savior in the storm

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PUBLISHED March 27, 2022

PESHAWAR:

In the mainstream patriarchal culture, Samina Zafar, a Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police officer is the first female officer who later oversaw the snow operation in Galiyat, Abbottabad, which made her the first female to lead the region during the winter season.

When you think of the police you imagine a man in your imagination who is the savior of protecting our lives at the cost of his own life but it was a bit different when despite himself dressed in black pants with a blue nameplate dark on her sweater I found Samina coordinates with all-male line departments during the first snowfall of the season to ensure timely clearing of main roads and for traffic management.

Samina, born on December 25, 1975, hails from a lower middle class family in Haripur district. Unexpectedly, she joined the police service in 1996 and was for 26 years in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police where she participated in several operations and solved many complicated cases. She rose through the ranks of the police while maintaining several key positions as a crime preventer, investigator, administrator and overseeing security in a women’s protection cell.

Prior to joining Abbottabad Traffic Police in August, she served as Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Administration Police Training School Mansehra. She also oversaw the elite provincial Hazara force as acting commander in 2018. These roles helped hone Samina’s skills and kept her knowledgeable about different aspects of policing.

An interesting interaction with Samina happened by chance a few days before when I was visiting Galiyat to drop off a story. She was smiling and her confidence was almost contagious.

On why she joined the police, Samina said, “I believe a woman is completely safe in uniform. When a woman comes in uniform, you get a different kind of feeling. My parents always taught me the lesson of fighting fears to muster my courage for my next challenges. That’s why I decided to join the police.

Sameena recalls her duties at the Women’s Police Stations and District Complaints Cells in Abbottabad and Haripur where she had to be on duty 24 hours a day. especially the women who come to us, leave with the feeling of having been served,” she said.

In Abbottabad, she rose to fame by rescuing an injured person on the day of the birth of the Holy Prophet PBUH when violence erupted during processions in Havellian in October 2021. On social media platforms, people hailed her for her service, calling the hero a “lady heroine in a black uniform”.

In a country where policing is a notorious profession, Samina takes the initiative to challenge established practices and perceptions. At the risk of her life, she set a wonderful example of selflessness and bravery, truly showing the world how devoted a follower of Islam should be. Not only did she rescue the wounded, but she and her team held their positions and continued to push back until the rioters finally left.

“I was doing my duty and was busy rescuing injured people when someone filmed me and made me famous as a pawri girl,” smiled Samina, referring to 19-year-old Dananeer Mobeen, who became famous after sharing his video on his social network. media account.

Soon she became a popular figure in Abbottabad, she was tasked with traffic management during the winter season in Galiyat. She broke the glass ceiling by being the first female officer to work through the night during January’s unprecedented snowstorm and as a result, no casualties were reported in Galiyat. The tireless efforts, vigilance and devotion to duty of Samina Zafar, the Deputy Superintendent of Police, were praised by the police officers and the public.

When asked to elucidate the January 8 snowstorm, she said, Galiyat, due to its high altitude, was exposed to extreme weather conditions in winter spanning about 4 months from December to March. Low temperature, fog, snowfall, landslides, avalanches and the resulting blockage of roads leading to inaccessibility of areas are some of the common characteristics.

The unprecedented snowfall had already been predicted by the Pakistan Metrological Department (PMD) and the Provincial Disaster Management Authority, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (PDMA-KP) had issued an alert to the affected districts to adopt measures to prevent fatal incidents. “We started the winter emergency planning process from November involving all stakeholders,” she said.

Abbottabad Traffic Police had drawn up a comprehensive plan following the District Disaster Management Authority (DDMA) as they had previously finalized a winter contingency plan ahead of the upcoming snowfall which had been predicted in hilly areas from Monday 03 January to 08 January. They conducted joint meetings with representatives of all sister departments during which a joint action plan was presented with detailed mechanisms to ensure snow clearing and smooth traffic flow in Galiyat. Samina was tasked with supervising snow clearing operations while remaining on the ground with her counterparts from the district administration, security police and Galiyat Development Authority to prevent any tragedy.

About two days before the snowstorm, she organized a training session in Nathia Galli to sensitize field staff during which administrative staff, first aiders, GDA staff, police staff from the security wings and traffic attended the debate. Line managers provided them with guidance on required mitigation measures and on implementing a coordinated response to minimize loss of life and property in the event of a disaster.

In accordance with the security plan, throughout the season, police checkpoints at the entry and exit points of Galiyat have been established with an additional deployment of police officers. Snow clearing machines have also been made operational.

Samina, in her initial assignment, had to deal with the chain mafia who in the past looted tourists by providing them with chains for the tires of their vehicles and charging a high amount as they had no money. no choice but to pay them. She said, “With the help of Additional Assistant Commissioner Ameen ul Hassan, I took strong action against them as they charged more for the chains.”

While describing the January snowstorm, she said the snowfall started in Galiyat on Monday evening and continued at regular intervals and thousands of visitors thronged to Galiyat to enjoy the snow. At that time, additional guards were deployed at different locations to guide tourists and advise them not to park cars on the road to take selfies and photos as it caused traffic jams on the main road.

On Friday evening, the snowstorm and high winds had uprooted trees that had fallen from the roads. Not only the felling of trees, but also an unprecedented snowstorm and avalanches became the reason for traffic jams. Most tourists left the area in time, but many who were thrilled to see snowfall weren’t ready to leave. They were seen taking selfies and photos along the road as the large number of illegally parked vehicles on the roads further reduced the space available for the machinery to move which ultimately hampered the smooth flow of the circulation.

“My team and I managed to reach the affected site to ensure that every tourist was safe. Although heavy snow made it impossible to walk on foot, with the help of locals and hoteliers in Galiyat, we prevented most of the tourists, including women and children, from being trapped by the tragic snowstorm.” She explains.

All were evacuated and moved to nearby hotels, masjids and houses where they gave them food and provided a place to sleep for the survivors. The rescue operation was completed before dawn and no untoward accidents occurred in the area where five feet of snow fell that day.

The evacuated tourists not only thanked Samina for her dedicated efforts, but were amazed by the hospitality and friendly demeanor of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa residents and police.

Samina called it a team effort and said, “Without a doubt, it was a collective responsibility that was executed appropriately. The performance of the police, the emergency services, the GDA, the administration and the other services concerned remained up to par. The situation remained under control thanks to the effective measures taken by them”.

Meanwhile, Sarmad Faraz Abbasi, a local who is a barrister at the High Court in Peshawar, praised Samina’s swift action, saying that due to the seriousness of Mrs. Samina Galiyat remained safe for tourists. , unlike Murree, no such casualties have been reported in Galiyat nor any instances of profiteering. or the chain mafia has been heard. Although the tourists remained stranded, but until the roads became accessible, they were treated as guests in Galiyat.

As tourists, officers and people from all walks of life paid tribute to Samina who acted professionally by staying on the roads all night whom they said will be forever remembered.

Amna Sardar, a former lawmaker from Galiyat, praised the role of Samina Zafar. “Samina is a lion-hearted officer who has previously been credited with spearheading women’s service in the valiant Elite Force – a department trained in counter-terrorism, guerrilla warfare and martial arts,” a- she points out.

Amna is of the view that this is the first time in Galiyat that a female police officer has led the field staff of the enforcement departments, including rescue, police and the Galiyat Development Authority, which has expertly commanded rescue operations during crises until the last tourist was rescued.

“Samina has made us proud. The way she reacted to the calamity is a testament to her vigilance, professionalism and passion. This is what we expect of our officers,” remarked Mirvais Niaz, Deputy Inspector General of the Hazara Police, while presenting him with a certificate of merit for his outstanding performance.

Shabnam Nawaz is a Supreme Court lawyer who felt it was a general perception that only men could join the forces so they could do hard field work, but Samina had proven that women could serve better than men in forces. She is surprised that the government did not reward her for her professionalism. She urged the concerned authorities to recognize the services of such unsung heroes of the Police like DSP Samina Zafar to boost the morale of women in strength.

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