Chaudhry Aslam: A legend in his lifetime

Published: January 11, 2014
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Late SP-CID, Chaudhry Aslam. PHOTO: PPI

Late SP-CID, Chaudhry Aslam. PHOTO: PPI

KARACHI: 

What can you say about a man who became a legend in his own lifetime? A man who became a symbol of resistance and a beacon of light against the forces of darkness? The only thing that I can say is that Aslam was my friend.

I got to know Aslam before I joined the service. The first time I met him, he came to my house with a handlebar moustache and a ferocious look in his eyes, and plonked a pistol on the table. He had arrested Saulat Mirza, my father’s killer. I wanted to confirm whether he had arrested the right man or not, and he offered to allow me to interrogate him myself. In fact, he became the reason I joined the force, because he represented the ability of the police to do good, to help the helpless.

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When I got my first posting as ASP Garden, Aslam was in one of his cyclical periods of being out of favour with the government of the day. He would come over and sit in my office in the evening, having no other office to go to, and would regale me with tales of how things actually worked in the department. For a wet behind the ears ASP, this was manna from heaven. I often made him repeat the story of how he first made his name in Gulbahar, which was at the time the worst thana in the city because of the ethnic violence in the area.

Around this time, Aslam took a liking to two young officers, who were the sons of slain fathers, myself and Irfan Bahadur, and decided to mentor us. We both were perhaps at the time more emotional and acted with our hearts. Aslam taught us how to act with our heads.

We started working together when Aslam was brought back to capture Shoaib Khan. He said he was only willing to work with me because at the time he said he didn’t trust anyone else. And so, for a month and a half, Aslam, Irfan and I spent many a chilly winter night conducting desperate raids on the houses of Memon gamblers in Kharadar, chasing down every single lead on Shoaib.

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Aslam, as usual, always got his man and, within a couple of months, arrested Shoaib Khan. On the back of that success, we went to Lyari toget her in 2005. Aslam was already a legend in Lyari, having served as SHO Kalakot in 1996.

Our first day in Lyari, I called the shots and said I wanted to go to Afshani Gali, the home of Rehman Dacait. One of the SHOs suggested that we should call for 15 APCs before going as the area was so dangerous. Aslam took my hand and said “Sahib, let’s go while this guy looks for 15 APCs”. We ended up patrolling Afshani Gali on foot, without a shot being fired. Dacait had evacuated from the area the minute he heard that “Chaudhry” had returned to Lyari.

A few years later, Aslam and I were working together again, this time in CID. At one point, we had the option of choosing to stay either in our CID Civil Lines building, or moving to the anti-extremism cell office in Garden. I was in favour of the Garden office, as it had a great lawn. But Aslam, being a superstitious man, said “but sahib, Civil Lines is a lucky office. I’ve caught many good cases in this building”. I told him, “All offices are lucky for you”, and lured him to the Garden office with the promise that the lawn was an excellent walking track, to indulge his habit of constantly pacing up and down the office driveway while chain smoking. Two months after we shifted office, our old offices were targeted in a massive bombing, in November 2010. Aslam and I told our DSPs, who had all opposed the move, to sacrifice a Kaala bakra.

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So many stories to tell. And I cannot believe that we won’t be walking up and down his driveway, swapping tall tales. I also don’t know what to tell his four children, Manahil, Ikrash , Azan,and Jazil.

The only thing that I can say is that Aslam was my friend, and that he changed my life and did me the greatest service by catching my father’s killer. And the only thing I can promise is that I will try my best to do for them what their father did for me.

Published in The Express Tribune, January 11th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (9)

  • Reincarnated
    Jan 11, 2014 - 10:13AM

    We need a lot more Ch Aslams. Long live Ch Aslam, you are the true son of the motherland!

    Recommend

  • ironMan!
    Jan 11, 2014 - 10:46AM

    “And the only thing I can promise is that I will try my best to do for them what their father did for me.”

    This will be a great service to his kids, if done with true conviction. Goodluck!

    Recommend

  • Jan 11, 2014 - 1:37PM

    Omar,
    Ch. Aslam is not dead… Officers like him and yourself are the true symbol of justice to help those who are helpless! He will live on in all Bahadur tales and as bench mark for successful and honest cops, and his wife and children are fortunate to have spent the extra time they had with him to know what he was worth to them and Pakistan as a Country in suffering and directionless…
    May the force be with you.Recommend

  • Amima Sayeed
    Jan 11, 2014 - 2:36PM

    Is this true that previous Chief Justice Chaudry Iftikhar stripped Chaudry’ Aslam’s (along with couple of other officers) security and higher status they had while working with the anti-terrorism cell? The pretext being not according to service order??

    Your article restores some confidence that it wont be a clean sweep for Taliban now that Chaudry Aslam’s resolve is not their to shield Karachi.

    Recommend

  • CH ASLAM
    Jan 11, 2014 - 5:51PM

    Ch Aslam made us all Proud – We felt mutual pain & contempt for his murderers may his blood unite us against our enemiesRecommend

  • shahid
    Jan 11, 2014 - 6:10PM

    Omer,
    Please return to the police force ASAP, we all need your conviction and dedication. I am also looking forward to reading your fiction book “the prisoner” which I hear is based on your time in the police force.

    A sincere well wisher

    Recommend

  • optimist
    Jan 11, 2014 - 7:38PM

    It’s very moving to read this. And it is encouraging to see that people like you are upholding the values Chaudhry Aslam stood and fell for. May his soul rest in peace and may you succeed in getting justice for everyone. Amen.

    Recommend

  • Mahine Rizvi Ahmad
    Jan 11, 2014 - 9:30PM

    A heartfelt tribute from one police officer to another! Whenl will a time come when we honour our heroes while they are alive and doing an amazing job! It seems all our tributes come too late when our heroes have fallen! Chaudhry Aslam and Omar Shahid are sadly a rare breed of Pakistani policemen – true patriots policing the mad streets of one of the most dangerous cities in the world. We all salute you! We salute your bravery and your patriotism! God bless you.

    Recommend

  • Ashar Azad Ahmed
    Feb 10, 2014 - 2:13PM

    Omar,

    As an ex-classmate and admirer, I am sure you will not only catch your mentor’s and friend’s killers but will go much further in restoring peace in Karachi. I heard from some sources that you had left the police force, which I sincerely hope is not true. It is people like you who still make us believe that all is not lost and rest assured our prayers, well wishes and support (moral and physical) is all with you whenever needed. God speed brother and keep up the great work.

    Recommend

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