Some security should trump freedom

I appreciate the presence of checkpoints and the work the police has done for us.

Bilal Ahmad November 20, 2011
For a long time after 9/11, the US was faced with the question: how much should it be willing to sacrifice its liberty to keep its citizens safe?

The US Patriot Act was signed into law rather hastily, riding on the fear that America was under threat and drastic measures were needed to counter it. There was invasion of privacy, arrests were made on suspicion alone and let’s not even discuss Guantanamo Bay. Law enforcement agencies were criticised, abused and, in some cases justifiably so, after incidents of torture and misuse of authority became common.

In Pakistan, all of this happens — in an openly notorious way and there’s little done to check it. The police are known for their unconstitutional ‘extra-curricular’ activities. Liberty is really and wholly at stake when these people serve the purpose of security. Random, routine or even designated checkpoints really seem inadequate for ‘committed’ and organised terrorists who are usually well-trained, motivated and better armed than the police.

Yet, on November 16, such a checkpoint in Karachi did stop potential suicide bombers. Numerous times the police have been successful and stopped terrorist activities. And they don’t do it by saying ‘pretty please’. Some of their ways may not agree with ‘freedom’ fighters but some sacrifices have to be made. It’s not that security should trump liberty, rather it’s the extent of that security that matters.


While I may frown over phone-tapping, I don’t mind security checkpoints. It is standard procedure and should be seen by people as something that they need to deal with as part of living in a country like Pakistan where the law and order situation is fragile. What does one have to hide anyway? A bottle of liquor in your car? Or not having a driving licence? Maybe the shame of not having vehicle registration papers makes them defensive. This isn’t terrorism – and it shouldn’t make anyone uncomfortable.

I appreciate the presence of checkpoints and the work the police does, given all the bad press it gets. I’d rather have some of the police force go through my car than patrolling and guarding the homes of high-profile politicians, or testing their skills of keeping up with the VIP SUV at the front as protocol. Let’s just say that without security, there will be no liberty.
Bilal Ahmad Designation: Sub-Editor English Paper Department: Business
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Said Chaudhry | 12 years ago | Reply In the ever lasting words of the great libertarian Ron Paul, "There is absolutely, never a reason to give up one ounce of freedom for the sake of security, it wont work!". The last ten years have proven this to be true. The security has only deteriorated all over the world, including in our streets of Pakistan.
Brandt Hardin | 12 years ago | Reply Under the guise of fighting terrorism, the Patriot Act was adopted WITHOUT public approval or vote just weeks after the events of 9/11. Such an unconstitutional set of laws should be abolished seeing as they violate human rights and due process. A mere 3 criminal charges of terrorism a year attributed to this act, which is mainly used for no-knock raids leading to drug-related arrests without proper cause for search and seizure. The laws are simply a means to spy on our own citizens and to detain and torture dissidents without trial or a right to council. You can read much more about living in this Orwellian society of fear and see my visual response to these measures on my artist’s blog at
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