right to choose
"If I have to lose my life in the
line of duty I will." – Former DIG Saleemullah Khan remains defiant
Saleemullah Khan fought everyone and everything that came his way in his quest for ensuring that the law was followed and justice served. As he became involved with the Mannu Bheel case, he stepped on more toes than he expected simply by playing fair. Kolachi spoke to the former DIG Mirpurkhas while he was in jail…
By Adeel Pathan
Former DIG Saleemullah Khan was released from jail on June 7, 2007.And while the Pandora's box of questions and accusations that has been opened because of his suspension earlier this year and subsequent arrest might not be closed as easily, an interview taken with him while he was in jail helps clarify the events that led to his imprisonment and the fight for justice that has ensued.
It began with a fight for Human Rights…
Saleemullah Khan grabbed attention when he took notice of crimes committed by police officials in his region, and took action against those who violated human rights and the law. His involvement with the case of bonded labourer Mannu Bheel in particular put him in the spotlight, as well as at odds with those above him.
The Mannu Bheel case lay dormant till 2006,when CJP Iftikhar Chaudry appointed Saleemullah Khan as chief investigation officer. Adur Rehman Mari, a landlord wanted in the case for the kidnapping of Mannu's family was arrested and the vehicle used in the kidnapping was recovered and the case presented to the court. This development made certain elements in the government uncomfortable.
Saleemullah Khan alleges in an application that was made available to Kolachi that the CM Sindh Dr Arbab Ghulam Rahim directly confronted him on various issues. The CM asked him to freeze investigation into the Mannu Bheel case but he kept moving ahead on the behest of the apex court. This angered the CM, according to Saleemullah, especially when he successfully arrested Mari, whom he refers to as an "elusive fugitive" for the Sindh Police. The Supreme Court led by CJP Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudry took suo moto notice of three more cases, one in Hyderabad and two in Mirpurkhas, of the illegal occupation of a petrol station and torture of citizens by the police. He admits that after coverage by the media and negative publicity a judicial and CM's special inquiry was ordered and some Mirpurkhas police officers including four SHOs were found guilty of torturing Naeem Arain and Hashim Jarwar.
A few weeks after this, in late April 2006, Saleemullah Khan was transferred suddenly and posted as an official on "special duty". However the CJP had him reinstated to continue his task of recovering Mannu's family. While Saleemullah blames the CM Sindh in his application, he says he was aware that he would invite the wrath of influential people for following the orders of the apex court.
A campaign to crush his spirit
Amidst all the subtle actions being taken against Saleemullah Khan, on October 22, 2006, an FIR was lodged with the town police station against him for trying to register a case against a senior police officer, rigging official documents and threatening police officials on duty. After this, Saleemullah was suspended and on the same day, armed policemen surrounded his official residence and he had to escape along with his family to Punjab. He was finally arrested in Islamabad on May 14 2007.
However elements that opposed him remained unhappy, despite him being put in jail. Saleemullah notes in his application that he was transferred from Central Jail Hyderabad to Mirpurkhas Jail in violation of orders of the court where policemen accused of torturing Naeem Arain were being held, to "humiliate" him.
During his imprisonment, a visiting doctor advised that Saleemullah Khan, who has suffered from hypertension for seven years needs to undergo five different diagnostic tests. However those in authority did not pay any heed to this suggestion.
It did seem, however, as that the idea was to make Saleemullah Khan as uncomfortable as possible. "Police officers whom Saleemullah suspended on various charges are in the same prison and they (low ranking police officials) taunt him. He is undergoing mental torture inside the prison," said Salahuddin Panhwar, advocate for the former DIG and president of the Mirpurkhas Bar Association. "Even I was not allowed twice to see my client in prison." he said, adding that it is foreseen that more cases against Saleemullah Khan will be lodged. According to the lawyer, Saleemullah is facing two cases at Sanghar and Mirpurkhas districts.
Saleemullah Khan was not allowed to meet his friends, relatives or the media at prison like any other prisoner would have been. It also seemed an extreme measure that he was not allowed to speak with his daughter who is a U.S. citizen.
Saleemullah's family suffered with him. His wife Rehana tells Kolachi that she and her daughter have stopped answering the phone and strange people lurk about their house. "We are being monitored," she explains.
When asked what the intention behind giving a senior official like her husband a rough time could be, Rehana replied that it is clear that he is being punished for pursuing the right path. She says that Chief Minister Arbab Rahim has taken things personally and her husband was punished for being true to the laws of the land. Rehana further says that her daughter is also feeling unsafe and therefore she goes along with her daughter to the school where she is appearing for her A-level exams. "I am not feeling well but sit till the end of the exam just because of a sense of insecurity," Rehana speaks in an emotional tone.
The cases lodged against Saleemullah Khan were not of a very serious nature and the act was simply one of mockery. It was a flexing of muscle by the feudal powers that continue to rule the land by virtue of their representation in Parliament and in provincial assemblies.
An officer, who wishes to remain anonymous, says that this act has only demoralized the police force. "Such an attitude towards an official of a high rank naturally brings our morale down." The officer observed, that the treatment meted out to Saleemullah Khan would further encourage the idea that the head of the province should be obeyed whether he is right or wrong. This goes against the oath that every policeman takes on the day he joins. It is a known fact that the political system that the police is subservient to, use the police force for their own agenda, which often runs contrary to the public good.
As Mannu waits for justice…
Mannu Bheel was also present in court when Saleemullah Khan appeared there. Mannu Bheel says that Saleemullah is the only man who can trace his family and hopes that he will be reinstated soon.
Saleemullah Khan however mentions another police officer who investigated the Mannu Bheel case and had made notable progress on it, but was suspended as well. "I'm not surprised," says Saleemullah, who feels that he might face further injustice because he got involved with an issue that is a cause of national and international embarrassment for the country. He says it is saddening that instead of getting rid of problems such as bonded labour, the system would rather get rid of the people who bring these issues to the forefront.
A spirit unbroken
Saleemullah Khan served as DIG for more than 20 years, and when asked why he could not come to terms with the way police officers worked in Sindh he said that "It's quite natural because I have not grown up in wadera (feudal) culture. My father was a public servant. I was taught that nobody is above or below the law."
Saleemullah is of the opinion that the arrest of a DIG does not reflect anything on the police force. The way Saleemullah Khan sees it, the police force is also bound to follow the law. Saleemullah maintains that if he thinks it necessary that the SHO of a police station is subverting justice, As DIG, he has to put the SHO behind bars at his own station. This is allowed in the line of duty.
Saleemullah Khan himself has not lost his spirit, he remained upbeat during the interview. He maintains that he does not regret his decision of living in Pakistan as he loves this country and everything it stands for. "If I have to lose my life in the line of duty, I will," he says firmly.
Whatever the charges that the government and police framed against Saleemullah Khan, one thing that became clear is that the police system remained under immense pressure from political quarters. The future of important cases, like that of Mannu Bheel, remains suspended alongwith Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry.
The government should try to avoid treating anyone in such a manner, whether he is a government official or a common man. The law is the same for everyone, which is why it should be held supreme. Saleemullah Khan's release from prison has proven his innocence. Yet his case, alongwith that of Mannu Bheel's and in a larger context that of Chief Justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, all pose a big question mark about the rule of law in the land of the pure.
The drug law of demand and supply
Pakistan's premiere metropolis is also home to a flourishing drug trade. Kolachi speaks with both drug users and drug dealers
By Muhammad Shahbaz Zahid
M Farooq Khan and Athar Khan
has been revolutionized in recent times. Various development projects have
been introduced, some of which have been completed and are functional.
Karachiites are working harder by the day to make their city a better place
to live in; is the city going in the right direction?
all urban centers in the world, there are vices that enter through some back
door in some nether region. Drug addiction is the most insidious of these.
In Karachi, the frequency of drug abuse is highest amongst the skilled and
unskilled labour categories (47 per cent), followed by business people (16
per cent), agricultural workers (5 per cent) and students (3 per cent).
the cloud of drug abuse ballooning rapidly,
research finds that hashish is the most commonly used. Known in local
parlance as charas, it seems to be the drug of choice in Karachi in terms of
lifetime use and prevalence. While hashish is categorized as a drug, most
users do not perceive it as a cause of social upheaval. However, in some
areas, hashish related troubles have been reported. Karachi is a big city,
one of the most sprawling and populated in the world. With the growing rate
of drug abuse, it is difficult for administrators to track down the dealers
and know their hiding places and costumers. Add to that a high level of
corruption in the police force and you have an environment in which the drug
trade can flourish easily.
form a large part of drug consumers in Karachi. We caught up with MYC ,an
engineering student, whose middle name is Yasir. He told us: "There are
a lot of places here where you can find people selling charas. Once you get
into smoking this stuff, you can easily track down the dealers of different
who will be 24 soon and lives in North Nazimabad.
don't have to go to places far from ours," he says. "There are
dealers who live near Pahaar Gunj (a hilly sort of area located behind North
Nazimabad). Once you get into the smoking circle, you make contacts and then
start buying stuff for yourself. Areas behind the Intermediate Board office,
Block P, Q, R and S have many dealers living there who can be contacted by a
phone. You can go to their places, but that's dangerous; you might bump into
mobile snatchers or even policemen."
22, works as a medical representative and is also a resident of North
Nazimabad. He tells Kolachi about his connections: "Stuff (charas) has
become quite common. Youngsters are going for it because it is easily
available. Many of the dealers live in the behind our block. They have
different hideouts so it is difficult to track them but once you find their
agents, you can easily buy stuff from them".
in the areas around North Nazimabad are in big numbers as well. MZA, tells
us about the areas near his locality where drug selling is at its peak.
"The nearest place to find charas and its dealers here is behind Shadab
told us about a place near the Tahir Villa roundabout in FB Area. "The
dealers live behind the cricket ground. It is easy to locate the dealers, as
everybody around knows them. You pay them, take the stuff and go home".
sometimes it's not that easy to go there and make a comfortable exit as
Zeeshan discovered. "Policemen are also involved with dealers," he
warns Kolachi. "If you are a regular customer and the dealers know you,
it's alright. But if you are a new face they won't give you charas. Even if
they do, the police would know that a new customer has arrived in the
market. The dealers are in contact with the police and they inform them
about any new customers that they get. The police will track you down after
that and will only let you go once you've paid a bribe to free yourself. Oh
and they will also take the charas from you".
managed to trace out a drug dealer, who did not tell us his original name
but spoke about the drug dealing in Karachi.
(pseudonym), 32, lives in Yasrab Colony near Super Highway; it's quite far
away from the main city, near Baqai Medical College. When asked about his
trade Mr. D said: "Though this area is quite far from the city, people
come in large numbers because we sell the best quality charas there
D, this knowledge is a source of great pride. Asked how he gets charas
himself, he said it isn't difficult to have it sent here. The usual way of
trading charas from different areas of Pakistan or neighbouring countries
like Afghanistan is via buses and trucks. As the Super Highway is the main
route, it is easy for Mr. D to have it sent to him.
the stuff comes from Peshawar and Quetta where they grow it," says Mr
D. "There are areas called Ilaqa-e-Ghair in the NWFP. That stuff is
also exported. There is a huge market of hashish smokers so I am not sure if
the amount grown here in Pakistan is sufficient but even if it isn't, they
can always import it from our neighbours."
dangerous is the job of selling charas in Karachi? Mr. D calmly replies:
"Very. Sometimes you have to run for your life. But when you get into
the groove and start making contacts, it becomes easy. Connections with the
police and other agencies are very necessary otherwise we would be doomed. A
friend of mine has been to jail twice."
student, FAR, who is doing his Masters in Business Administration from a
reputable institute, has been smoking dope for the last four years. He
smokes everyday. How does he manage to buy so much stuff on regular basis?
Isn't it a waste of money as well as an adverse effect on one's health?
enough FAR is well aware of these things. "Yeah! It is. But it is
getting out of control. I need it every hour of the day. Though it has
affected both my mental and physical health I can't stop smoking weed. It
sure is a waste of money though".
expensive is the drug in Karachi? FAR replies: "There are different
rates at different places. It also depends upon the quality of the stuff.
Sometimes you buy stuff for around 2000 rupees for 50 grams. You can even
find people selling it at around 800 rupees for 50 grams but it is of very
is not the only drug being infused in our society. There are other
substances available which are far more harmful to the users health and his
environment; namely heroin, ecstasy and crack cocaine. These substances are
regularly imported on a large basis and their dealers are making big bucks.
With the involvement of law-enforcing departments making their job easier,
they roam Karachi streets. One has to take notice of this trend to control
should be aware of their children's activities. School, college and
university administrations should be watchful of their students and
employees who are sometimes involved in distributing drugs on campus.
the existence of this issue and being vigilant about it is an important
measure to take if we want to keep Karachi from being permanently immersed
in a vicious drug culture.
Our right to choose
With the President handing Pemra a new set of dentures, emotions ran high in the country. As journalists protested restrictions on media, politicians expressed their views on the Amendment and intellectuals waxed eloquent, ordinary Karachiites felt cheated.
By Amina Baig
a dreamer, but I always believed that our President was one of the most
benevolent leaders this country has ever had the pleasure of being governed
by. As someone who has followed his political career from the coup on
October 12 1999,I have felt that General Musharraf is a man who is able at
handling the masses and political situations diplomatically.
however, not have been able to make this judgment, based on what I have seen
of him on the television, and read in the newspapers had there been measures
taken to restrict content, and circulation. With the Pemra (Amendment)
Ordinance 2007 being introduced though, things don't look too good for the
future of informed decision making.
restrictions are ridiculous," says Fatima a housewife"people need
to know the truth because it has a way of emerging anyway. you can control
what the newspapers are publishing, or what piece of news or observation is
being aired on TV in your own country, but there many foreign channel
representatives in Pakistan and someone or the other will cover what's
it feels as though the last eight odd years of enlightenment and moderation
never happened. It also feels as though by warning the media that anything
run by them that is detrimental to State image or angles any aspect of the
government and the people working for it will result in the confiscation of
equipment and premises every other right as a nation that we have had will
be taken away.
feel that their intelligence has been insulted by introducing this
Amendment." In this day and age when information is just a mouse-click
away, how will ceasing transmission of one channel, or controlling what
you're showing on others help?" says one such person." We will
just find different ways of getting the information we want."
is the government afraid of?" asks Noor, an artist"if there's
something to hide then its time people knew."
truth is that everyone knows exactly what is going on in the country, and
the media is not contorting facts and figures just to make the government
look bad. The government is doing a spanking good job of that on its own by
introducing measures that suggest it is afraid of what might be revealed
people oppose the media repression though and believe that the media is
acting like a naughty child that needs to be put in a corner. "Have you
seen what is being said on some of the shows?" Seethes one elderly
gentleman. "It is blatant rebellion against the State!" He refers
to a comment made about ripping off skin along with the uniform. "Tell
me, had you been in this position, how comfortable would you be with these
statements being made about you?"
admit that such comments are a bit much and in bad taste, isn't it part of
the job description of public figures to be a bit thick-skinned and tolerant
when it comes to off colour remarks being made about them, along with those
that praise them?
Pakistani media has supported the President and lauded his efforts, which
brought about positive changes in the country. The President however has not
taken kindly to the criticism of some of his recent, ill-advised decisions.
And it seems a bit odd that the President cannot be kind to the media that
has been kind to him for so long.
argue that where restrictions have not been imposed on unintelligent shows,
why deprive the public of things that might actually educate them, if only
about the news of the day.
a billion new private channels opening up, are people only going to watch
plastic talk shows and morning shows as long as nobody dares to talk about
the current situation? The media isn't supposed to be a biased body. Putting
a cross dresser with opinions on one side and media black outs on the other
paints a very strange picture." opines a 25 year old teacher.
As I asked different
people how they felt about the Amendment, I did find a common
ground that all of them stopped on. Each person spoke of how after
May 12, the news of this Amendment being introduced hit them harder.
lived in Karachi through the violent 90s and the recent, comparatively
peaceful years, I have recently watched Karachi backtrack a decade and then
some as things that go awry in the capital manifest themselves more tangibly
here. Karachiites who were not out creating havoc on the streets on May 12,
watched horrorstruck as the events of the day unfolded on their televisions.
Had there been no TV coverage of the protest being observed that day, no one
across the country would ever know how hellish things got that day. Even for
the people in Karachi, had images of the kind of violence being unleashed
that day not been aired, most would have written the day off as just another
friend tells me that she was leaving for work when her mother stopped her.
As Karachiites we have become immune to the threats that a strike offers,
and her mother says that had she not watched the protests being aired on
television, she would have probably let her go.
I'm sure of though is, that more horrifying to the people of Karachi that
day was the rally the President had held in Islamabad the same day. It was
however, the media that covered the jubilation of that rally, along with the
not so jubilant things taking place in Karachi. The media did not feel it
should censor the rally, just because it might hurt the sentiments of
remember an advertisement on TV a long time ago, touting advertising as the
right to choose. In light of recent events I have to say that it's not just
true of advertising, but of being informed as well. Letting information flow
freely and allowing people to make those informed decisions is a basic right
of any nation, and no body should be able to take it away.
What's cooking with Zia?
By Nabeel Naqvi
year-old Ziaullah works at a tandoor in a busy residential area in Karachi.
Zia was a little reluctant about giving the interview; but when he was told
that he would get published in a renowned daily newspaper, he gladly agreed.
The green-eyed Zia seems to be enjoying life in Karachi and the contrast it
offers to life in his hometown, Swat.
When did you come to Karachi?
I came to Karachi 12 years back; at that time I was about 12 years of age.
So, why did you decide to leave Swat?
My cousins were here in Karachi, so, when I grew older they asked me to join
them here. I have two elder sisters and a brother who is younger than me so
inevitably I had to share the financial responsibilities with my father; as
a result I migrated to Karachi in search of a living.
What kind of job did you get when you came here?
I worked at a hotel in the beginning but after a few years I quit my job and
started working at the tandoor.
Are you married Zia, because it is customary amongst Pathans to get married
at an early age?
Yes, I am married and I have three children. My wife and kids live with my
parents in Swat. I have two daughters and a son; my eldest daughter is
around 6 years old and my son is 2!
What does your father do? And is your brother studying in Swat? Tell us
about your family in Swat.
My father is a landlord and my brother is here in Karachi with me. I called
him a couple of years back to join me he is just 16 years old. My sisters
are both married and they also live in Swat.
Your children can have a bright future in Karachi, when do you plan on
bringing them here?
I have no plans yet of bringing my family to Karachi. I feel life in Karachi
is really tough and it will be hard for my kids to adapt to such a fast
paced life. I agree they will get better education here but there are other
factors that are forcing me to keep them there in Swat. They are living a
satisfied life Mashallah.
How often do you visit your family in Swat?
I go to visit my family in Swat twice a year. Living here in Karachi away
from my family has never been easy for me. So, after every 6 months I return
to Swat, I miss my family.
How much do you earn working here?
I am a daily wager; I get around 200-250 rupees. everyday. Before this
however, when I was working at a hotel I was earning less than what I get
Are you able to support your family with what you earn and are you yourself
satisfied with it?
Yes, I am quite satisfied with life. I send money to my family in Swat and
Mashallah things are going fine. Hard times do come in everyone's life and
my life is not an exception but you have to learn to live with all the
hardships that life has to offer.
Do you plan to work here all your life or is there a twist in the tale?
Well, as far as I don't get a better job I am here, and I am pretty
satisfied also. But, there is of course a desire to earn more and give my
family all they need. I want my children to attain good education and I want
a good future for them; it's my dream just like every other father.
What languages can you speak?
My mother tongue is Pashto, but I can speak Urdu quite fluently because of
the fact that I have lived half my life in Karachi. (Smiles)
Where in Karachi do you live and how do you manage?
As I told you that my cousins came here before me, so my brother and I live
with them here. In fact this shop also belongs to one of my cousins.
Did you have to face any kind of troubles working here?
Some 9 years ago when the price of wheat went sky-high all of a sudden our
business got affected very badly and as a result life became tougher than
ever. Inevitably we had to increase the unit price to compensate the loss.
How do you find the people of Karachi?
People in Karachi are good but sometimes you get to meet people who are just
a little too self-centered. People are quite civilized as you would expect
in a city as big as Karachi, but there are 'other' kinds of people also.
Actually Karachi is a huge city to say the least so you can find all sorts
of people here.
What about Karachi as a city?
Karachi is a wonderful city. There are a lot of opportunities in Karachi but
one has to work really hard to avail them. Life in Swat on the contrary is
very different, most of the people in Swat are into agriculture and their
lives are quite slow. Life in Karachi is full of adventures.
says Karachi has changed his life completely but then again there is no
place like home. He is working his back off to give his family a comfortable
life but does not want them to share the burden that he is carrying on his
shoulders. He is willing to provide his kids all the necessities of life
working here in Karachi where he doesn't even have a single day off... such
is the life of this Karachi character.