‘My fam­ily thought I was wast­ing time’

AISHA HAD TO DEFY THE ODDS TO BE­COME THE FACE OF PO­LICE SER­VICE

Gulf News - - FRONT PAGE - BY MEHR TARAR The writer is a colum­nist and for­mer op-ed ed­i­tor of Daily Times, Pak­istan.

Aisha Butt de­fies the odds to be­come face of good polic­ing

Ilove crime drama. Ev­ery part of a crime story is a fas­ci­nat­ing facet of hu­man­ity that is dark, in­com­pre­hen­si­ble, twisted. The cal­cu­lated ruth­less­ness of a per­pe­tra­tor’s planning, ex­e­cu­tion, con­ceal­ment, and at times, rep­e­ti­tion of a crime, is riv­et­ing in its metic­u­lous­ness to do the bad with the reck­less cer­tainty of in­vin­ci­bil­ity.

Crime, and in par­tic­u­lar, that in which a life is taken, has the hu­man in­evitabil­ity of be­ing un­cov­ered and pun­ished. The hu­man pen­chant for in­flict­ing pain is a per­pet­ual enigma to me, a part of be­ing hu­man that I find un-re­lat­able and un­ac­cept­able in any form. The process of catch­ing a crim­i­nal is ergo of im­mense im­por­tance to me, in real and reel life.

The ideal force

Po­lice de­tec­tive work that I see in TV shows, films and doc­u­men­taries is my ideal of a po­lice force. For­ma­tion of a case through a thor­ough process of foren­sic sci­ence, ev­i­dence-gath­er­ing, non-vi­o­lent in­ter­ro­ga­tion, tes­ti­monies, and find­ing the cul­prit. That to me is a real po­lice force. Be­yond the fun­da­men­tal du­ties of main­te­nance of law and order and safety of cit­i­zens, they un­cover crimes. Some­times, it takes years. As a Pak­istani, the word ‘po­lice’ con­jures up a mon­tage of im­ages. Most of them are erasable.

Pak­istan’s po­lice are jaded clichés in bi­na­ries of black and white. In­dif­fer­ence to com­mon man’s pain, cor­rup­tion, def­er­ence to money and power, co­erced con­fes­sions, tor­ture in lock-up, shoddy in­ves­ti­ga­tion and follow-up, trig­ger-happy, and ex­perts of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings.

While all the bad is true, there has al­ways been the un­told story. Of much that is good and noble and self­less in the or­gan­i­sa­tion whose ex­is­tence is pro­grammed to pro­tect, and to do it with­out dis­crim­i­na­tion, with­out pres­sure, with­out mak­ing it look like a favour.

The idea of a good po­lice of­fi­cer has been re­duced to the uni­di­men­sional ‘good guy’ who only makes sense in a TV

Our home en­vi­ron­ment was such that our neigh­bours didn’t know how many daugh­ters my fa­ther had.”

Aisha Butt | Su­per­in­ten­dent of po­lice

se­rial or a film. Good po­lice of­fi­cers are not a rar­ity. They are just not ‘in­ter­est­ing’. They don’t shoot their guns in slowmo. There is no back­ground mu­sic when they fight the bad guys. I thought of writ­ing about some of them. Some­one has to.

A story of courage

I no­ticed her on Twit­ter in Novem­ber 2019 when she posted a photo in her of­fi­cial uni­form con­duct­ing her of­fi­cial work while hold­ing her baby.

The cap­tion said: “It is dif­fi­cult but not im­pos­si­ble.” Two months later, I got in touch with her to talk to her about her work in a pro­fes­sion that is so male-dom­i­nated and testos­terone driven, a fe­male of­fi­cer is as rare a sight as sun­light in Antarc­tica. Su­per­in­ten­dent of Po­lice Aisha Butt of the Po­lice Ser­vice of Pak­istan. Daugh­ter, wife, mother, po­lice of­fi­cer, boss, Aisha is many things, in no par­tic­u­lar order. What is spec­tac­u­lar about Aisha: she is the face of the best of the Po­lice Ser­vice of Pak­istan.

Those who take their work se­ri­ously, those who care, those who do their best to make the world a bet­ter, a kinder place. Aisha’s story is an in­spi­ra­tional, feel-good cel­e­bra­tion of the power of dream­ing and turn­ing the dream into a splen­did re­al­ity.

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