There are times when doubts assail me regarding the futility of writing about what is wrong with us as a nation and individuals. These doubts stem from a feeling that while ordinary people may empathise or disagree with my point of view, do such columns bring change or have corrective effect. It is at such times that an inner voice lends strength by saying that the pen must continue the war against what is wrong, evil and unjust, for that is what journalism is about.

As I drive around places in search of stories, I see rules being broken with an impunity that makes one think ugly thoughts - thoughts that must have prompted the well known classic tale titled “League of Gentlemen” (not the one depicted in the special effects film starring amongst others, Sean Connery and Nasiruddin Shah). My anger transforms into rage, when I see custodians of the law indulging shamelessly in acts that are illegal or stand nonchalantly, while people defile regulations.

Just two days ago, while driving to a meeting in the afternoon, I saw a motorcycle ridden by two delinquents in police uniforms near the Convention Centre. The cop sitting on the pillion had a grey beard, while the one in the driving seat was young. Both were without helmets and were driving on the wrong side of the road, head on to traffic. They crossed at least one intersection manned by the Islamabad Traffic Police, but no one checked or gave them a ticket. So much for the army of blue-shirted morons and their grey clad accomplices.

A week ago, I saw a car carrying two middle-aged ladies being waved to a halt at one of the police barriers. Now I have no problems with barriers as long as the people, who man them show common sense and courtesy. In this case, the elderly driver of the car pulled over, while I in anticipation of ‘grist for my keyboard’ did likewise. I heard the inspector in charge of the checkpoint (a public servant paid from our hard-earned money) summon the driver in a most offensive manner to the spot, where he was ‘resting’ in a makeshift seat. I watched the proceedings in seething anger because in civilised societies, it is the cop who walks up to the driver and does what he has to do firmly, but without letting go of courtesy.

I would beseech those mandated to get work out of our police to stand incognito and watch how checkpoints are managed. Let us take the checkpoint at Saudi Pak Towers on Jinnah Avenue as a case study. As multiple streams of traffic converge onto the single opening, everyone tries to be the first to snake through the concrete barriers, creating a logjam. Our men in blue, stand picking their noses as taxis and wagon drivers break every rule in the book to squeeze past cars that arrived at the spot earlier. Harried by an idiotic taxi driver on one side and a kamikaze wagon on the other, I crossed the said obstacle and stopped to recover my composure.

Lo and behold, a cop sauntered up to me, gave me a look that indicted me for God knows what offence and then asked me as to what I was up to. My response must have been rather unexpected as I shot a barrage of questions at him that all ended on the theme that why couldn’t he and his colleagues herd the erring vehicles into some order based on ‘first arrive first through’? The man looked at me as if I was from another world and then delivered the coup de grâce by simply saying: “Our duty is to man the barrier and search suspect vehicles, not to regulate traffic.”

If any senior police officer has the time and inclination to read this column, I would request him or her to take the trouble and explain to my readers that should a policeman simply standby doing nothing as a wrong is committed under his very nose, because he does not belong to the department that regulates traffic or vice versa?

The writer is a freelance columnist.