A few days back a tragic incident took place that was reminiscent of a number of similar events where citizens lost their lives at rampant security check posts.
This latest incident took place in Peshawar in the posh area of Hayatabad, in which a student of University of engineering and Technology Peshawar lost his life. There are multiple versions of the story coming from different sources. The security officials claim that the slain person failed to stop at the security check post, while the sources on the victim’s side allege that the security men were trying to kidnap the student. The reality can only be ascertained after an impartial investigation about the whole episode.
However what is more important to discuss here is that why after more than a decade of domestic strife and the subsequent law and order situation, we are still unable to devise proper modus operandi and protocols for an important issue such as the daily routine of passing through security check posts that are so ubiquitous in the country.
There could be arguments to assert that since we are in a war like situation, the worn out, under-pressure security personnel have no other option but to shoot those who flee from security check posts. It becomes more plausible in cases when the person fleeing from the check post is a hot blooded young man.
But on the human side of the issue lies the argument that what if the person is an innocent citizen who either intentionally (suppose an emotional non-abiding youth) crossed the post or could not understand the signal of security officials. The latter has happened on a number of occasions in the past. Even if it is a crime to disobey the state sanctioned orders but at the same time one always ponders that should such small aberrations be granted death warrants?
It is a complex conundrum and a dilemma of sorts without any doubt. There is a delicate balance between the ground realities in which Pakistan finds itself and the state’s responsibility of protecting innocent human lives. But then one asks what is our government doing to devise certain mechanisms to avoid such collateral damages as much and as best as it can?
For example initial steps such as bringing uniformity in the security rules across the country and making citizens aware about them via mass media would be a good start. Every day we hear stories of friends and acquaintances telling us how they dealt with cops at the check post. Listening to any such story would expose the professional and ethical standards of these men-at-arms. The citizens are left clueless and confused in the midst of plethora of security requirements that they have to deal with in a multitude of situations.
Rather than shooting, a number of less horrible measures could be taken such as aerial warnings shots, shooting at the tires of the vehicle, and other warning signs should be utilized before going for that last option of killing an ordinary citizen on the suspicion of being a terrorist.
Other steps such as installing two check points at the same security check post can also be taken, which is indeed already there in some parts of the country. With this setting, even if a person who intentionally or unintentionally violates the first check point could be whistled from behind by the guards and until he reaches the second point of guards, he has some time to re-think about his action.
The issue at hand is a very complex one and the higher echelon of our security setup including the government must give it a serious thought. We as ordinary citizens fail to comprehend that how can someone be granted a death certificate without any chance merely for not complying with arbitrary rules of the security check posts.
As the war we are in has prolonged, so should we have more effective solutions to deal with such dilemmas. As a first step, bringing this issue in the mainstream and discussing it on various forums could help in removing the brewing suspicions and fears among the ordinary citizens of Pakistan.