Hero cops and cop-outs

Zulfikar Cheema remains the most talked about police officer in this respect.


Nusrat Javeed June 19, 2013

Over the years, Bollywood has perfected the technique of producing a super hit movie that revolves around the daring doings of an obsessive crime buster. Although a born rebel, the hero of this genre somehow joins the police force and then finds himself posted in a mafia-run territory. Of course, his seniors and usually corrupt politicians patronise the criminal gangs and bad boys of his area, but our hero prevails in the end and seldom cares to follow rules and procedures prescribed in the book of conducting police business.

Pakistan has yet to produce such a cop-connected film but in real life, it savours the privilege of having some police officers of the dedicated variety that provides stuff for Hollywood hits. Zulfikar Cheema remains the most talked about police officer in this respect.

As officer-in-charge of Gujranwala Division some years ago, he had zealously introduced and ruthlessly pursued crime-control by instant public humiliation and punishment of hardened criminals. Being a brother of a PML-N member of the national assembly, he always felt doubly secure in executing his mission. The caretaker government posted him as Director General Passport and soon the media was flooded with stories, excitedly praising him for delivering in that capacity.

Thanks to the rush of such adulatory stories, most people in Islamabad began to presume that the third Nawaz government might select Cheema to head the Islamabad Police as its Inspector General. People close to him, however, niggardly believed that posting in a “small-town” like Islamabad was far below Cheema’s status; he should either head the provincial police of Sindh or the KPK. They were really disappointed to hear the news that Cheema had literary been “sidelined” by being posted as the Inspector General Motorway Police.

Regretting “the loss of such a fine officer and a deliverer by shifting him to an insignificant position,” Cheema’s admirers conveniently disregarded an important development that happened Tuesday morning: The national assembly had to accept and hold in order a privilege motion tabled against none other than the same Zulfikar Cheema.

Khawaja Sohail, an MQM legislator, alleged that he had failed to get his passport renewed through the normal procedure within the required time. In sheer frustration, he tried to meet the DG Passport in his office. Instead of patiently hearing the grouse of a public representative, Cheema became furious and rudely asked Khawaja to get out of his office.

Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan was not willing to defend the conduct of his subordinate officer. The interior minister instead warned officers working for departments attached to his office that they must learn to behave politely, especially while dealing with elected representatives. Khawaja’s complaint was passed on to yet-to-be-formed privileges committee of the national assembly for appropriate action. Meantime, Chaudhry Nisar Ali also ordered an official inquiry into the alleged incident.

Although Cheema has seemingly failed to take off in this term of Nawaz Sharif, the fan club of characters like him from amongst the crime and corruption fighting media persons continue to lobby overtime for the appointment of another officer from the police service as Chairman NAB. In the interest of safe driving I am withholding his name, but if appointed, the same person is certain to “bring back the looted money that various cronies of Asif Ali Zardari have accumulated during the previous five years”. Nawaz Sharif is yet not willing to select the said person as his accountability czar. He continues to resist the temptation of returning to the “ruthless accountability days” of Saifur Rehman during his last term that ended with another martial law in 1999.

After being elected for the first time to the national assembly, Shafqat Mehmood of the PTI delivered his maiden speech. Without any sound and fury, he tried hard to project Dar’s budgetary proposals as pro-rich and punitive for the salaried classes. He was lethal in exposing the reality that while taxing the salaried classes, the government focused more on people earning in lower slabs, while executive positions in higher income slabs were pampered with remarkable relief.

Not once but twice, the PPP had tried to Syed Naveed Qamar to work as the finance minister for its successive governments. Sardar Farooq Khan Leghari had scuttled his flight in 1996 by dismissing the second Benazir government, but Asif Ali Zardari always preferred to go after high-profile wizards like Shaukat Tareen and Dr Hafeez Sheikh. Forgetting and forgiving the whimsical and often dismissive treatment of his talents, Naveed Qamar furnished a solid defense of the ‘fiscal management’ by the previous government. Quoting statistics provided in the budget-related documents, he spun a believable story to prove that Dar’s predecessors from the PPP government did succeed in bringing down inflation from 24 to around 7 percent, besides achieving many other things to stabilise the macro-economic scene. In spite of delivering a forceful speech, Syed Navid Qamar did sound too late in spinning a feel-good story, though.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 19th, 2013.

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