Security pickets in capital
Policemen facing danger of being caught off-guard
Azhar Mehmood & Aftab Alam
ISLAMABAD, July 10, 2010: “We have been provided no arms, at all; not even official pistols. And we cannot have our personal ones without going through an unending and tiring procedure of getting an NOC,” was the response of the unarmed policemen, requesting not to be named, performing duties at a security picket in Islamabad, when this news agency expressed concerns regarding their own security.
“Official guns and pistols are short in supply as well as not trustworthy -- these are as if ‘arms or no arms’ for us!” said one of them.
Security checkposts have been established throughout the country, including Islamabad and Rawalpindi, since terrorism started to unleash itself in big cities.
The police officers deployed at these pickets are facing numerous problems and hurdles in performing their duties as they do not have enough resources to challenge the suspicious vehicles -- neither are they provided with ammunition sufficient to silent the guns of the terrorists nor is the weaponry technologically advanced enough to defend them ‘in the line of fire’.
There is no jamming system installed at any picket in the capital.
“We do not even have fans, what to talk of jammers. I have to sit in this boiling bunker wearing a bulletproof jacket, weighing 8 kilograms, for eight hours,” said one of them.
“As per rules of service, every policeman is to be provided with a new uniform, shoes and raincoat, but I have received them just once during six years of my service,” an ASI told this news agency on condition of anonymity. “There is no laundry facility for us and we have to wash our uniforms every day due to excessive sweating in summer,” he added.
“We keep standing watchful and vigilant throughout the day wearing the same uniform -- be it the scorching heat of the summer or the chilling cold of winter. We neither have any shelter to save us from the extreme weather conditions, nor are we having access to cold water in the burning heat,” said an officer at a checkpost near Faizabad.
“To think of lavatory facility is a mad man’s dream and a luxury we cannot even think of having. We have to ‘answer the call of nature’ going deep inside the jungle or an area at a distance from these pickets”, said an ASI on duty.
Such horrific is the state of affairs of the policemen.
With dry lips and parched tongues, these ‘gladiators’ of the modern era are fighting valiantly against an unseen enemy.
“Knowing that we might be no more any moment, we perform our duty for 12 hours, 7pm-7am, eyeing every vehicle rushing towards us as our death sentence. One of our colleagues was recently killed because of unprovoked firing of motorcyclists when he signalled them to stop at a picket near Taramri, in the jurisdiction of Shehzad Town Police Station,” said a junior officer gloomily at a picket near Rawal Dam Chowk.
But their gallantry is time-tested now. Although, they are a part of the least resourceful force in the world, yet they know the art of fight in which each drop of blood falling in the lap of the motherland is valued more than a thousand blows of sword inflicted upon the enemy. They fight for honour and not for a name; for their generations to come and not for themselves. They prefer dying unnoticed than boasting the fact that they are sacrificing their lives at the altar of the war against terrorism.
“Although we suffer for the safety of the public; we remain awake so that our countrymen can sleep peacefully, we are disliked and sometimes insulted by the people who are asked to stop their vehicles for routine checking. People address us as if we are an unwanted commodity forgetting that had this deterrence not been in place, it would have provided swift and effortless entrance to the miscreants into the city,” said an officer appointed at a picket near Bhara Kahu, complaining about the misbehaviour met by them at the hands of VIPs as well as local people.