Do you think I look like a terrorist?

The ranger standing nearby seemed afraid of me because I sported a beard and bag. Shouldn't he be protecting me?

Hammad Mateen October 28, 2010
It was a scorching Saturday afternoon and I was supposed to be at cricket practice for my office team. As I waited in the heat for a colleague to pick me up I looked around for some shade.

Incidentally, there was a tree nearby where a ranger’s van was parked. I thought I would kill two birds with one stone -get some shade and protection from mobile snatchers.

I moved under the tree and stood beside the van, chewing gum. Ten minutes later, my colleague was late and I was still waiting.

Suddenly, a ranger came up to me and said:
Maulvi sahib, aap thora agay jaa kay kharay ho jaeyn saaey mein.”


"Hey minister, Please go and stand a little farther in the shade."

I looked in the direction in which he was pointing and couldn’t see anything there except an electricity pole which wouldn’t provide any shade, as there was no obstruction to the sun’s rays at all. (I also realized that my physics isn’t as bad as I thought).

I turned around and asked the official if it was forbidden to stand where I was. He looked a bit confused and replied, “umm…no, it is allowed but…”

I considered that to be a good enough answer and told him I wasn’t going anywhere until my colleague arrives and stood my ground. The boy backed away but made me wonder why he was so worried about a civilian standing next to his van.

I looked at myself to find the answer; I put myself in his shoes and tried to visualize who he was talking to.

He was talking to a man with a long beard, standing with a bag on his shoulder, which he was constantly opening and peeking into to find his cell phone to check the time. Perhaps he thought I was a suicide bomber waiting for my jacket to blow up. I was only wearing a T-shirt that day. Maybe he thought the bomb was inside my bag or that they had invented a suicide T-shirt now. Was it chewing gum that gave them the wrong signal? Or was it the time I kneeled down to tie my laces? It could have been anything.

I’ll tell you what it actually was: a pure case of confusion regarding who is protecting who. The whole nation is victim to it. Pakistani nationals are made to feel like aliens in their own country. Security is provided by the government for God knows who, because whenever an incident is planned to take place, it actually does; be it a target killing, mobile/car snatching, robbery or a suicide bomb blast.

In a country where the law enforcement personnel need security themselves, the situation cannot be good. Something when the best solution for ensuring safety is bullet-proof vehicles for members of parliament. Running a government is no child’s play. A government is responsible for the life and prosperity of each and every individual who exists on the land it claims to govern.

The common man isn’t interested in how Obama plans to negotiate with Osama. Neither does he care about what Mr Kerry and Mr Lugar have donated in charity to our royal beggar brigade. An ordinary citizen of this country needs a calm, stable life with assurance from his or her government that it will take care of citizens’ lives, rather than the other way round. The next time you step out of your homes, make sure you carry your CNIC with you; you might have to prove your identity for the sake of your ‘own’ security.
Hammad Mateen The author is a mechanical engineer, education management professional and freelance writer working in the social sector, he tweets as @hammadmateen (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Hammad Siddiqui | 13 years ago | Reply Fear of unknown. Our agencies are not equipped to deal with the issue.. hence they treat every possible person as a terrorist!
Nasirahmad | 13 years ago | Reply @Adnan Yusuf:sorry dear it was not good. but we have to do something for ourselves.what would be that. keep silence or something else like to spent our lives according to islamic owings or we start not to keep long beard or not keep our physical appearrence like what islam teachs.
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