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CM Maryam and Police Uniform Controversy


Dr Lubna Zaheer

A few days ago, Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz Sharif attended the passing out parade of a batch of women police recruits at a police training college. She wore the police uniform on the occasion and in her address to the participants talked about police reforms and women’s empowerment. Leaving aside her speech, the matter of wearing the police uniform spread like a fire in the jungle. One school of thought appreciated the act but the other criticised it.

We as a nation have developed a culture of raising storms on any issue on everything and anything and the same happened in this case. Some people have plenty of time to make the police uniform an issue. One gentleman even filed a petition against Maryam Nawaz. I came across a recent statement of PTI leader Dr Yasmin Rashid who stated that wearing the police uniform is a crime and punishable by law so action should be taken against the chief minister. Realising the intensity, the Punjab police had to issue a statement, stating that the governor and the chief minister could wear the uniform under the Punjab Police Dress Regulations on special occasions like parades etc. Despite the clarification, the matter remained under discussion as if it were a national issue. The matter even reached the floor of the National Assembly where MNA Omer Ayub Khan, the grandson of Field Marshal and former president Ayub Khan, delivered a speech on the sanctity of the uniform. The speech gave the impression that if all the country’s problems have been solved and what is left the only matter of Maryam Nawaz’s uniform.

Being a mass communication professional, I think a female chief minister wearing the police uniform gave a symbolic expression of solidarity and commitment to the female police officers. Or take it as an expression of love and compassion or respect. Embellishing a uniform generally means showing pride or showing love for that uniform as our children wear military clothes to express their love for the army. In the same way, when our Punjabi politicians go to Sindh, they wear Sindhi traditional wearing. Same is the case with Balochistan or Gilgit-Baltistan. In the language of communication, the purpose of such gestures is to convey the message to the people or citizens or groups of people you are addressing that we are one of you and like you. Similarly, some foreign female guests also wear Pakistani shalwar qameez. All these are symbolic expressions of some kind. So Maryam’s police uniform should also be considered as this type of expression. But her opponents and critics followed her with sticks. I’m sure that this gesture of CM Maryam must have made the women police officers proud that the chief minister has also worn their uniform.


The perception of the police department in Pakistan is usually not good. In simple words, this institution has a negative impression. Complaints keep piling up about this department. There are also many stories of bribery of police officers, etc. Many of these complaints are certainly justified. Regardless of these complaints, the fact remains that the department shows its presence when the traffic system is functioning and we sleep soundly at night. For the past several years we have been facing the monster of terrorism. While fighting terrorists our soldiers are targeted and police personnel are also martyred every day. Yet we and our media rarely mention the sacrifices of police personnel. Just imagine how tough the duties of police officers are. Be it rain, storm, or scorching sun the cops stand alert on their duty. They are also seen getting lift from the motorists after duty hours. Their salaries and benefits are also limited. If the chief minister wears the police uniform to cheer or encourage these low-level officials, has she committed any sin?

How much respect do we give to the police uniform? I narrate an incident. A few years ago, one of my students joined the police force after completing her studies. When she came to meet me, she was wearing clad (burqa) and wearing a police uniform. I asked her how long she had been wearing clad. She said that the boys of her neighourhood used to tease her and call her ‘chillar’ so she started wearing clad over the uniform. Consider the wearing of the police uniform by the chief minister as part of an image-building campaign.

Now look at another aspect. The people, who are criticising the wearing of police uniform by the chief minister, are those who get their children’s Eid clothes like prisoners and show their pride by writing prisoner number 804 on the clothes. They also share pictures on social media by writing prisoner numbers on their shoes. The same critics, who are pretending to put their weight behind the same police uniform, had earlier abused the policemen during political protests, tore policemen uniforms, beat them, made them bleed and chanted slogans to hang police officers.
Those who injured 20 policemen on May 9 are also thinking about the honour of the police uniform today. The question is why didn’t they think about honouring the police uniform at that time? Spare this country, having a plethora of problems, for the sake of Allah Almighty and end the tradition of politicising everything.

Dr Lubna Zaheer

— The author is an academician and political analyst

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Lahore Mirror