Commander Razzak was failed by the state

It seems ‘Commander’ Abdul Razzak had it all figured out. Despite being stuck in a dead-end job for over two decades, he harboured no expectations from anyone. Having achieved only one promotion from Constable to Head Constable during a period of twenty three years of police service, it seemed he harboured no ill-will towards anyone either. He lived a simple life, according to his colleagues, and never married or had children, for he knew that he faced impending death every time he answered the call of duty, and how could he depend on the state to provide for his family when it had never been able to provide him despite having defused over five hundred bombs during service? And therein lay the man’s genius. He had it all figured out.

One wonders what compelled the man in this day and age to risk his life day in, day out for so little reward. He didn’t do it for the adrenaline rush that much is for sure. Nor was he a misguided idealist hoping for a miraculous climb up the ladder to success. He was a man who started at the bottom rung and had only climbed one step in twenty three years. No, this was a man who had resigned himself to the worst long ago. Having defused five hundred bombs and survived, one might have excused him for thinking that he lived a charmed life, yet that does not seem to be the case. This seemed like a man who knew he’d meet his Maker sooner rather than later.

It seems only Commander Razzak has the answers to all those questions, and he takes them with him to the grave. But whatever his reasons, this was a man bound by honour and sense of duty to his cause. He may have little respect for the authorities and nobody can blame him for it, but it seems he adhered to a strict sense of responsibility that had been vested into him for the lives of so many people. Commander Razzak did it for the people. If he ever shirked duty or responsibility when called upon, not many people would blame him, for in this day and age dereliction of duty seems to be considered a virtue rather than a vice, for if it were punished, many things would be different today. No, the man was there day or night, rain or hail, sun or storm, for he knew any lapse on his part could result in lives of innocents being lost.

Those in power seem oblivious or unwilling of the need to exercise it to save innocent lives being lost time and again. They forget they took an oath to protect people’s lives and liberties. The state fails its citizens time and again. The people find themselves in a labyrinth they cannot get out of. The state leads them down paths promising deliverance and salvation but instead into dead-end alleys. They follow hook, line and sinker. Many perish into the darkness that awaits them in those dead ends.

While it is somewhat reassuring, in a twisted way, that there are men like ‘Commander’ still out there fighting the good fight, I find our inability to honour them during their lives hard to swallow. I find it infuriating that men like him are reduced to a mere statistic after their deaths. He deserved so much better. Pakistanis deserve so much better.

Commander Razzak was a man bigger and better than the state can ever be. He understood the responsibility that the power vested in him brought. He honoured the oath he had taken to protect his fellow citizens’ right to his final breath. Pakistan owes Commander Razzak an unrequitable debt. The people of Quetta owe their lives to him. That the state failed him is a damning indictment of the state’s duty to protect and provide for its citizens, to honour those on the frontlines of its ‘war against terrorism’. That it fails scores of other Pakistanis everyday only magnifies it several-fold.

That night when he and fellow policeman Abdul Majeed stepped in front of the bomb under Saryab Bridge, he was under no delusion. He knew the state had failed him. He knew there was no light at the end of the tunnel. And he knew there is no death more honourable than the one attained in the line of duty. I wish Commander Razzak were still alive. I’d have loved to learn a thing or two about life from him. He had it all figured out.

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