A disturbing incident has been making the rounds on social media, though it has not been portrayed as a major issue in mainstream media, is that of a Motorway Police officer being thrashed by a young man in civil dress who belonged to the Pakistan Army. The Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa police registered an FIR against these Pakistan Army officials who allegedly became hostile and beat four officials of the National Highway and Motorway Police (NHMP) on the Grand Trunk Road, over being issued a ticket for reckless driving.

Though the ISPR has called it a “scuffle” that is being investigated, reports claim that one of the drivers, later identified as an army officer, also pointed his pistol at motorway officers. Additionally, one of the drivers made a telephone call and more army personnel reached proceeding to assault the officers with batons. Even if the reports of the assault were exaggerated, or misreported, by all accounts it seems that the Motorway Police was just doing its job. There is no excuse for violence against state officials, and that is a lesson that has to be learnt by all citizens, not just civilians.

Its is hard to argue that the mob that ended up thrashing the motorway police is not representative of the Pakistan Army, when their whole logic of order is based on unity, disciplined, respect for rules and pride in service. Unless a soldier stops being a soldier when he is in plain clothes, there is no vindication for these men and the institution must take swift action, as well as be open to court proceedings against the officers.

This superiority complex, that makes men think they are better than officials that may reprimand them, is a class issue. This sentiment permeates the military ranks, just as it does other professions, institutions and social classes. However, the Pakistan Army is a national role model, and its personnel will always we be held to a higher standard in the eyes of the public. This is the reason why many watching and sharing the news on social media were so shocked and dismayed.

This reality check is important for the military to be pressured into eliminating all the ills compromising its integrity. Allegedly there is corruption in its ranks, though no one likes to talk about it or point it out, considering, that even then, it is the most orderly and well functioning national institution. Yet, in the eyes of the law, good behaviour in one area does not cancel out the bad in another, and this is what the army has yet to learn. Their are mortals, just like the rest of us, and anyone accused of a crime must have their day in court.