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VIEW: Keeping him alive -Gulmina Bilal Ahmad.

Pakistan, Aug. 13 -- The greatest medal that all of us can award Safwat, which would be true to his legacy, is to earnestly carry on the fight against extremism and terrorism. If truly the whole country feels his loss, then let us as a whole country keep him alive in our work against the terrorists

He has been called the "hero cop who died with his boots on", a brave, fearless police officer who would personally mourn every time a police picket was attacked. Personally picking up the bodies of shaheed police constables, he would vow revenge. Many of them he avenged too. Before him, nobody would bother to go to the house of a police personnel martyred. Safwat would not only go but would also pick up the shaheed's body himself. It was not surprising that people started calling him the handsome undertaker!

He has been eulogised for being fearless and for taking the Taliban head on. I might be wrong but I think he would have been amused by this description. The Taliban, for him were no worthy enemy. He would call them the "scum of the earth". He would often tell us that they have only created a hype around themselves of terror and Islam. During his many encounters with them, he would tell us that they did not have the courage to look into his eyes. When he caught the Ustaad-i-Fidayeen, i.e. the person who would train young children to be suicide bombers and fill them with anti-American sentiment, Safwat told him that if he was so convinced about his anti-Americanism and so-called jihad, he should put his money where his mouth was. Safwat made him put on a suicide jacket and told him that he would personally take him to the American Consulate. The bd peed in his pants and went down on his knees pleading for his life. This is the truth behind their so-called conviction and ideas. Scum of the earth; ants eating away all that is good and decent in society.

It has been a week to his martyrdom as I write these words. Thousands have poured out their affection for him personally, through articles, letters to the editor and blogs. There is even a Facebook page on him. I am amused because given his computer and internet browsing skills he would have been completely lost, not even capable of finding himself on Facebook! Such was his simplicity in these matters that he was once asked, "Chief! What is your Blackberry number?" Safwat's answer was, "What is a Blackberry?" His eyes would crinkle up as he laughed at his own "illiteracy" as he would call it.

Safwat was the kind of man that after a successful operation, the chief of army staff (COAS) called to congratulate him and asked him what reward he wanted. Safwat said, "I want my men to become entitled to the medical facilities at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH)." When people would praise him during his lifetime, he would innocently look at them as if wondering what in the world were they carrying on about. For him, this was all in a day's work. When his loved ones would tell him to be careful or when he would be advised not to charge on ahead, he would tell them this is what my work is. His excellent sense of humour and his strong sense of duty is what made him larger than life. As the CCPO when I would ask him what is going on, he would laugh and say, "By God I do not know. I am just running around." The day he took over as CCPO, Peshawar was shaken by a blast. Safwat declared to the media, "I am responsible." To the traders of Peshawar who had put up black banners all over the city blasting the government for its failure to provide them security, Safwat said: "Replace the word government on the banner with my name. I am responsible to provide you security. This is my failure."

For the past two years, his one thought was how to inflict maximum damage on the terrorists. In all the outpourings of affection, people have called for medals to be awarded to him. The little that I knew him, I have the feeling that he would not have liked to be awarded medals. The greatest medal that all of us can award him, which would be true to his legacy, is to earnestly carry on the fight against extremism and terrorism. If truly the whole country feels his loss, as declared in the numerous blog comments and articles, then let us as a whole country keep him alive in our work against the terrorists. Let us also stop mindlessly saying that this is not our war. It is. It has become so. For if our loved ones are being killed, then how is it not our war?

In addition to carrying on his work, he would have had another wish. Spelling his name correctly! His name was not Sifwat but Safwat. When it was time to name his children, he was adamant that the names should be simple and easily pronounceable. It is a pity that we could not even pronounce what he clearly was, i.e. 'Safwat' literally meaning 'the best of the group'. Rest in Peace, Safi Mama.

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Publication:Daily Times (Lahore, Pakistan)
Date:Aug 13, 2010
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