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DAWN - Features; October 17, 2007

October 17, 2007


DATELINE ISLAMABAD: Why not a police force we can be proud of?

By Aileen Qaiser

THE capital police must be heaving a big sigh of relief that Ramazan is finally over.

Ramazan is normally a heavy-duty month for the police, what with the need to counter the price hike, the increase in beggars and the rise in thefts before and during Eid, on top of the normal crime-busting duties targeted at criminals wanted in connection with robberies, car thefts, kidnappings and murders.

But this Ramazan has been an extraordinarily heavy-duty one for the police because of the presidential election.

In connection with the latter, the federal police was up to their neck in security arrangements on the occasions of submission of nomination papers by the presidential candidates at the Election Commission on September 27, judgment by the Supreme Court on petitions challenging the dual offices of President General Musharraf on September 28, scrutiny of nomination papers of the presidential candidates on September 29, and election of the president on October 6.

To prevent agitation and any untoward incident on these occasions, the police was busy with launching a security sweep of hotels in the twin cities, rounding up hundreds of political workers and activists under the Maintenance of Public Order, either sending them into jail or putting them under house arrest, establishing pickets and sealing off major entry points into Islamabad before and on September 27 and 29, and also blocking all roads leading to the Election Commission on the respective two days.

In the performance of their duty in this respect, the police were chastised by the Supreme Court which took suo motu notice of the complete blockade of means of communication between the twin cities on September 27 and the inconvenience caused thereof to members of the public many of whom could not attend to their jobs.

No matter how stressed out the federal police might have been this Ramazan, still this was no excuse for their using excessive force on the public on September 29 when lawyers and journalists who had gathered in front of the Supreme Court and the Election Commission respectively were chased and beaten up by police and other plain-clothed personnel.

No doubt the federal police, as with every police force elsewhere, are charged with ensuring public safety — of both the leaders/officials and the general population — and towards this end they are empowered to use force when justified. But at the same time the police are obliged under the law to exercise the utmost restraint when using force.

However judging by what happened on September 29 in which journalists, lawyers and at least one senior civilian official were injured in what seemed to be a free for all melee on the Constitution Avenue in which Islamabad’s top police officials were reportedly actively involved, it seemed pretty obvious that neither did the police exercise restraint when using force on that day nor were they justified in using force in the first place.

The police behaviour on September 29, of which the Supreme Court had taken suo motu notice, is all the more reprehensible when considering the fact that the incident was the third so far this year in the federal capital in which the police have crossed their limits when dealing with members of the media.

On March 16, amidst protests in the twin cities against the removal of the Chief Justice of Pakistan, police forcibly entered and ransacked offices of The News and Geo in Islamabad, causing damage to properties by their behaviour which many have described as no less than vandalism.

On January 26, the Islamabad police swung batons at media personnel covering the scene of a suicide bomb blast outside a local five-star hotel, injuring over 10 media personnel in the process besides breaking their expensive equipment.

Compare this harsh treatment of, if not illegal use of force on, journalists by the police with the lenient treatment of, for example, the protesting followers of MNA Maulana Azam Tariq who was assassinated in Islamabad in October 2003.

On the day of his funeral procession, the federal police as well as paramilitary troops were out in full force to protect the parliamentarians and prevent any untoward incident in the vicinity of Parliament House, since funeral prayers for the Maulana were conducted in front of Parliament House.

But the same large contingent of police and paramilitary troops did practically nothing to protect the lives and property of the general public when the followers marched away from Parliament House and rampaged China Chowk, Melody and Aabpara markets and even attacked the shrine of the father of Hazrat Bari Imam, on the way smashing up traffic signals, damaging cars, buildings, a petrol station, etc., and looting shops.

Why this discrimination in the treatment meted out by the federal police to different groups of people/protesters? Why this discrimination in the protection given by the police to leaders/parliamentarians/officials and the general public?

Ensuring the security and protection of leaders, parliamentarians and officials, and certain communities, does not mean that the police have the right to ride rough shod over the security and rights of the other members of the public.

On the three occasions this year of police encounter with media personnel, the former have clearly fallen short on their duty of maintaining public order and safety. More surprising is the fact that this has been allowed to happen three times without any apparent check on the police’s behaviour.

Does this point to tolerance at the highest level of the use of excessive force by the federal police? Reports in an English daily last week about alleged pressure being exerted by the government to exonerate the federal police officials suspended for the September 29 incident are certainly not doing anything to build trust and confidence of the community which the federal police supposedly serves.

A truly professional police force are one that are able to react appropriately and justifiably according to the rule of law, especially when confronted with a use of force situation. Don’t the citizens of the emerging new Islamabad deserve such a police force which they can be proud of?

The prime minister once said that it is the behaviour of traffic which determines the image of a country. Doesn’t the behaviour of the police force also determine the image of a country?

Ibrahim Jalees: the mercurial satirist

By Rauf Parekh

Sometimes personality traits run in families and siblings display identical talents and aptitudes — perhaps a genetic influence. How else can one explain three humorists in a family? Like the four cricketing brothers of Pakistan — Hanif Mohammed, Mushtaq Mohammed, Vazeer Mohammed and Sadiq Mohammed — three journalist and humorist brothers —Mehboob Hussain Jigar, Mujtaba Hussain and Ibrahim Hussain Jalees — were born in the same family.

Mehboob Hussain and Mujtaba Hussain stayed in India and worked as journalists in addition to writing humour. Today, Mujtaba Hussain is considered amongst the foremost Urdu humorists in India. Ibrahim Hussain, better known as Ibrahim Jalees, came to Pakistan and earned fame as a journalist, satirist and story writer.

Though Jalees’ family belonged to Usmanabad, Deccan, according to Malik Ram, Jalees was born on August 22, 1924, at Bangalore, where his maternal grandparents lived. His father, Ahmed Hussain, was a self-made man and knew the importance of education. He sent Jalees to Aligarh University from where Jalees did his BA in 1940.

Jalees got his first job at the civil supply department but kept it for hardly a year and resigned after some dispute at the office. With a flair for literature, he had begun broadcasting and writing for local newspapers and magazines during his student days. In 1941, he caused quite a sensation when his short story ‘Rishta’ got published in Saqi, a prestigious literary magazine published from Delhi. Jalees shot to eminence with the publication of Zard Chehre, a collection of short stories, in 1944. Other books such as Chalees Karor Bhikari and Tikona Des, collections of short-stories and the novel Chor Bazar established Jalees as a satirist and short story writer.

For a while, Jalees tried his fortunes at India’s movie capital Bombay (now Mumbai) where he stayed with his poet friend Sahir Ludhyanvi. However, his caprice and restlessness brought him back to Hyderabad (Deccan) after a year.

The winds of change were blowing in India: the Progressive Writers’ Movement had transformed the literary scenario and influenced a great many authors and journalists. Jalees was also attracted to it. In fact, most of his writings had a sarcastic ring that betrayed a Marxist approach. When the Progressive Writers’ Association convened at Hyderabad (Deccan) in 1946 for its All India Meeting, Jalees took active part.

However, 1948 brought about drastic changes in India’s political scene and Jalees shifted his sympathies. India attacked the princely state of Deccan and annexed it with the Indian Union by military aggression. Jalees supported Qasim Rizivi’s Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen and, as he stated himself, was dismayed at the atrocities committed against Muslims. He wrote Tirange Ki Chhaaon Mein, a cynical account of the political upheaval in Deccan, and protested against anti-Muslim riots in India. In this book, Jalees emerged as a nationalist Muslim.

He migrated to Pakistan soon after the fall of Deccan in 1948. But so mercurial was his temperament that as soon as he joined his progressive friends in Lahore, he reversed his nationalistic and Islamist approach. In the book Do Mulk Aik Kahani, written immediately after the migration, he repented for and disowned Tirange Ki Chhaaon Mein.

In Lahore Jalees joined Saathi, a children’s magazine. A little later he became a sub-editor at Imroz where Ahmed Nadeem Qasmi and Ibn-e-Insha were his colleagues.

The government imposed the Public Safety Act in those days and Jalees wrote about it in a satirical vein. When his piece ‘Public Safety Razor’ appeared, it infuriated the high-ups and Jalees was put behind bars for a few months. His book Jail Ke Din Jail Ki Raten is an interesting and satirical account of that time.

Jalees went to Karachi in 1955 and in 1957, when Majeed Lahori died, Jalees joined Jang where he wrote the humour column ‘Waghaira Waghaira’. As he had a natural talent for humour, his column became very popular. Later, he joined Anjaam as editor but resigned after a while because of a disagreement with the owners. He then launched his own weekly, Awami Adalat, but it fell victim to the lack of funds.

In 1976, Ibrahim Jalees became the editor of Musawat, the daily newspaper launched from Karachi by the Pakistan People’s Party. In 1977, the PPP government was toppled by the martial law and the publication of Musawat was suspended. Jalees fell ill and was hospitalised but passed away the very next day, on October 26, 1977.

Other books written by him include Ulti Qabr, Neki Kar Thane Ja, Ooper Shervani Ander Pareshani, Hanse Aur Phanse, Shugufta Shugufta and Kala Chor.

Ibrahim Jalees was a satirist greatly pained by the plight of the common man, a writer whose sobs were disguised as mood-lighteners.

© DAWN Group of Newspapers, 2007