready to go to the police station with them until they could prove what exactly it was that we were doing wrong. And that was clearly not part of their plan.
Agar police se ziyada zabaan chalai na toh section 294 laga dain gay,” he added as one last attempt to warm his pockets for the night.

(If you argue with the police unnecessarily we will charge you under section 294)

Seeing our refusal to budge or pay, they eventually decided we were too much effort and let us go.

As soon as my senses settled down and had time to process what just happened, I hastily began to Google section 294. For those of you who do not know, section 294 of the Pakistan Penal Code (PPC) entails the following:
“294. Obscene acts and songs:

Whoever, to the annoyance of others,

(a) does any obscene act in any public place, or

(b) sings, recites or utters any obscene songs, ballad or words, in or near any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.”

I paused for a minute to mentally kick myself for laughing at a rumour about music being banned in public vehicles a couple of weeks ago. Suddenly, nothing seemed absurd enough to fall outside the realm of reality. I did not even attempt to delve into the mechanics of what constitutes as ‘obscene’ and who decides that, since the whole incident had bypassed reason and logic several minutes ago.

While I was still fuming with anger and going over the predictable rhetorical adult arguments in my head:
“What if he was my brother? We did not break any traffic laws, so why did they stop the car in the first place? What right did they have to stop and question us like that without any proof?”

I realised that the actual question here was:
“So what if he was NOT my brother? What right does any law enforcement member have to question your relation or motives if you are not violating any law or code of decency? Were a boy, a girl and a car enough evidence to turn someone into a suspect? How could morality, propriety and piety be judged based on a piece of paper?”

But, apparently it is not even a piece of paper that these guardians of law are looking for. As I narrated this incident to a friend, she told me that the same thing happened to her a few weeks ago as she was going back home with her husband. Only this time, the cops outrightly demanded to see the ‘bottle’.
“I showed them my wedding ring instead,” she said with a resigned smile.

Going back to the night, my friend and I drove the rest of the way in silence. As I was getting off the car, he said,
“You know when I got mugged last week, a police mobile was parked just at the end of that street. I didn’t think much of it then but now…”

He didn’t need to finish off his thought. The irony of the situation was not lost on either of us.

Have a story of your own? Share your experience with us at [email protected]
WRITTEN BY:
Sarah Munir A graduate from the Columbia Journalism School and is currently heading the Magazine Desk at The Express Tribune. She tweets @SarahMunir1 (https://twitter.com/SarahMunir1)
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.

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COMMENTS (106)

annie | 3 years ago | Reply | Recommend Same case, Me and my fiance were taking tea at a tea shop in lake view, Islamabad police stopped us and ask questions like we are doing something wrong, I don't know who they are to ask question to any one without any proof. I said you can talk to my parents they know everything, that we are engaged. they said mam please don't angry we want to give you favor like they ask for 200 rs bribery, what the hell? I was shocked to listen, Do they are saving people lives ? they are born for bribery. I hate these type of people. who take advantage of uniforms they are wearing, Is there any way to make complaints against them or any other way to grab them or do some recording of what they are doing with public. so that they get what they are doing.They just sale them in 200 ;D low standard dirty people.
Anonymous | 4 years ago | Reply | Recommend I don't know what's wrong in it if a boy drops a girl at her place, if her parents don't have any problem. I am a girl and an undergrad student if any of my male friend drops me at home or we friends including male friends hang out somewhere, why should the cops bother (if we are not doing any unethical thing). Where were those policemen when some couples put blinders on and park their cars in the parking lots and at that time when some boys are harassing women in public?? Why always those persons who are not doing anything wrong are accused who are not doing anything wrong. We are living in the country where we are scared, instead of feeling protective, if we saw any policemen at the end of the street.
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