I was extremely pleased at the ground-breaking ceremony of a world class Road Safety Institute and Driving School at Karachi. But some bad news about the home province of the Founder of the Nation and the country dismayed me a lot and I wished to be at Baba’s grave. DIG A D Khowaja told the driver to take us to the Quaid’s mausoleum. When we went up stairs we met the commander of the Naval Guard. I expressed reservations about the security and he agreed. After the salute and prayers I was overwhelmed by emotions. The whole life of the Quaid and his struggle went through my mind. The socialite and the most well dressed and affluent lawyer of Bombay Muhammad Ali Jinnah when took the banner for the rights of Muslims, he abandoned everything else in life. Thereby it was only one vision and mission to give Muslims a separate identity, and stature as well as to protect their rights. He sacrificed everything — his health, family, and life — to attain the objective. With his frail tuberculosis ridden body, he confronted the mighty and powerful and snatched from them the greatest blessing of the world — Freedom.
Not only did he save us from a life of servitude and gave us an independent state but bestowed everything upon us, bequeathing all his properties to different educational institutions. Reportedly before departing, Quaid-i-Azam left his greatest legacy ‘Pakistan’ to the youth and said, ‘my children, the safety of Pakistan is in your hands. It is paramount for this that you fulfil your responsibilities with honesty and uphold the rule of law’.
While praying at the grave of the founder, I felt as if the Quaid was asking whether I would be ready to give any sacrifice if needed for establishing rule of law in Pakistan? And whether I would fulfil the responsibility of safeguarding the Nation?
I saluted again and said, “Yes sir I will do it”.
Standing there it seemed as if I am standing in front of the Quaid and he is taking account of the performance of my entire service. It reminded me of a few incidents and challenges. It had been a couple of months that I was appointed as young ASP when a very influential ‘Gaddi Nasheen’ was involved in an offence. Upholding the law was necessary. My boss (SSP of the District) was a disciple of the ‘Gaddi Nasheen Pir Sb’, therefore, the local police was reluctant to proceed against him. The local member of the assembly, who was also from the same family, came to me and threatened; “Don’t set a bad precedent by registering a case against the ‘Gaddi Nasheen’. This has not happened since 500 years”. Upon entering my office a glance at the portrait of the Quaid gave me the solution to the problem, ‘Rule of Law’. I myself had to go to the Police Station, and I guess this was the first time that a case was registered against the most important person of this family and the same was handled in accordance with law. My next posting was Bhalwal a large Sub-Division of Sargodha. I was investigating a murder case myself when the telephone rang in my office and it was the minister of interior at the other end who wanted to get two of the accused persons released. After the telephone conversation, I looked at the portrait of the Quaid again and found not only guidance but courage as well. The most influential minister kept insisting in a threatening tone for the release of the accused but God gave a junior ASP the resolve not to succumb to pressure and uphold the principles of justice.
As a police officer, my ranks and posts kept changing. Then I had to face bigger challenges. I was posted in a big city and the stars on my shoulders were replaced by a crescent. One of the opposition leaders was very outspoken and was a pain in the neck of the ruling party. However, he was quite popular in his constituency. A high level meeting was held a day before the Local Bodies election and police and administration were directed that he must not win the elections at any cost even if we have to take away the ballot boxes. During patrolling on the polling day, I noticed that his camp was filled with supporters and the ruling party candidate’s camp was deserted. The highest administrative officer of the district relayed a wireless message, with the orders to stop the polling as was directed in the meeting. As I rose from my chair, I remembered the guidelines of the Quaid, ‘impartiality at any cost’. I rushed to the constituency and saw that the polling was in progress in a peaceful manner. When the DSP and the magistrate tried to stop the polling, I put my foot down and told them firmly that polling would continue. Look! our job is the maintenance of peace and not otherwise and we should behave like neutral empires. At that moment my operator handed me a phone and the same administrative officer was on the line. He said, “You know… there are clear instructions from the top’ I had the courage to reply, “Sir I have instructions from a higher authority to remain impartial”. In utter surprise he asked whom I was talking about… “Sir the same authority to whom the top owes the govt and you and me owe our prestigious jobs. I mean the founder of the Nation” — the line was disconnected.
Then I was given the command of a big district. Two stars were added to the crescent on my shoulder. Some influential people of the city, who were involved in land grabbing, incidentally dispossessed a widow of her house. When I reached my office after hearing of the incident in a newspaper, I could not look at the eyes of the Quaid. I thought that the Quaid would certainly be asking, ‘what kind of a protector or Mohafiz you are? If you cannot provide protection to a poor widow of my country then you do not deserve to wear this uniform and you should go for some other job’. I gave instructions to the SHO and the DSP but they were helpless as the land mafia was associated with a minister who was responsible for their postings and transfers. I could not sleep the whole night with the feeling that Baba was unhappy with me. Early next morning I went to the place took over the possession of the house and handed it over to the widow and also arrested the ruffians. I came back to the office and saluted the Quaid. I felt as if the Quaid was very happy.
Command, and the badges on the shoulders increased and now I was commanding a Division.
The then dictator in a bid to get rid of a resistant judiciary arrested the judges of the Supreme Court and by doing so threw our country back to sixteenth century. After hearing the tragic news as I entered the office of DIG Kohat in a broken heart, I faced the ‘Quaid’ again and he also seemed extremely perturbed. I was struck with grief. After a while when I raised my head the directions of the Quaid were running through my head like news tickers, “only the lawful orders be obeyed”. I had received my guidelines. The district commanders were in my office the next day for directions, “Sir! We have received instructions from the government for the arrest of certain lawyers and journalists, what are your orders?” I replied, “Rule of Law and not law of the rulers shall be implemented, innocent people will not be arrested and unlawful orders will not be followed”. Despite orders of the regime, no lawyer or journalist was arrested in Kohat Division. A few days later, office-bearers of the bar and media came to my office and asked on whose orders the detentions were held back while people were detained in the whole country? I replied, “On the orders of the Founder of the Nation who has given us the gift of independence”.
My next destination was the largest province of the country and the command of its largest division. After two years I was confronted with the toughest test. By-elections were being contested. The most powerful bigwigs of the ruling party were adamant to win the elections at all costs. They clearly told me that “they could not afford to lose the elections because that would damage the government”. I told them that “if they use unfair means, that would damage govt’s credibility”. A minister’s camp insisted on the unlawful use of police, which was not allowed. When insistence or pressure increased, I clearly told the minister, “I may be replaced by some other officer. But if I am here, I would follow not your desires, but the orders of the Quaid, because of whose blessings you are a minister and I am a DIG. As per directions of the Quaid-i-Azam, police will remain impartial and non partisan”. Election results were not allowed to be changed so the DIG was changed. Some police officers expressed apprehensions that the Police Department would suffer due to change of command. I told them that “if I had become part of this rigging and not taken action against it, I would have fallen from grace in my own eyes and I would never have considered myself worthy of this uniform”.
My heart was content, I did not have any burden of shame to face the Quaid.
Praying at the grave of the Quaid, I took the oath, ‘Oh great benefactor of millions of Muslims of the sub-continent! Keeping your soul as witness, I vow not to let any blemish come on this uniform. If required, I will not only sacrifice this job but my life to implement the rule of law in your Pakistan’. Then I prayed to God Almighty, “O Lord of the lords! take away this sacred uniform from me if any of my actions or decisions are based on my personal interests rather than justice and rule of law; and bring upon me public humiliation, if any of my actions is against the interests of Pakistan. O! Creator of the worlds, protect my country and keep it prosperous till the Day of Judgment.” When I returned from the mausoleum I felt relieved.
Profile – Inspector General, National Highways & Motorway Police, Zulfiqar Ahmad Cheema, PSP, TI
Mr. Zulfiqar Ahmad Cheema has a vast experience in the field of Law enforcement and training. Mr. Cheema was educated from Cadet College Hassanabdal , Govt. College Lahore & Punjab University Law College Lahore. He served as ASP at Pakpattan , Muzaffargarh & Bhalwal. After promotion he served as Superintendent of Police, Rawalpindi and SP city Lahore. Then he was posted as SSP Rahim Yar Khan. He also served as District Officer, Frontier Constabulary, Shabkader.
In 1997-98 he served as Police Chief of Lahore. He also served as Personal Staff Officer to the Prime Minister of Pakistan. He also served as Course Commander and Director Training in the National Police Academy, Islamabad.
After promotion he served as Deputy Inspector General of Police, Dera Ismail Khan, Abbotabad & Kohat and as Regional Police Officer Gujranwala & Sheikhupura. After promotion to Grade 21, he was posted as Director General Immigration and Passports. In June 2013, he assumed the Command of National Highways & Motorway Police.