Saturday, August 17, 2013



Islamabad police has been unnecessarily criticized for its handling of the incident in which an armed man, accompanied by his wife and two children, held Islamabad hostage for five hours. Sikandar choked life on Jinnah Avenue armed with two automatic weapons, and his demeanour suggested any attempt to take him out at once might harm his family. His shifting demands, where at one time he wanted to impose Shariah in Pakistan and at another referred to himself as a man on a mission to kill some high profile personality in the capital, compelled the police to show restraint. He was thought to be drunk and had even demanded the government should
step down. Through what seemed like a war of nerves, the administration wanted to capture the man alive as advised by the interior minister, once he was exhausted. Then, Zamurad Khan, a PPP stalwart, who ostensibly could not tolerate the humiliation Sikandar was subjecting the country to, decided to intervene even at the risk of putting his life in harm’s way. After the prolonged standoff and the police’s negotiations failed to end the drama, Zamurad Khan used the ploy of meeting Sikandar’s children to attempt to overpower Sikandar, but failed. Sikandar was then shot in the chest and leg by police commandos. It was both a daring and a risky step taken by Zamurad.

That the man held Islamabad hostage for five hours is not as big an issue as the media and commentators have made out. Standard operating procedure in such situations is to try and wear down the protagonist and thereby avoid unnecessary loss of life. The more important question is how Sikandar with two automatic weapons could enter the highly guarded areas of Islamabad through all the check posts that dot the roads. It goes without saying that he was helped to pass over these hurdles because he was accompanied by his wife and children, as the check posts usually let cars containing families go easily. Such consideration for women and children stemming from our cultural norms needs to be reassessed when the country is passing through dire times. Another security lapse occurred when Zamurad was allowed to approach the man. If the police had a plan, why did it allow someone, even with the best of intentions, to take such a big risk? What if in the process Zamurad or the woman and children had been killed? Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has ordered an inquiry into why Zamurad was allowed to intervene. This strange encounter is a reminder that a lot of spadework is still pending to secure the country.

Courtesy Daily Times

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