Security – to have or not to have?
Living in Pakistan has thus far been ok. We have had no issues with security, no mis-adventures or anything to really write home about. Whether this is luck or simply a state of reality is a bit hard to say. Things happen, as we saw recently with the Lahore bombing, issues in Peshawar and the increased crime wave in and around Karachi. As I have indicated in previous posts, guns are everywhere. Whether it be an armed guard outside the local coffee shop, bank, business or riding next to you on a motorbike, they are everywhere and you do start becoming a bit complaisant towards seeing them.
One of the first pieces of advice was to get a guard. For daily travel, for home, for pretty much 24/7 coverage. We resisted. It wasn’t from a sense of bravado or anything like that, but more do we need it. It also would create some logistical challenges. How could we drive anywhere with a driver, a gunman in the front and 4 of us in the car…the math didn’t add up!
After some time, and given the fact that I am often away, I did surrender to the fact that it isn’t a bad idea. I got a guard for our house overnight while I was away for security, but more so for peace of mind for the family when I was away. This was a temporary fix, which has turned into a regular 7 day a week thing, so each night we have our ‘gunman’ stay overnight patrolling the house and ‘keeping us safe’.
This may be the objective, but when you see many of the security guys, you do have to question how much of a deterrent it is, versus an actual effective resource. Many are old, or the complete opposite and look like they are about 15 years old. The guns look old and non functional, and many times you find them asleep on duty. I don’t know how confident of them coming to anyones rescue in time of need!
These guys are lowly paid…about 13,000 Rupees per month (about AUD$150) so they surely aren’t going to ‘take one for the team’ for that money?
Our guy is at least partially fitting in the role, he looks a bit intimidating, if not a man giant, but he turns up, in uniform and patrols the roof at night. He locks the door after I leave him each night following my rooftop shisha session, and e has just got a new gun. But it hasn’t always been like that.
He initially had a really old-looking gun, and about 5 bullets with him. I found he was leaving the gun upstairs in an unlocked room when he finished duty (since fixed), and then I found out his gun didn’t actually work for about 3 weeks, so I am not sure what the point was!
He got a new gun, and some bullets, so then as you do, I came home from a trip to find an empty shell on the roof and he told me he had fired off a ‘practice’ shot the night before! Again, as you do!
So far I have still resisted advise to have 24/7 gunman with me. Others do, and have in my company, but after seeing real life what a couple of serious gunmen did when they escorted us around Islamabad, I am not sure it is a good idea. They would jump out of the car if we stopped and stand around the car, they got out and approached cars taking too long at tolls, and even stopped traffic with their machine guns while we reversed back if we missed a turn. Now I may be ignorant, but to me a car with 2 or so machine gun clad men running around it can only draw attention, saying there is someone important inside = target!
Therefore currently the jury is still out as to do I or don’t I go the whole way. So far I am happy with my man overnight, and is good to know when away, but would it really make much difference if you had one with you 24/7 and something ‘went down’? I really don’t know!
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