In a display of utter disregard for civil rights and liberties by security agencies, the home of Resident Editor, The Nation and New York Times Correspondent, Salman Masood’s house was raided by the Rangers in Islamabad in the early hours of Tuesday. They claimed that a search was being undertaken in the area to find a terrorist suspect, however no other house in the area was searched. They insisted on entering the premises without a warrant and without identifying themselves.

The only way law enforcement agencies can conduct a search without a warrant is by using the Anti-Terrorism Act, and that too only when they have reasonable doubt that an act of terrorism was or is about to be carried out. And unless the Rangers are claiming that this was the case with reference to Salman Masood, they had no business showing up at his doorstep. While inside, even though the search was supposedly for an individual, no cabinet or drawer was left unopened in their search for this seemingly elusive suspect.

The Interior Minister, Chaudhary Nisar has taken notice of the incident, and has termed raids such as this both unreasonable and unacceptable. However, if the Interior Ministry had no prior knowledge of the raid, one can only wonder who sanctioned this move. It is no secret that intelligence agencies often track and tap communication lines of notable civil society activists and journalists in their bid to keep the country ‘secure’, so it is naïve to assume that they did not know who lived at the house before the raid was conducted.

The average individual in this country is too used to the idea of the state picking and choosing which rights and liberties to uphold or curtail based on whim alone. Questioning whether the law is being followed is often seen as an anti-state mindset. A uniform by itself is not a valid method of identification – given the amount of attacks orchestrated by terrorists in the uniforms of security agencies – it is not easy to trust a man in uniform at just face value. The fact remains that this is not about Salman Masood, that he is a journalist or even that his might have been the only house that was raided. One house or ten, there is a limit to the powers given to the state and its coercive arms. The Rangers should look to nab real terrorists, instead of rifling through the closets of journalists. Using force as a pressure tactic is something that the state is often guilty of, and flouting the very laws they are supposed to protect is why it is so hard to put one’s faith in the government, the police or the establishment.