Security situation in Islamabad
So how are things in Islamabad nowadays? Well, apart from the excruciating heat, the sweaty underarms and the dehydration, there are the really annoying security measures which have been taken up by the authorities in Islamabad, which require every walking/driving/flying citizen to prove his identity anywhere and everywhere. They are annoying, but they are probably the only way the police, and other forces can take control of the situation in the capital. Oftentimes, I am reminded of the enormity of the situation by the policemen themselves, telling me that if I don’t cooperate and go through the hassle of proving my identify and getting my backpack checked every morning three times by three different security officials, I might get blown up like an overstuffed chicken in a microwave by some happy-go-lucky virgin loving bearded buffoon, ready to get his one way ticket to paradise.
The high security areas are particularly the most problematic for the daily commuter. There are places like the Marriott hotel area where you can’t walk down the footpath without a dozen eyes watching you. There are those 360 degree Marriott security cameras, the guards spread out in front of the hotel, illegally occupying the road, there are the Frontier Constabulary guys mounted on their machine guns and blowing whistles every time someone gets too close to their enclosure, and there are the measly police men with their taped AK47’s, their dangling bullet proof vests and their sweat ridden brows. No matter how bothersome they can get at times, I do feel sorry for these people whenever I watch them guarding at their positions. What do they tell their families when they go out every morning to work? How do their children feel about their father who is out there on the road, risking his life to protect others? How do these security people perform their duties knowing very well that there is no guarantee that they might live to see another day? So, I don’t like to argue with them like other people usually do to get past a seemingly annoying security check. I let them do what they want to do.
In a situation like this, how should an ordinary citizen react? Here are a few important points that one should consider while outside:
- Always carry your ID with you, be it your workplace ID or your Government ID. Keep photocopies of your ID in your purse/wallet for submission where ever required by security officials.
- Keep your driving license and vehicle documents with you while driving. Always keep an attested photocopy of your vehicles documents to show to security officials on demand. Give the photocopied document first, only show them the real thing if they insist or the situation permits.
- Do not carry large bags around which might make you look suspicious.
- Try not to walk around high security areas for too long. Remember that there are quite a number of places in the capital where 360 degree cameras have been installed, and your image repeatedly sent on the security screens doesn’t sound like a very good thing.
- Do not argue with security officials. Try not to waste time arguing with them particularly at dangerous places like security check posts and road blocks. It is always safe to show them your ID before they even ask for it. Oftentimes they would even let you pass without asking too much details if you show your ID earlier.
- Stay away from crowds. Even walking in large groups with friends can prompt the security officials to stop you all and question you about your purpose on coming to the area.
- Although it’s a noble thing to report any suspicious behavior to the authorities whenever you see one, it is wise not to get involved with the authorities at all! However, you should not hesitate to report a suspicious inanimate object to the authorities so that quick investigation can take place.
- Try not to carry metallic objects or other items that would slow your progress down a security check. Keep minimal items and a handy bag which can be quickly opened and closed when a security official needs to check.
- Always make sure that your cellphone has credit and that it is fully charged whenever you go out.
These few points and others can increase your safety index, decrease your chances of getting stuck in a security problem, and even more important, protect you from potential dangers like explosions and other acts of terrorism.