The year 2020 is reaching its end, and with the arrival of the new year, all which happened in 2020, shall become part of the quickly fading memory. The year 2020 proved to be a fateful year of my life in a sense that I got posted to Gilgit-Baltistan. Having been born and grown in the hot plains of Punjab it’s a new experience to live amongst snow-clad barren mountains. However, it’s part of life, and especially when you stand for values, principles, and the public interest, then inevitably exploitative systems and characterless individuals tend to push you to the periphery to get rid of opposition.
The year 2020 was especially painful in a way that my close friend and colleague SSP Abrar Hussain committed suicide. SSP Abrar Hussain (May Allah bless your soul) was not only my batch-mate but my roommate also at the National Police Academy (NPA). We belonged to the same soil (District Jhang-now Chiniot) — irrigated by the life-giving waters of Chenab river. The day we reported to NPA, he told me “Shakir-we shall share a room”, and I said “ok”. We stayed together for more than a year, and not a single time we traded uncomfortable words on any issue. However, it was not me, but the big heart of Abrar, which made it possible for two poles apart to live together in one place.
Admittedly, I was not an easy roommate, especially for Abrar. He was a semi-chain smoker, while due to my sensitivity to cigarette exhalations, I never allowed him to smoke in the room. I used to sleep early in those days, and he was always a late-night bird, hence room lights used to be off at my schedule. I used to take showers in the first 40 minutes, and he used to wait to finish his shower for the remaining 15 minutes before going to the breakfast table. Now, after his demise, I realize that perhaps at that time it was the glittering galaxy of hopes housed in his mind, which made him bear everything with such a big heart.
Abrar was a deep thinker and a mature philosopher. I was always amazed at his capacity to think and grasp so difficult philosophical concepts rooted in the multidisciplinary panorama of physics, chemistry, biology, cosmology, sociology, and psychology. On many occasions, we discussed ideas to contribute something big for the betterment of Jhang and Pakistan. I discussed with him the idea of establishing a boarding school in Jhang on the pattern of Eton and Harrow for producing ‘Philosopher Kings of the Republic of Plato’ so that the fate of Pakistan may be changed. He offered me land in his hometown for the envisaged school. Who knew that this selfless soul shall get devoured soon by a mafia of corrupt cannibals.
Actually, Abrar is not the first police officer, who rose from the middle class, entered police service as an ASP, and got devoured by the exploitative oligarchy. Before this, ASP Khalil, who was the 2nd position holder in all over Pakistan in CSS examination, and was the topper of professional police training, was also devoured by a cannibal departmental head. Time and again ASP Khalil was instructed by the top boss to undertake various ‘special tasks’, which, as a norm, should never be assigned to an ASP. Unfortunately, when, while performing a special task a casualty happened, then the same boss in a bid to save his own skin, ordered FIR against Khalil immediately and declared him an absconder. While running from one district to another the Pakistan topper met an accident and died on the spot. The irony is that the widowed wife and the little daughter got no support from any corner.
This is a story of just two ASPs; however, there are many other police officers to whom this oligarchy of corrupt cannibals has consumed, or is busy devouring. Actually, given the semi-tribal nature of Pakistani society, the police service has turned into a neo-tribal oligarchy. It’s an undeniable fact that most of the officers coming through the CSS exam come with good intentions. However, as it is said “road to hell is paved with good intentions” a similar kind of phenomenon happens here too. Faced with external social pressures and internal cognitive greed to “shine in circles”, these officers start finding godfathers to get lucrative postings, and once someone succeeds in his/her search, then for him all the remaining colleagues and the public become children of a lesser god.
Due to the commonality of de-facto parentage, interests, and parties, these ‘adopted children of superior gods’ gradually transform into a self-serving cannibalistic oligarchy and occupy all critical decision making slots like an octopus to serve the interests of their godfathers. Any officer, who is not a member of the oligarchy, is hardly given any good posting. This oligarchy is so powerful and pervasive that if any ‘child of a lesser god’ tries to question, resist, or obstruct their way, he/she is made out a horrible example. Turning someone into a rolling stone, surrendering and sending him to far-flung stations, and keep hounding him there too, through the good offices of ‘extended tentacles’, is a routine tactic of this oligarchy of cannibals.
Fake reports are managed to be generated against ‘children of a lesser god’ from different corners, and then their promotions are stopped, they are removed from the postings, and proceedings are started against them, and many a time organized defamation campaigns are launched against them also. Some simpletons, who, by chance, become privy to the genesis and ‘functions’ of such oligarchies but remain ‘uncivilized’, then they are coerced to remain silent. On the other hand, when it’s a matter of promotions and postings of ‘member cannibals’ then, by setting aside all past inquiries and investigations, postings on coveted slots, and promotions against non-existent seats are made even, without any regard to rules and norms.
Police officers arising from rural areas and middle classes are unlucky in another context also that they not only lose old friends on a fast speed but also fail in earning sincere friends afresh as they are generally surrounded by thugs, fraudulent white/gray collar criminals, and fair weather sycophants. Hence, whenever any bad time comes on such officers, then all of a sudden they find themselves stranded in a barren deserted place haunted with multi-faced ghosts. Where Abrar was facing all kinds of stresses and constraints faced by a police officer in routine, there he was made a rolling stone in the department and was posted on sidelined slots.
SSP Abrar (late) and ASP Khalil (late) are not just police officers, who were my batch-mates and friends, and who later became victims of the oligarchic system, BUT a worth studying phenomenon of shooting stars. A phenomenon wherein, passion and intellect shrouded in flesh and bones, fashioned in middle-class houses and streets, reach the corridors of powers, and then, in case he refuses to be a puppet or commits mistake while acting as a puppet, gets devoured by the omnipotent self-serving oligarchy of corrupt cannibals in the exploitative systems.
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