Meet Nazar Muhammad, the police officer who rides his bicycle to work

Every day, Nazar Muhammad, a down-to-earth police inspector, rides his bicycle for almost 30 minutes to work from his residence in Quetta’s Nawan Killi area. Recently, he came into the limelight when photos of him riding his bicycle went viral on social media. People hailed his simplicity and honesty.

In a country where policing is a notorious profession, Muhammad takes the lead in challenging the established practices and perceptions.

“I cannot even afford a motorcycle because it requires fuel, which is too expensive”, Muhammad said.

He lives in a rented house with his sister in one of the marginalised suburbs in Quetta. His monthly house rent is Rs10,000. He has three sons and one daughter. Two of the sons are government employees.

Nazar Muhammad is a rarity in Pakistan.
Nazar Muhammad is a rarity in Pakistan.

Currently, Muhammad has been serving as inspector in the Balochistan Constabulary, a reserved force of the police department. He joined the police force in 1974 as a constable and was promoted to an inspector position in 2006. Back in the day, his salary was a mere Rs120 but now his income corresponds to the rank he holds today.

Muhammad does have an official vehicle at his disposal but he only uses it when he is on duty.

He refuses to use any police vehicle for personal or family use, even if the majority of public servants in Quetta use official vehicles for out-of-office purposes, whether that be for their families, relatives or political supporters.

Every evening, it is common to see luxurious vehicles with government number plates at the Bacha Khan Chowk and in other parts of the city.

Despite the chance to avail luxuries, he chooses not to.
Despite the chance to avail luxuries, he chooses not to.

Muhammad has a different view.

“Pakistan is a poor country and we should use our government perks responsibly,” Muhammad asserts.

He is well-respected among his colleagues.
He is well-respected among his colleagues.

Muhammad will retire from service within the next year. “He is a very honest and committed officer,” a senior officer in Balochistan Constabulary reiterates. Adding that Muhammad sticks to his own business at work and has no time for superfluousness.

Unfortunately, there is a lack of dedicated and honest police officers in Quetta and other parts of the country.

Today, even low-ranking government employees commute in luxury vehicles.

Gone are the days when police officials would be as self-effacing like Muhammad. Only ruthless accountability can ensure better behaviour.

Nazar Muhammad began his career as a constable on a bicycle. He will end his career in the same manner as well. For him, honesty will always be above materialism.

Photo credit: Asmatullah Khan Kakar

Fazl calls for Afghans’ repatriation with dignity

ABBOTTABAD: Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has shown serious reservations about hasty repatriation of Afghan refugees, saying that the way they are being sent back is the worst example of ‘cruelty’.

The JUI-f chief asked that if there was peace in Afghanistan then why not the US and allied forces were leaving it. He said that Afghanistan was still in a war-like situation and there was bloodshed all around due to wrong policies of the US and its allies.

Mr Rehman said this while addressing a workers convention here at Abbottabad on Wednesday in connection with preparation for 100 years celebrations of JUI-F to be held in Peshawar.

He said that Pakistan was facing war on different fronts. He stressed upon the nation to be united and fight against all evils of the society with full force. Currently, the enemies of Islam are bent on imposing their own agenda, he said, adding the US would never succeed in making itself the only super power.

About the government’s policy regarding sending back Afghan nationals, he said that they were our “guests” and “brothers” so they should be treated well and be repatriated with dignity and respect. He said that still over two million registered and 1.5 million unregistered Afghans were living in Pakistan. He regretted that ‘our 40-year hospitality is going to be ruined if forceful repatriation of Afghans continued’.

The JUI-F chief suggested that the issue of repatriation of Afghans should be settled politically and by using diplomatic channels.

He lashed out at the PTI-led coalition government in the province and said that it had failed to deliver and mitigate miseries of people.

Mr Rehman expressed concern over the miseries of internally displaced persons from tribal areas. He said that though majority of IDPs had been repatriated to their native towns in tribal areas, they were spending miserable time because they had not been provided with proper facilities.

Robbery suspect ‘handed over to police’ killed in encounter

FAISALABAD: A man who was allegedly handed over to police by locals after a thwarted shop robbery bid, was later killed in an ‘encounter’ on Wednesday at Jaranwala.

According to Jaranwala Saddar police, two motorcyclists were looting people at gunpoint on Faisalabad Road when police confronted them.

Seeing police, the robbers opened fire which was returned. As a result, one of the robbers was hit by a bullet and died on the spot, while the other managed to escape.

Locals, however, refuted the police claim, saying two robbers occupying a car came to an auto shop near Saleemi Park, Lahore Road. They said the shop owner offered resistance and raised an alarm, alerting other shopkeepers who overpowered one of the robbers, while the other fled the scene.

The shopkeepers subjected the robber to torture before handing him over to city police. They said they also had a footage of the robber being taken away in a police van.

However, later Jaranwal Saddar police claimed to have killed the suspect, identified as Allah Ditta of Sargodha, in an encounter.

Chaman border closure leaves lasting effect

CHAMAN: Though traffic flows normally across the Pak-Afghan border at Chaman today, a set of unfortunate incidents resulted in complete closure of the border for 14 days, with things returning to normal on Sept 1.

The event had aggravated the already strained Pak-Afghan relationship, while also causing losses believed to be worth billions of rupees for traders and common people from both sides of the divide.

The reason behind the border closure was that on Aug 18, the participants of a rally organised by Pasban-i-Watan and PML-Q reached the Pak-Afghan border without any hurdle and staged a demonstration there against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his remarks about Balochistan. In response, a crowd of Afghans on the other side torched the Pakistani flag.

On the same evening, Pakistan was forced to close the border for an indefinite period and demanded an unconditional apology from the Afghan government. The Afghan administration questioned why Pakistani protesters had staged the rally at the Pak-Afghan border and accused them of burning President Ashraf Ghani’s portrait. When pressure mounted, the Afghan government condemned the incident in writing and assured that it would not happen again, leading to the reopening of the frontier.

Afghanistan is totally dependent on Pakistan for everything right from grain to milk, juices and electric appliances; the latter is the biggest market for smuggled Japanese and Chinese goods. Pakistan also imports fresh and dried fruits and scrap from Afghanistan. According to Pakistani customs officials, over 80pc goods of the Afghan transit trade return to Pakistani markets through smuggling.

In the aftermath of the border closure and subsequent reopening, not a single official from both the police and civil administration in Chaman is ready to accept responsibility for how a rally organised by pro-government parties managed to reach the border without any hurdle.

Deputy Commissioner Qaisar Khan Naasar expressed his ignorance, saying: “I and my administration had no knowledge about the rally and we got to know about it when they reached the border.” District Police Officer Sajid Khan Mohmand gave a similar response. Local residents also expressed their unawareness about the origins of the rally.

However, security officials have a different view. “It was a rally of civil society and if they raised slogans against Indians, torched their flag and Modi’s effigy, what objection do Afghans have and why [did] they disgrace our national pride [flag?],” asked Frontier Corps IG Major-General Sher Afgan. “No one should consider petty issues like disruption of business for a day or a week; [they] should think in broad perspectives as national honour is above everything,” he said.

Yet around one month after the ugly incidents occurred, local residents are still complaining about the losses they had to incur due to the closure. Long queues of trucks and pick-ups carrying goods from Pakistan were witnessed at the border, waiting for their turn to enter Afghanistan after completing the legal requirements of customs and security checks. After reopening of the border, FC Balochistan got the opportunity to impose some new regulations for the people going out or coming in purely for security purposes.

However, to compensate the people of Chaman, the FC has given a concession of smuggling flour for two hours a day. Hundreds of pushcarts loaded with sacks of flour are parked close to the border hours or even a day before their turn to enter Afghanistan finally comes.

“No Afghan can now enter Pakistan without any valid document of identity and similarly, residents of Chaman are allowed to cross the border with proof of identity,” Col Aziz Ahmad told Media. He said that 453-kilometre-long trenches had been dug along the border to check illegal crossings on 30 to 50 unfrequented routes.

Additionally, the government has decided to install a modern system called IBMS (Integrated Border Management System) linked with satellite with the help of Nadra to collect the data of all those who cross either side of the border. “The system is similar to the one installed at all airports,” said Rashid Mahmood of FIA.

In the past, it was much easier to enter Pakistan. Every Afghan of Pakhtun ethnicity used to enter Pakistan without any difficulty on showing a Pakistani CNIC, though it was harder for non-Pakhtun communities like Uzbeks, Hazaras and Tajiks to enter Pakistan, but not impossible courtesy the human smugglers. Chaman’s local residents are entitled to go to Afghanistan in the morning and return home in the evening for business.

The Afghan government has never accepted the regularisation of the border-crossing system. The Pakistani government had installed a modern biometric system at the border in January 2007 for recording fingerprints, retinas or facial patterns for identification upon entry and exit of persons. The Pakistani government tried its best to make use of this system, but the Afghan government’s response was always lukewarm.

Ultimately, after a few months of its installation, some 2,000 people entered Pakistan and stormed the booths of the biometric system, damaging them, thereafter returning to Afghanistan without any resistance. Since then Pakistan, due to Kabul’s pressure, never tried to regularise the border crossing.

According to a senior FC official who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the biggest hurdle is divided population as huge compounds are being built right at the border with two doors — one that opens into Pakistan, another into Afghanistan, and people cross through these compounds without any hurdle.

“Our revenue jumped from Rs950 million to Rs1.5 billion in the last six months in the wake of some measures to regularise trade for discouraging smuggling as Afghanistan sends us only fruits, both fresh and dry, and scrap, while everything you [can] name goes there,” said Hamid Qamberani, Assistant Collector, Customs. He said the losses were computed at Rs8.33m per day due to the border closure.

“The losses due to the closure run in billions of rupees as right from a shopkeeper and cart pusher to big trader all got affected,” Haji Abdul Ghani, the Senior Vice President of Chaman’s Chamber of Commerce, observed.

Will dissent within PTI affect Raiwind march?

PESHAWAR: At the much-publicised Raiwind march, the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf hopes to present a united front against the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government.

Instead, at this inopportune moment, intra-party differences between the PTI’s secretary general, Jahangir Khan Tareen, and the Insaf youth wing have come into the limelight.

On Sunday, reports emerged that the PTI’s youth wing was printing posters demanding Mr Tareen’s removal. The revolt started in response to his decision of dissolving the party’s youth, labour and women wings.

Ali Abbas Bukhari, who was the central president of the dissolved youth wing, criticised the decision, explaining that Mr Tareen’s plan was to remove the three wings from the centre and replace them with a regional presidential system.

“We do not accept Jahangir Tareen’s decision,” Mr Bukhari told Media. He believes that this dec­e­ntralisation “formula” will only weaken the party.

Ashraf Sohna, who was central president of the dissolved labour wing, agrees. He criticised Mr Tareen for replacing a functional administrative structure with a “temporary regional arrangement”.

Mr Sohna questioned the timing of the decision. “Right now we should avoid discussions which are bound to upset some people in the party.” He said the PTI should stand together at this time.

Mr Tareen said at a press conference in Islamabad on Monday that the PTI would again invite other parties to join the rally, and went on to dispel reports of a revolt. “We are a family. Even if we have disagreements, we speak to each other.”

He said people who brought these disagreements out in the public were working on the PML-N’s agenda.

Despite these claims, the disputes are apparent when members of the dissolved wings speak.

Mr Sohna and Mr Bukhari said they had held a three-hour-long meeting with PTI chairman Imran Khan over the dissolution of the wings. They claimed that the chairman had agreed that the decisions should have been taken after consulting the stakeholders.

Munaza Hassan, who was leading the women wing, was informed of the decision through a notification. She accepted the decision, but admits that this has “disturbed the party”.

The new plan was the result of fear rather than an attempt at good governance, some PTI sources believe. “Strong wings, especially the youth, had become a threat for the mother party at the centre and in provinces. This was the main reason behind dissolution of all wings,” says a party member.

While several party leaders were reportedly irked with the interference of the wings’ officeholders in the party’s affairs, they are unhappy with the dissolution decision just ahead of the Raiwind march.

Shaukat Yousafzai, a PTI leader, said that, “wings mobilise workers; it has become very difficult to bring out workers and the public from their houses when the wings are disturbed”.

Mr Yousafzai also showed reservation on the new decentralisation system and said that provincial structure of wings was very important.

Two years ago, the party’s sit-in outside parliament drew a noteworthy crowd, but things are different this time.

A PTI supporter in Peshawar noted that Raiwind was too far from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. “It will require more effort on the party’s part to make the rally a success,” he said.