How Safe Is Islamabad If A Judge Can Be Assaulted So Openly?

Constitution Avenue is a symbol of the federation in Islamabad. Lately, however, it seems that it has been taken over by hoodlums. In a recent incident, which was captured on camera and shared widely on social media, an SUV driver attacked an additional sessions judge in Islamabad. The judge had to open fire to save his life.

Reports now say that the two concerned parties have settled the matter out of court. However, this cannot simply be taken to be a matter between two parties. The assailant was none other than the husband of a sitting parliamentarian Abida Raja. If such crimes are committed by those who are closely tied to persons of influence, how can the common citizen be assured of his/her safety? If judges can be attacked like this, can anyone be said to be safe at all?

It is said that the entire episode was the result of a minor incident, in which the judge expressed his annoyance with the SUV driver over his driving. One wonders at the arrogance of the latter for him to react by attacking the judge like this.

There is serious skepticism going around in the air about the status of Islamabad being the safe city that it is touted to be. Lately, there have been several other instances of violent crime in the federal capital. A few days ago, a woman motorcyclist was molested in public in a posh sector. Armed robberies are taking place as a routine. (In this scenario, one can hardly help wondering about a car parked on the road remaining untouched while its owner took a trip to the Northern areas for four days.)

As for Constitution Avenue, it holds all those offices that are of primary importance for the public. Yet, ironically, the public does not have access to this avenue. You will see only a few motorcycles and no taxi on this road. People have to justify the purpose of their visit to this road to the police personnel who guard all entry points and the police have their own justifications for their conduct.

There is always a heavy presence of para-military forces in the area close to the fuel station where the judge was attacked. The fuel station guards were also standing there when the incident took place. However, no one intervened until both the parties had fought it out.

Such a demonstration of violence is not insignificant. The incident could easily have escalated beyond the point that it did. Had the judge not been carrying a gun to defend himself, who knows to what extent his assailants would have carried the assault. One does wonder if the residents of Islamabad should now begin to carry weapons with them to protect themselves from miscreants in the federal capital of the country?

Hassan Shahzad teaches media at public and private universities and regularly writes for Islamabad pages of The News. He holds a PhD in media studies.