Opportunity out of Adversity

(Shahnawaz Sarmad, Lahore)

Punjab Police blocked the protestors from entering into Islamabad without using a bullet and by consistently persisting for many hours

In beginning of this month, Pakistanis experienced a situation of panic, clash and some excitement, during PTI lead protests against Panama issue that lastly defused after Chairman PTI Imran Khan cancelled the Islamabad “Lock Down”. This is another debate that who had been right or wrong and who won or lost throughout this game of political demonstration and show of state’s power, but as Shakespeare said, all is well that ends well; in the same way some very positive results out of this scenario, brought opportunity out of adversity.

The conflict was leading the country towards a situation of not less than civil war when a wise decision by Imran Khan, who is otherwise considered to be a hot-blooded leader rather than sagacious one, avoided anymore outright confrontation that could have led to a massive loss to country. In response to which, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, while representing government, also showed some mellowness after tongue lashing between two parties for many days. He did not only admire Imran Khan’s decision but also gave a reconciliation gesture by apologizing PTI workers and citizens for troubles they had faced during last few days. The best thing that came out is, both sides had to respect the sanctity of the institution.

Other than this, Police has also appeared to be in a better professional state. Although role of Police has always been controversial in such circumstances, being state’s front line force interiorly, maintaining law and order inside the country is their core responsibility, and Punjab Police have, may be for the first time, managed it very well. But at times, being a Pakistani, I felt wretched because ironically our own force had been fighting against our own people. State’s resources, energy and personnel were being used against its own citizens. However, if we see the other side of the picture, as a professional force, they had to do it to maintain the writ of state as per orders. They blocked the protestors from entering into Islamabad without using a bullet and by consistently persisting for many hours; the caravan was blocked for more than 15 hours by Attock Police only. Previously we have seen Police running away from such situations even when they had guns in hands. It seems like Command of IGP and Punjab Police's training on modern techniques, especially anti-riot exercises, have helped them to handle the protest confidently.

There are many more examples and success stories of Police that we have witnessed in recent past. About a month ago, Youm-e-Ashur was observed with religious reverence where about 200,000 police officials ensured the security of more than 28000 Majalis and around 7418 processions that took place on 9th and 10th Muharram only, throughout the Punjab. Combing, search and sweep operations were conducted before and during Muharram and are still in progress with full force. Peace Committees’ members were taken as stakeholders to create harmony among all faiths on direction of IGP Punjab Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera. Resultantly, the Security strategy and cooperation of administrations of Majalis and processions with police had helped in maintaining the spirit of brotherhood and religious harmony. This is why, despite serious threats of terrorists’ attacks and communal violence by secretariat militant outfits, the situation in the province remained calm and safe. We need the same spirit of harmony and brotherhood on other occasions as well, instead of leading the situation to the serious conflicts between provinces and ethnic groups.

Before that, Punjab had seen an Independence Day Celebrations without any stunts on roads by “one-wheelers”, peaceful Eidain and joyful International Cricket in Pakistan after many years due to strict policy and action of Police. Whether it had been Taraweeh prayers in Ramzan or major protests by political parties, Police always played a role of vanguard to protect citizens. Police officers from the rank of constables to that of Regional and District Police Officers observed a routine of waking up before Sehri and provided security to Masajid from Fajar prayer till Taraweeh. Out of 24 hours, Police had been on special duty to protect Namazis for about 20 hours, in this “Islamic Republic” of Pakistan. I have witnessed Police Jawans walking in front of Muharam processions as a layer so that if any untoward incident happens, they can sacrifice their lives to save others. Officers of RPO and DPO rank were present by themselves on spots to supervise the security measures. When citizens worship inside their worship places, Police do the same outside by protecting them.
Dedication of law enforcement agencies, especially Police as frontline force, is of core significance which has actually made situation of peace possible and have maintained writ of state successfully in tense situations. Finally the state of affairs has come to normal as the case of Panama Leaks is in Supreme Court and it is expected that something good for Pakistan will definitely come out.

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