The suicide bomber struck when I had just crossed that busy traffic signal on that August afternoon. My car struck the pavement and was still swirling when I got out and ran towards the target of attack who had stopped at the traffic signal. The driver of the targeted car was standing outside, bleeding and screaming. Two dead bodies and several injured pedestrians were lying on the sidewalk while his car was in flames. I had seen him in the front passenger seat and rushed towards it. The suicide bomber was directed right into the target and all I could see were his bright white sneakers which had also now been turned crimson. For the last six years, I have often thought what difference a few minutes can make.

A few minutes ago on August 4, 2010, he was head of the Frontier Constabulary, one of the premier civil armed forces of the country. A few minutes ago, he was giving final touches to the ongoing operation against Taliban terrorists in the Peshawar valley, an operation he launched with vigour and determination to get rid of the menace once and for all and secure his city and his province. A few minutes ago he was a doting father who did not want to miss a tennis game with his kids. He was my mentor to whom I had gone for farewell before leaving for studies abroad. He was Safwat Ghayyur.

Safwat literally means ‘finest or best’ and he lived and died as the best. To say that Safwat Ghayyur was no ordinary man would be an understatement endorsed by thousands of troops he commanded and millions of citizens he served proudly and fearlessly. To say that the spirit of sacrifice and duty ran into the family would also be an understatement. Safwat’s father remained Pakistan’s ambassador and his father’s brother was Sardar Abdul Rab Nishtar, one of the staunchest companions of Quaid-e-Azam, who was a symbol of honesty and integrity even as a governor. General Abdul Waheed was also his cousin as was former governor Owais Ghani. He however chose Police Service of Pakistan as not only his career as well as his passion.

Policing in Pakistan is a tricky affair even at the best of times. The nature of responsibilities involves affecting people adversely and the public one serves mostly remain dissatisfied. Safwat Ghayyur however, was the one of the very few exceptions, if not the only one. The cliché of ‘leading from front’ was never felt dull when describing his leadership and his subordinates would always be ready rather, eager to jump into deadly pitched battles on his command. The citizenry adored him equally and his is the only face consistently visible still on banners and hoardings in Peshawar. Every Moaharram, the mourners reminisce the image of a gun slung on one shoulder and dashing from one dark alley to other chasing the targets. Not many still do not know that he lost active movement of one arm and almost his life in an earlier live encounter with criminals. He was not supposed to be there but still he got in after hearing about the continuous firing exchange between the police and criminals.

He was equally fearless and fearsome towards the terrorists without any second thought. I still remember his prophetic words that these terrorists who are bombing school buildings in the night will one day kill our children in the daylight. The group that targeted APS was the same against which Safwat Ghayyur had launched a daring operation and uprooted them from Peshawar suburbs while eliminating their core. They would have been eliminated completely if he had got chance to live. But they struck back using a suicide bomber knowing that Safwat abhor security escorts and bullet proof vehicles. He always said the security measures should be for the Jawans involved in direct fighting and not for commanders and never budged no matter how much we insisted on taking precautionary measures.

Ms Tehmina Janjua , Pakistan diplomat, former spokesperson and his colleague wrote in Dawn on his death that his martyrdom is a message that with courageous people like who have such faith in country, we shall never succumb. We have covered huge ground in overcoming the challenge of terrorism with sacrifices from Safwat Ghayyur and many others and I am reminded of the words of Whitman,

O Captain! my Captain! our

fearful trip is done,

The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won,

But O heart! Heart ! Heart ! O the bleeding drops of red,

Where on the deck my Captain lies, Fallen cold and dead.