Running away from our saviours

We were driving through Firdous Market when the police randomly decided to interrogate us. How can we feel safe?

Ayesha Jehangir April 20, 2011
When George Fulton says he is returning to the UK for security reasons, it is understandable. When Pakistani men say they want to go to another country for the sake of someone else’s security, it’s unfortunate.

When I read a story about reports on how scores of young men were applying for jobs to serve as security officers in a Middle Eastern country my first reaction was don’t these people realise that they are needed in their own country.

Later, I came to know my maid’s son had applied for the same job. I was flabbergasted. She said:
“It is better that he guards another country instead of losing an arm or a leg in a blast here or becomes a mistaken target of a bullet that was not meant to kill him.”

I didn’t agree with it then but a few days later I had change my mind. We were on our way home, around midnight, in the office car. Near Firdous Market, in Lahore’s Gulberg, I noticed a police van was following us. Eventually it caught up with us and our car came to a halt.

Six men jumped out and surrounded our vehicle. One of the police officers literally pulled the driver out and pushed him to a corner. Another knocked at my locked door. I refused to lower my window and perhaps because they realised that a woman was sitting in the back seat, they moved away. The policemen hurriedly got back into their vehicle and drove away. Our driver returned, and told us that the policemen had mistaken the car for terrorists.

I thought to myself that how could the police have possibly taken us to be terrorists. Also the methods used by the police were, to say the least, unorthodox. And then it made me think of my maid’s son, who wouldn’t mind moving to a strange new land because he would at least have some semblance of safety.

I understood why someone would run away.
Ayesha Jehangir A sub-editor on the Lahore desk of The Express Tribune. She graduated from Kinnaird College with a masters in mass communication and is a Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Fellow of Journalism at DW, Bonn.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Maria | 12 years ago | Reply Somehow I feel you have exaggerated what really happened. Out of nowhere they ran up to your car and dragged out your driver but knowing you were a woman they didn't drag you out? Meaning they can be randomly abusive to your driver, a stranger, but they suddenly became chivalrous when they saw you were a woman, a stranger ? Come on. Pakistan is dealing with anti state criminals who are being funded from abroad and who aim to hurt innocents. I am sure that our police randomly stop and check cars and vehicles. I have seen people at check points complain to the security personnel as to why they should be subjected to scrutiny. We all think that we are above the law. It should apply to someone else but not to us. This is part of the problem with Muslim nations, Pakistan included. If we all empathize and understand the challenges faced by our underfunded security folks, we would have a greater appreciation of the work they do. They will and should continue to search all of us until every last anti state criminal is stopped. I believe in my country. Let the driver's family get killed in some corrupt Arab state. We can all see the turmoil that all Arab states are suffering from Yemen to Syria to Egypt to Tunisia. What does that have to do with the millions of Pakistanis who wish to work for their own homeland?
ayesha | 12 years ago | Reply @Ali: It's not about stopping us for security checks! It's about the way they stopped us and behaved, pulling the drivers office ID around his neck and taking him to a corner. If they are targetted, we too are not safe. It doesn't mean they start horrifying us as if something has gone wrong...and that too after taking us to a dark corner off road! This is the time when terrorists disguise themselves as policemen and what not. My whole point in writing about it is that it's unfortunate that people are running away because of such issues, in the time our country needs them most!!! Don't forget innocent people get arrested on fake issues and given a hell of a time in jails just because of such 'ending-nowhere' searches! To make the citizens feel safe, the enforcement needs to act properly and not worsen the issue. I live in Cantt, the area with most pickets and security checks, TRUST ME I don't mind my car being stopped and searched daily, waiting in long queues, because I realise it's for the sake of our safety and security.
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