Interview of an Islamabad Police Officer

Ever since the war started in neighbouring Afghanistan, Pakistan has terribly been affected by it. From being a country where everyone lived in peace, where the church and mosque shared the common walls, the country experienced times where  people lost their lives just because they belonged to this land. The saddest part as stated in Bilal Lashari's super hit movie 'Waar' is that no one cares and mourns about deaths of Pakistanis, not even themselves. The last decade saw terrible devastation to thousands of families as the country has lost over 40,000 citizens between the time frame of 2001-2013. 

Whenever there is a tragic incident, it is the security personnel who lose their lives and get injured. It is awful that no national or international media is ever interested in talking about the difficulties that the families of the gone have to go through, how their life changes and how they have to cope up. Therefore, I decided to interview Bilal  who is serving in Islamabad police. Bilal's father sacrificed his life for Pakistan and died in a suicidal bomb blast at melody chowk, Islamabad on 6th July, 2008. Despite this tragic incident, Bilal opted to join the same department where his father lost his life. He believes in serving Pakistan just like his father did. The purpose of this interview was also to give opportunity to speak to the people who are defending our country in whatever way they can.

Believes in serving Pakistan just like his father did.

Q1. What were your reasons of joining police department?

First of all I would say that I was always impressed and inspired by my father, his character as a person and I believed that he learned so much because of serving in police department. He moulded himself according to the needs of different relations, whether be it his role as a good husband, father, brother, neighbour or as a police officer. Secondly, I have always wanted to serve public in a good and cooperative way. Thirdly after my dad passed away, I considered joining police to be able to support my family.

Q2. Considering what happened to your father, wasn't it a tough decision to join police?

Definitely it was quite tough as my grandparents initially were apprehensive considering peace and security conditions in the country at that time. Also the fact that my father sacrificed his life for the country as a police officer, they did not support me when I opted for joining the same profession as my dad. But at the end, I made up my mind to join police and they respected my decision.

Q3.So what helped you to finalize the decision of joining police?

I guess the most important part was the ability to serve public and to be able to bring a change. For instance, the general perception about police, in media and amongst common people is quite negative. The moment you talk about police, so the first thing that often comes to mind is bribery, secondly injustice, thirdly the corruption within themselves, fourthly violation of rules and law by their ownselves and bad behaviour etc. So I wanted to be someone who can make and create a difference by my good behaviour, thereby showing that good people also exist in this department. And this behaviour in turn could motivate other policemen too. So that's why I thought that whatever I could do in my capacity, I must try to change that commonly held perception about police.

'The  most important part was the ability to serve public and to be able to bring a change'.

Q4. As you mentioned about the general perception about police in society which is not good, do you behave any differently while dealing with public in hope to improve the stereotypical thinking?

I try to focus mainly on two or three things. Firstly, I try to be cooperative. Secondly, I try to be as much nice as I could, which means to exert a control over your emotions or anger because the basic purpose of this job is to protect the life, dignity and wealth of the public. So having good behaviour and cooperative nature is essential. Thirdly, I try to be empathetic, feel and understand what someone might be going through. For example, if there is an accident and someone calls to inform police, so the ability to understand what they might be facing, is highly essential. So this is the way in which I deal with public and I often get lot positive response and respect from public in turn.

Q5. What were your childhood dreams, aims and ambitions?

To join Pakistan army or to be a pilot.

Q6. And were there any specific reasons for wanting to join the above mentioned professions?

I would say that I always got motivated to fight for my country whenever I used to see clippings of war. National anthems and patriotic songs of Madam Noor Jehan especially '
Aye Putar Hatan tey Nai Wikdey' about martyrs, always motivated me and increased my passion to join army and sacrifice my life while defending for my country. I have always carried this dream since my childhood.

Always dreamt of doing something great for the country.

Q7. Tell us about your childhood; were you a serious or naughty child?

Naughty, rather extremely naughty.

Q8. To what extent , were your parents taking you to task all the time?

We tried our best that parents should not come to know about our mischievousness. But whenever they came to know, then certainly we were taken to task, but still it did not keep us away from doing all the stuff that we children used to do.

Q9. Can you share a funny, little memory from your childhood?

There are plenty of them. I remember we used to be at the rooftop with 1.5 Liters water bottles and used to make holes in the cap of the bottles. Whoever passed down the street, we would press the bottles so water would come out of the holes in the cap as like water coming out of fountain. We used to think that by doing this, we would be creating an effect like rain, so the passers may think that it rains only in this area and nowhere else. Afterwards people would come back and knock at the door or some people were kind enough to simply ignore and walk away. So we were often taken to task after our parents listened to people who came to our home to complain about what we did.

Q10. Ok can you tell us three good and three not so good things about your job which you think need improvement?

The best thing is wearing the uniform with Pakistani flag and the badge of police department, it makes you feel honoured and respectful. Because of the uniform wherever you go, you are respected. Secondly, if you are working with honesty and dedication as a police officer should do, the public always appreciates you. I have seen it many times that the public has done a lot for us and supported us. And third good thing is the ability to serve public. 

The three things that need improvement are; our behaviour, secondly our character. So we need to be mindful of our own words and actions. For instance I shouldn't be the one violating the rules myself or supporting criminals in anyway. Third is the trend towards bribery and greediness.

'The best thing is wearing the uniform with Pakistani flag and the badge of police department, it makes you feel honoured and respectful'.

Q11. How your personal life and relations seem to be affected by this profession?

It impacts your life to a large extent, I would say. There isn't any fixed timetable, we can be called any moment in 24 hours. The oath that we take as police officer says we will be ready to serve 24 hours a day. Generally the duty hours are 8 hours but if the need be, we might as well have to work 24 hours. This way your life can get affected. Furthermore when we deal with people such as criminals, it can also impact our mood and this may last till we reach home. Or sometimes even more than two three hours after reaching home, we are in same set of mind as we were in the department.

Q12. As a nation, we have suffered a lot due to the US-Afghanistan war in the region, there would be many instants when you would have seen painful and heart saddening moments, how do you remain composed?

It's simple to understand. Imagine a father who is head of the family and is controlling the affairs of the home but upon facing tough crisis, if he loses the courage and starts to cry like children, then there would be no one left to support the children. Likewise we have to keep our emotions and our tears under control, and behave brave heartedly. Because if we lose the courage, then there would be no one to take care of the public as public is depending upon us whenever God forbid, there are instants like accidents, bomb blasts, plane crashes, terrorism and target killing etc.

 'If we lose the courage, then there would be no one to take care of the public'.

Q13. Would it be right to assume that considering the exposure to different types of crimes, criminals, various events and accidents, policemen become insensitive?

I wouldn't say that we become insensitive. I can say that we learn eventually how to deal with different situations and recognize when it's ok to shed our tears because of the pain or the sadness that an event brings and when we have to hide our emotions. So the heart can never become insensitive, as at the end of the day, we are humans as well. It's just that upon repeated exposure to such situations, we master techniques as to how, when and what we need to do to handle things.

Q14. How do you handle the stress that can be associated with such a high risk job?

While wearing the uniform and during the duty hours, every policeman needs to work honestly, I believe that if any policemen loses his life while performing duty like this, he will be considered as a martyr. There can be nothing as prestigious and honourable as giving your life to your country. Therefore I never stress about it. Furthermore about high risks, we are trained to our full capacity as to how and when we need to deal with different situations, so it's never a big issue for us.

'We are trained to our full capacity as to how and when we need to deal with different situations'.

Q15. If you could change something about the system which is prevalent in the police or in the society, what would that be?

Firstly the education system needs attention in the sense that there should be uniform education system across the country. Secondly the syllabus needs to be the same for everyone. Thirdly the educators and employers should be well educated themselves. The merit needs to be followed while choosing employees in any department instead of personal preferences and contacts. Anyone who is selected through intercede or personal contacts will act corruptly, be it duty or the fulfilment of departmental responsibilities. People selected on the basis of merit will always be motivated and will do every effort to do their job best. This way just by correcting the education system, we can bring improvement to all the departments. And thirdly, the bribery in any form needs to be eliminated from every department. So I believe that if our education system gets better, there would be well educated policemen, selected on the basis of merit who will be honest, not involved in corruption and will have good thinking and great behaviour.

Q16. Considering how things are at the moment, do you feel that there is high probability of well educated people to join police force?

Educated people are applying and getting selected as well in the police and this number will continue to increase InshAllah.

'People selected on the basis of merit will always be motivated and will do every effort to do their job best '.

Q17. Share with us some unforgettable event of your career?

Bhoja plane crash (20 April 2012) and dead bodies collection. My duty timings were about to end that I got the news that at Koral, an aeroplane of Bhoja airlines has crashed. Emergency was declared and the process of collecting body parts and bringing to the hospitals started. None of the dead body was complete. There were huge number of causalities and none of the body parts were complete, so the scattered body parts were brought to hospital in collection bags. We started the process of identification of dead bodies through N.A.D.R.A. (National Database and Registration Authority) system. All of this made me realize that this life and the world is nothing. The same day there was firing in front of police station, Aabpara which left one dead and another seriously injured. Transferring the injured to the hospital and performing CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) are two events, I guess that I could never forget.

Q18. What type of personality traits should be there in a policeman in your view?

As I said earlier that he should be educated, have good behaviour and thirdly should be honest. He should be a well wisher of the public and have cooperative attitude towards the public.

Q19. Is there any message that you would like to give to public and your readers?

The public needs to support, respect and cooperate with all the professionals involved in maintaining the security of the country. People need to realize that if they are sleeping safely, if their children are going to schools safely and if their lives, wealth and dignity are all safe from robbers and thieves, then someway or the other, it is because of the honest policemen who are committed to their jobs. A respectful interaction showing good attitude  between the public and police is very important. Policemen at security posts often are working for more than 10 or 12 or 14 or 16 hours, we have done duties even more than this much duration. They are there to ensure public safety risking their own lives for  public safety. If the public acknowledges them and respects them, then the number of hours of duty don't matter. They are there for you, for the country and are doing whatever they can to recover any stolen car or to catch drug dealers. So if public acknowledges them, they would feel more motivated, committed and contended and would want to do more to serve the public.

Thank you very much for your time and answers.


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