When Lahoris read these lines, the last rites to bury Lonsdale Robert Niblett are being performed concurrently in USA. Born on April 4, 1926, he died June 12 2019; thus ended an epoch spanning 93 years of which four decades were devoted to patrolling Lahore and seven years to educating boys. Brushes with law on the streets of Lahore seldom went unnoticed. More than being feared, he commanded respect even from the worst and nastiest criminals. He was a classical Fair, Firm and Friendly policeman in romantic love with his uniform. Every moment was his call of duty. Lahoris had a belief that as long as Niblett was around, they were safe. He was and remains Lahore’s legendary Kotwal (watchman).

Shahlmi, Bhatti, Lohari, Chuburji and Tollington market are the static landmarks of Lahore. If ever there was a moving and dynamic one, it was Lonsdale Robert Niblett. And that’s what kept Lahoris safe and happy. No Lahori of the 50s to 80s can ever forget this conscientious, diligent and ever present policeman. He took pleasure in chasing pillion riders breaking the law. He always caught and punished them even if they happened to be his own sons Larry or Dale. During dispersal hours, college girls in Lahore felt safe because they knew Uncle Niblett would rough up the ruffians or the chowkraboys as he called them. I am an eyewitness to the diligence of this police officer riding a Harley Davidson as a sergeant to DIG Traffic Lahore. I, my friends (including his sons) have the privilege of enduring the best of the policeman and the uncle. His hand of law was firm and his fatherly spirit adorable. 

He was in Lahore in November 2017, fit and energetic as ever with his son Larry Niblett. We organised a dinner in his honour. Perhaps he knew it was his last trip to Pakistan and he kept pouring out his memories to minutest detail.

Even in his nineties, he could recall each incident in detail. He recognized faces. He took me aside and reminded me that he had apprehended me and his son Dale outside Rex Cinema in Lahore in 1970. We had bunked from the hostel of St. Anthony’s to watch Raquel Welch’s One Million Years B.C. Dale’s Augusta motorbike was confiscated. He hugged and kissed me for making it through life. I saw the true expressions of happiness and satisfaction on the face of a fading gentleman for the harvest he oversaw.

The senior Nibletts were an Australian couple who came to India during the recession of 30s. Lonsdale Robert Niblett was born in April 1926 in Lucknow India. He joined the Royal Indian Air Force in 1942, but as part of essential services was transferred to police in 1944. He was in Amritsar during the riots of 1947 and volunteered to join his family in Lahore Pakistan only to know that his family had migrated to India. ‘So be it’ and Niblett devoted his life from 1947 to 1995 to serve Pakistan in police and education. Thereafter, he joined his son Larry in USA but kept returning to the country of his choice. 

He began his career as a Traffic Police Sargent distinct by riding his 3 wheeler Harley Davidson motorcycle. Chasing lawbreakers, he was often seen taking hairpin turns on two wheels. Majid Sheikh, one of our school mates recalls that his son Larry indulged in an illegality. The DIG was like a man gone mad. He personally arrested his own son, sent him on a three-day remand, ordered that he be given the terrible “channa and one roti” diet as stipulated by law, then appeared before the judge and testified against his son and sent him to jail. Even the judge requested him to soften up. “No way my lord; the son of DIG Niblett would not have the easy way out”. This glorious police officer saw to it that his name was not soiled. “If I had my way, I would lock him up and throw the keys away”, he would say when reminded of the incident. But Larry was his father’s son. He more than made amends, spent his time and apologised to his father”.

In 1969, during anti Ayub riots, he stood alone at the gates of governor house Lahore firing in the air and dispersing big mob threatening to ransack the building. The same day he rescued my brother Justin who was returning from the Government College Gymnasium and had been beaten, mauled and arrested by police. 

He was a dare devil and personification of the police motto ‘No Fear’. As additional SP Lahore he went with his driver to the fortress like house of a ‘criminal most wanted’, Shahia Badmash and arrested his two sons. Later he made sure that the boys were not falsely implicated and returned them safely home. Yes he is the same legendary character of the Badmash (Sheeda, Bashira etc) films of 70s and 80s. 

In 1976, he was promoted to DIG Lahore and served meritoriously till his retirement in 1988. Then he was picked up by Governor Punjab to be amongst the founders of Chand Bagh School Muridke. In 1995, he left for USA. 

DIG Lonsdale Robert Niblett and his genre of Eurasian/Anglo Pakistanis represent a free floating spirit of a lively, colourful and inclusive Lahore. 

Burt Institute and Griffen Hall provided plenty of places for good entertainment. This is where the English speaking community had its Saturday night balls and galas. Imagine young girls dressed in skirts and frocks moving around on Tongas for a dance party? Victoria Park at Beadon Road and Garhi Shahu were the living areas of the Pakistani English speaking community. These Goans and Anglo Pakistanis were mostly employed in the Accountant Generals’ office, railways, police and schools. They brought a diversity and style to the city. They ran the accounts, railways and police with ruthless efficiency. They also provided some of the best Pakistani sportsmen, soldiers, airmen and sailors. It was a generation known for strict work ethics, diligence, discipline and fun unfortunately lost to Bhutto’s nationalisation and Zia ul Haq’s policies.

They were Pakistan’s building blocks and must not be forgotten. Most have migrated but some still live in Pakistan. Through inter-marriages, they have merged with the local culture. But definitely they were an asset and the government of Pakistan must arrange their reunion in embassies abroad and in Pakistan.