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‘Piece of shit’ is all it took a woman to demean and disrespect a Rawalpindi constable, Muhammad Shahbaz. During Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf’s (PTI) ‘Azadi March’ in Islamabad, a woman wearing a black burqa repeatedly abused and shouted at a police officer for doing his job. The video went viral on social media. Though Shahbaz earned a lot of praise for showing restraint and resolve in the face of abuses hurled at him, the fact remains: why did he have to go through all this? What was the lady trying to prove? What entitled the woman to abuse the officer who was performing the very job he was assigned to do. Imagine if the police officer retaliated and did something in return. But instead of responding to the PTI supporter, the policeman in a rare display of decency and patience ignored the woman and continued walking silently along the road. Later it came to light that the enraged woman was reportedly setting fire to the trees with her companions and lost cool when she was stopped by the policeman and vented her anger on the constable in Islamabad at the time of Azadi March.

What we witnessed on May 25 is condemnable, especially the brutal crackdown by the government on PTI leadership by using the police. The ruckus created by the government, police, and PTI supporters needs to be addressed. But why should we only blame the police for all of it? They were following orders. The government is responsible for ordering them to unleash police brutality on PTI leadership and supporters. Having said that, no one can deny that the police force is in dire need of reforms. It will take many Muhammad Shahbaz’s to show resolve in difficult and testing times. We can only hope that society learns for the better and gives credit to these officers who are out and about to protect their people. Indeed, being a police officer is a thankless job. I hope we learn to give the officers the respect and due credit they deserve.

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