Corporate and Individual Safety

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Whether it is Shaukat Raza Mirza in Karachi or Siddique Khan Kanju in Multan, the elimination of a human beings by violent means is almost always for a purpose, whether or not they have a standing in society. Except for those targetted by the totally insane, there is always motivation for murder. The assumptions for Siddique Khan Kanju (and his former MPA Joya) are reasonably straightforward, political violence created a blood cyde, for those who tend to live by the sword it is only a matter of time before opponents discover a chink in the armour. Shaukat’s was a far different proposition. Was it a cold blooded attempt to create economic disorder in the country given that before taking over as MD Pakistan State Oil (PSO) he had been a high profile executive of a US company? Was it a Shia-Sunni thing? Was it linked to employee unrest because of the downsizing of PSO? Or simply a hit ordered by a combination of overseas corporate entities with their local employee collaborators who stood to lose billions of rupees annually because they ran up against an honest man who tightened the rules of the game to their detriment? In picking Shaukat Mirza for a professional hit by what are almost certainly hired assassins at a carefully chosen ambush point, the perpetrators of the dastardly act not only covered their tracks but succeeded beyond measure in terrorizing a whole range of corporate executives, some of them expatriate Pakistanis who had left far safer (and better paid) jobs abroad to serve their country. Even if they should choose jobs linked to now be controversy they will be averse to rocking the existing boat. In Karachi, the nation’s commercial capital, the corporate individual is now a person besieged physically, in fending for his safety and that of his family, and psychologically, out of the apprehension of impending doom without any warning. Abraham Maslow’s theory of a hierarchy of needs of a human being includes self-actualization, esteem and love, but has at its very base, safety and survival.

Kanju’s guards lacked professionalism. Very few who brandish weapons as bodyguards have the sustained weapon or tactical training necessary. Drivers almost never have “Evasion and escape” training. Despite receiving threatening calls in his high profile job, Shaukat did not have any security cover with him. The ultimate paradox is that senior executives sometimes remain indifferent to personal security, what should be a fundamental premise in a bad law and order environment. Personal security is not the responsibility of the State but that of the individual, and if the individual is a corporate animal, that of his corporation.

The abysmal state of affairs come from reasons primarily political, compounded by religious strife and ethnic divide, there is the residual of the Afghan war, the emergence of special interest groups, what we loosely call “the mafia”, eg. the “land” mafia, the “water” tanker mafia, the “oil tanker” mafia, the “reti-bajri” mafia, the “transport” mafia, etc. The involvement of members of our law enforcement agencies in criminal activity has increased multifold because of politicization, the erosion of their professionalism, merit has become a disqualifier and has been replaced wholesale by nepotism, the selection of personnel has been atrocious. Ill paid, ill-equipped and ill-trained, police remain indifferent when threatened with change. To put it bluntly, the complement of the present police services are mostly beyond reform. Many police officers have served with honesty and dedication, those who are still serving are in such a minority that their very survival is threatened if they break the code of silence that has made corruption so endemic that many of the so-called “mafias” are believed to have quasi-police control. The Police Reforms envisage a quantum of judicial power to be given to the police officer, putting the citizen from the frying pan directly into the fire. Unless we have a strong Provincial police and a Federal Police super-imposed what more is required to turn this country into a police State?

The affluent have far greater to fear than the not so unfortunate, that is nature way’s of balancing things. To the individual, both human and electronic safety measures are available. Many cannot afford security guards but electronic safety is becoming more and more sophisticated, and more and more affordable, even in the upper range of sophisticated high tech gadgets or including an alarm triggered from the mobile phone, the chip also providing accurate global positioning by satellite receivers to within 10 meters, provided there is digitalization of maps of all the cities and towns of Pakistan. The telephone alarm system is only as good as your telephone system, would you trust your life to a telephone call? In regions of uneven telephone operations, the Radio-Alarm System (RAS), having become far more economical, is a must for those who can afford it, which means about every corporate executive in the country and his/her equivalent in the private sector self-employed. Close Circuit Television (CCTV) has had a quantum jump because of fiber-optics (and now the internet) to remote CCTV, which can be rigged to sensor, to infra-red, etc to trigger off an alarm at any intrusion so that real-time pictures can be seen at any monitoring station or control room. A whole range of bomb detectors, walk-through gates, mirrors, etc are also available. Cash is increasingly being moved in armoured vans. Those who use soft-skin vehicles for moving cash have no conscience towards their employees in using these death traps.

President Roosevelt said “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself”, unquote. Hardly had Shaukat Mirza been buried than a major bank resounded its decision to close 350 unprofitable un-needed bank branches, it doesn’t need a clairvoyant to tell us that threats must have been made for the decision to be changed. One must always be apprehensive about a possible threat but one must not take counsel of one’s fears. While one cannot encourage or even condone vigilante justice, we must take a stand against terrorism. The very best example of this in the whole world is our Citizens Police Liaison Committee (CPLC) that has successfully combatted kidnapping for ransom in Karachi. The biggest anti-dote to terrorist threat is the positive combative stance of the individual and the corporation. No doubt their resolve will be tested but criminals will not have the field day they are getting now. If the individual or the corporation is seen to be submissive, those who have an interest in putting them under criminal mental and physical pressure will do so.

Very few violent criminals are brought to justice because fear of retribution drives witnesses away, only special courts with in-camera proceedings and manned by a special breed of magistrates can bring the terrorist to book. The way the laws are framed, the functioning of the judiciary today provides the terrorist protection instead of persecution. To the legal puritans circumstantial evidence may not be enough deterring for guilt. Gen Babar’s methods in Karachi may have been too extreme, innocents must have died in the crossfire of battle, some may have been targetted unjustly, in the final analysis Karachi was rid of political militancy for a number of years. That is what saved Karachi from anarchy but at some cost to civilized society. Looking back, the price was worth paying.

The State can only give the citizenry protection, as a whole, individual safety remains the responsibility of the citizen. Throughout the world the forces of law and order are a lesser in number than the number of personnel in private security companies. Mushrooming growth in Pakistan has been replaced by consolidation, freeing personnel of law enforcement agencies to do their own jobs. In choosing your protectors, look at their recruitment and training standards, verification and monitoring procedures, above all look at their communications and back-up.

Society cannot afford to roll over and play dead, motivated criminals of the kind who targetted Shaukat Raza Mirza thrive on inaction. To quote Marcus Aurelius, “it is not death a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live”, unqoute. And a terrorist is a terrorist, he must be given the shortest shrift, whoever he is. Why should society give him the benefit of doubt? Have we found those who murdered Shahid Hamid? And Hakim Saeed? And the four Americans who came to audit Union Texas? Maybe it is time we learnt something from how the Israelis operate, how no one who has committed a terrorist act against them will be safe in any haven in any part of the world. An eye for an eye is a Muslim premise, in today’s world the ideological Jewish State of Israel has perfected it to a fault. Targetting cars carrying suspected terrorists by air-to-ground missiles may be drastic, it sends a very unambiguous message, you can run, you cannot hide. Terrorists only understand the same language they speak.

Mr. Ikram Sehgal is Publisher and Managing Editor of Defence Journal (Pakistan). He was Chairman APSAA for the year 2000, now acting in adhoc capacity pending elections for the year 2001.

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