Apart from Crime Investigation Department’s SSP Chaudhry Aslam, five other senior Sindh police officers are wanted by the Taliban.
Immediately after the attack on Aslam’s house in Defence on September 19, an email in perfectly typed English was sent to members of the media by the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan’s Ihsanullah Ihsan: “We will also kill the other friends of the SSP namely Fiyaz Khan, Raja Ummar Khitab, Mazhar Mashwani, Khurram Waris and Farooq Awan.” They didn’t bother getting the spelling of their names right though.
Each of the men have dealt with the death threats differently. While some of these officers say they have trouble looking for new homes because of the threat to their lives, others fear sending their children to school. Some have even changed their offices.
While all the officers are vocal about their resolve to fight terrorists come what may, privately many of them also mention their frustrations with the government, police leadership and even their neighbours in failing to understand the emotional and physical toll the fight against terrorism has taken on them and their families.
In fact, one of them went as far as to bitterly say, “sometimes I wonder if it were best if I had joined forces with the Taliban instead. At least they fight side by side and die for their brothers in arms. Here, you and your family are on your own.”
As for unflappable Aslam, who has three school-going children all still traumatised by the attack on their home, he expressed the resolve to rebuild his house and to begin living there once again. For now, he is not sending his children to school for security reasons.
Target #1: Raja Umer
A senior police officer, Khattab rose from the rank of an inspector and now heads the Criminal Investigation Agency unit, formerly known as the Special Investigation Unit.
He moved from his old fortress-like office near Saint Joseph’s Convent High School to a new one.
“We had information that the militants had conducted a detailed reconnaissance of my old office and that’s why I’m now here,” he said.
The empty shelves of his new office are a testament to what must have been a very hurried shift – his office was usually decked with certificates and medals gathered over the years.
Khattab has previously survived a bomb attack by terrorists said to be affiliated with the Laskhar-e-Jhangvi. He was targeted while on his way to work in August 2008.
He revealed that, with the fresh threat of the TTP looming, he tried to shift his home to a more secure area. “At first, they agreed to hand the house over if I paid two years’ rent in advance, but they backed out at the last minute, saying it would be inviting trouble upon themselves.”
“I’m just concerned for the safety of my children and wife, but I don’t know where I should shift them to a more secure place,” he said.
Target #2: Fayyaz Khan
Khan, a CID SSP and another veteran officer who has risen through the ranks, lives in a civilian residential area.
“Like any other officer in this field, the prime concern is always the safety and well-being of your children and family,” he explained. However, the officer was not about to cower from a threat – he made it clear that this fight was one he chose himself and that he was willing to make sacrifices for it.
“It’s normal routine for us to change our children’s schools and houses. But what is most upsetting is how people don’t understand the toll it takes on us as well.”
Khan was extremely upset with what he saw as people ganging up on Aslam after the attack instead of sympathising with him and how they were upset with the fact that he lived among them.
Khan too came close to death in 2002 when a bomb in a parcel said to be sent by a man named Asif Ramzi exploded in his face.
Target #3: SP Mazhar Mashwani
Mashwani is the same SP officer who mans the CID building that was bombed in 2010. The officer narrowly escaped the attack, having left the building a few minutes earlier and never talks much about the incident. He can boast of numerous achievements, including hauling up hundreds of arms caches and arresting dozens of TTP men. He is still at the same CID office.
He lives in a secure compound. “Since the attack on Aslam, our neighbours look at us not as heroes, but as liabilities or threats to their own lives. But what can we do?” he asked.
“The Taliban know that the CID is not allowing them [to set up] a safe haven in Karachi and that is why they want us dead.”
Target #4: Farooq Awan
Awan is the current SSP of the Crime Branch and the man credited with being the first officer to begin the fight against terrorists in 2002 when French engineers were killed at a blast at Sheraton hotel.
Although he denies it, over the years Awan is said to have distanced himself from the fight against terrorists, limiting himself to fighting criminal gangs. Regardless, the officer is credited with breaking the backbone of groups such as the Harkatul Mujahideen al Almi and others.
“Even if you forget them, the terrorists never forget you,” he observes grimly. Seeing his name on the hit-list does not surprise him – he plans to carry his life on as usual. Awan narrowly escaped a bomb attack by extremists in back in 2005.
Target #5: Khurram Waris
Until recently, Warris was the Orangi Town SP – an area said to harbour many high-profile terrorists. Waris too, is credited with providing key information leading to militant hideouts in the city. He declined to officially comment on being mentioned on the hit-list.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 10th, 2011.
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