Friday October 22, 2021

‘You can’t rough up anyone just because you need security’

July 05, 2018

In the light of the recent VIP movement incident in the city, civil society members gathered at the Karachi Press Club on Wednesday to protest against the harassment of citizens at the hands of the police officials who are part of security protocols.

On July 2 Jibran Nasir, rights activist and independent contestant for the NA-274 constituency, was briefly taken into custody by officials who were part of a VIP movement of Justice Faisal Kamal, whose guards manhandled Nasir for allegedly blocking the way.

Civil society activists held banners and wore stickers reading “No to VIP culture”, and shouted slogans against such security protocols causing problems for citizens who also need to use the same routes as VIPs.

“Security has been taken away from politicians on the orders of the chief justice, and while we feel there are some judges who need security protocols, it doesn’t mean they can rough up anyone who is in their way,” said activist Talha Rehman.

“We go through this nuisance every day, and feel that it needs to end once and for all. Jibran Nasir fell prey to this earlier and has voiced criticism against these measures once again. We’re trying to make sure his voice doesn’t fade away.”

Rehman said police officials must also be imparted sensitisation training to handle citizens, even if they are criminals, because beating up any person will not help in upholding the rule of law.

Another protester, Danial Shahid, said it is time for the system to stop treating people like third-rate citizens. “I’m sure everyone in Karachi has experienced it. This is a protest against this unjust system,” he added.

“We shall go through the proper channels provided to the common Pakistani to get justice. The system is in place to assist us. However, so far all it has done is let us down.”

Addressing the demonstrators, Nasir said that traffic was earlier blocked to pave the way for a motorcade, adding that while its need could be understood, the assault by the protocol officers left one baffled.

“How is it acceptable for any vehicle to pass through despite traffic, by pushing one car and using hooters, and displaying weapons to instil fear among citizens?” he asked.

“We pay our taxes for these very protocols, and while we understand the need for security for government officials, bureaucracy, judiciary and military officials, we also know that their lives are not above the life of a common citizen.”

Nasir asked the chief justice to conduct an inquiry into the July 2 incident, calling for setting rules for VIP movements to safeguard citizens’ rights as well as their vehicles. He demanded that the CCTV footage of the incident be made public.