Star-struck cops

Published September 24, 2022

IN this age of selfies and social media, it is easy to get carried away in the presence of famous people, even if you are a government servant assigned to protect those well-known personalities. This was apparently the case with officers of the Sindh Police’s Special Branch and Special Security Unit, which were supposed to provide security to UN Secretary General António Guterres during his recent visit to Karachi as part of his solidarity mission to the flood-affected population. Apparently, the SSU personnel thought it would be a good opportunity to grab a few snaps with the visiting dignitary and gain some publicity. What resulted was an embarrassing breach of protocol; the star-struck cops unnecessarily entered the state lounge; they gate-crashed while the UN head was giving an interview to the BBC, even though his personal guards tried to stop them, and even barged into the dignitary’s suite to present him a ‘gift’, and grab some more pictures.

Awkward and unedifying as the police officials’ behaviour is, there appear to be precedents quite high up the pecking order. For example, while meeting then Alaska governor Sarah Palin during his US visit in 2008, Asif Zardari exhibited some very un-presidential, cringe-worthy public behaviour while chatting up the hawkish Republican politician. Moreover, if a biography of former US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice is to be believed, then prime minister Shaukat Aziz also illustrated some undiplomatic traits when he tried to impress the American visitor during a 2005 visit to Islamabad. Much to the embarrassment of many, Ms Rice was reportedly unimpressed with Mr Aziz’s charms. The point is that whether it is presidents and prime ministers, or those manning other important public service roles, SOPs and protocols should not be lost sight of, especially when interacting with foreign guests. The way the SSU personnel behaved with the UN chief was unbecoming, and the Sindh government, as well as other administrative bodies, must ensure such shenanigans are not repeated.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2022

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