I had written much about the police in our ‘Land of the Pure’ hoping against hope that some senior police officer sitting in his perk saturated air-conditioned environment would take notice. When - true to my expectations - nothing happened, I decided to give up on this incorrigible organization and not waste my time in pointing out their wrongs. This resolve was however shattered by a series of incidents concerning Islamabad cops.

I think the medical criterion for recruiting the blue clad Islamabad police is one that they should have one leg instead of two and second that they should belong somewhere in between the male and female gender. I say this because a regular policeman in uniform standing with both feet firmly planted on the ground is a rare sight indeed. What one is apt to see is cops on duty lounging on one leg as if modeling for a catwalk commercial. To see a policeman with a huge belly walk, is an embarrassing experience that totally nullifies the dignity of his uniform. This becomes even more starkly apparent, when one sees a sprucely dressed Ranger or an Army soldier standing smartly alert on ‘route lining or checkpoint duty’ oozing dignity and pride.

It has now become increasingly common to see policemen driving their motorcycles with their shirts untucked, no helmet, and believe it or not, using the wrong side of the road. I saw one such specimen and stopped him on Murree Road. I pointed out the fact that he was breaking the law by not wearing a helmet and by driving on the wrong side. He looked at me without an iota of shame and said, “apnay kaam se kaam rakhain aur sarkari duty men mudakhlat na karain” (mind your own business and do not interfere in government duty). I resisted an urge to exercise my right of citizen’s arrest, but refrained because of the knowledge that nothing would come out of it. The irony of it all was that this moron of a cop had passed right under the noses of three traffic policemen standing and chatting under a shady tree at the roundabout called Kashmir Chowk.

Yesterday, I saw a car being pulled to the side by the police at a security checkpoint near the Convention Center. I watched as the old man at the driving wheel was summoned peremptorily by the young man in blue, standing in the shade of a make shift structure some distance away. Here was a public servant, who did not deem it necessary to walk up to the car and check whatever he wanted to check – instead he had, like most of his other colleagues, ordered a senior citizen to come into his ‘royal presence’. The incident reminded me of the time, when my car was stopped by a policeman in Moscow. The cop walked up to my window in pouring rain and politely told me that I had committed a traffic violation. He added that since I was a visitor and unfamiliar with the road signs, he was letting me off with a warning. I thanked the officer and drove away, resolved never to err again.

I have been unable to find a reasonable explanation as to why must cops in the Federal Capital (less the traffic police) resort to first shaking hands with the person being checked. This action must be well known to their seniors, who will also be aware that the demonstration of ‘bon homie’ immediately dilutes the effect of firm yet courteous enforcement of law.

Lack of space forbids me to quote more examples from what I see on the roads every day of the week, but in the final analysis, the entire blame for the lack of discipline must fall on the officers, who command these men. Lack of administrative and logistic facilities, which are so meticulously implemented in the Civil Armed Forces and the Army are absent in our police department as is leadership. I am yearning for the day, when police officers from an ASP to the IG spend a major part of their working day on the roads seeing what their minions are up to and taking corrective action on the spot.