Police and youth at loggerheads at pickets
Yasir Ilyas & Sohail Rashid
ISLAMABAD July 20, 2010: Police and youth have always been at loggerheads in Pakistan, be it a procession, a protest or a rally. While the police justify their act as a measure intended to tackle terrorists, young people are convinced that the police actually target them in the name of security measures.
In a survey conducted by INFN, youngsters of the twin cities expressed rage over the “biased and illogical” attitude of the police. “They will inevitably stop three or four youngsters moving in a car or even two boys riding a motorbike. They don’t ever stop families. Can’t a terrorist move about in a vehicle with a few females? Why don’t they check them and why do they always check us,” asked Naeem Mirza, a teenage resident of Islamabad.
Umar Shehzad, a university student, alleged that in order to show to the public that they are performing very well, the police always stops college and university students at barricades even when they know that these innocent youngsters have nothing to do with terrorism. “The police should concentrate on actual terrorists instead of chasing youth,” he added.
“Anyone can tell that a youngster riding a bike with a bundle of books is actually a student but the police enjoy interrogating such youth and wasting their time,” agreed Azeem Riaz, a resident of Rawalpindi.
On the other hand, the police clarifies that their purpose is not to target any particular segment of society but to perform their duty according to orders. “Most of the suicide bombers in the previous wave of terrorism were teenagers and that is why we have to check youngsters. Our purpose is not to waste their time but to save their lives and I think they should cooperate with us instead of complaining,” said Dil Aaraam, a head constable posted at a barricade near Faizabad.
Tariq Ahmad, another constable, termed the behaviour of youth as being “inappropriate.” “Many youngsters do not stop when signalled and respond in an abusing style, shouting “This is Pakistan.” I think they should desist from making such statements. The meaning of Pakistan is not to disobey the laws. We deal with them in a soft way so they too should cooperate with us in the same way to save this country from terrorists,” he concluded.
“It is incorrect to say that we only stop youth at barricades. We have orders to check all vehicles which appear suspicious,” said Sartaj Ali, a constable standing at a barricade near Faisal Chowk. Asked why vehicles with females are not stopped, he said: “It is against our moral and ethical values to stop families; however, whenever in doubt, we do check them too.”
While youth must show respect for the law, the police officers serving on barricades should also see to it that a local student who goes past them almost daily should not be interrogated and stopped unnecessarily.