Perhaps the most tragic yet valiant deaths among us are those who succumb to their demise in the line of duty and in pursuit of leaving this country better off. Dr Abdul Quddoos Shaikh, 38th Deputy Collector Customs, MCC Preventive Quetta, was one such person who has tragically joined the ranks of the shaheed, who are killed just for doing their jobs.

The lethal attack on Dr Abdul Quddoos Shaikh had occurred some days before. As part of the anti-smuggling team of Quetta, during one of his regular anti-smuggling operations, Shaikh, along with his team intercepted a truckload of tiles near Kolpur, Balochistan. The truck loaded with smuggled items was seized from the smugglers and was being escorted by Qudoos. Enraged with the forced takeover of the smuggled good, the smugglers crashed their vehicle into the official vehicle of the customs officer upon reaching Quetta’s Gahi Khan Chowk. Shaikh was then pulled out of his car and forcibly assaulted with submachine gun’s butt.

This violent attack occurred on July 6th. Three days later, after struggling for life in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the Combined Military Hospital in Quetta cantonment, Dr Shaikh succumbed to his fatal injuries and passed away yesterday. He leaves behind a widow, and three children.

This attack was cowardly and an assault on our state and security authorities. It indicates the often fatal risks and conditions that can come with employment in anti-smuggling and anti-drugs commissions and customs agencies. This is not the first time that a customs officer has been put in danger or not provided adequate protection- in 2015, Inspector Aijaz Chaudhry, the customs officer involved in the money laundering case against model Ayyaan Ali, had also been shot dead by unknown assailants in the Qasimabad area of Hyderabad. While his role in the investigation remains disputed, it cannot be clearer from that case, as well as this recent tragedy of Dr Shaikh, that our customs officers situated in high-risk areas are not being provided proper security mechanisms to deal with the smuggling, drugs and criminal threats that exist.

The only hopeful aspect of this story is that this incident is being taken more seriously than previous ones. Inspector General Police Balochistan Mohsin Butt requested formation of a committee for investigating the attack. The Customs Service and its Officers Association also condemned the attack and a country-wide crackdown on the smuggling activities was launched by enforcement units of the Pakistan Customs.