Terrorism spares none, whether one is in uniform or in civilian attire. After the vulnerability of civilians comes the susceptibility of the uniform force not meant for fighting wars but for maintaining law and order. This is how the police become the prime target of terrorists especially in the urban cities of Pakistan, as has been witnessed recently.

The police are ready to lay down their lives in the line of duty, but the other side of the fact is that precious lives are lost. Precious in the sense that an experienced police officer has to surrender his life without offering any resistance to a suicide bomber. The physical body of a police officer is not structured to resist the force of a blast. That is it. An anti-blast outfit is insufficient, especially in protecting the head, and it cannot be worn all the time. This is how the counter-terrorism challenge has taken over Pakistan, devouring the lives of many brilliant police officers of the Police Service of Pakistan. Just to name a few; Safwat Ghayur, Fayyaz Ahmed Sumbal, Ahmad Mobin and Zahid Gondal.

Such a loss is poignant and distressing for the loved ones: Children who will never feel the warmth of their father’s hug again, mothers who will mourn and agonise every coming day, and wives who will sit across empty dinner tables for the rest of their lives. Those who have left us for their heavenly abodes are heroes by every standard. In fact, every citizen owes them immeasurably and irreconcilably, for they sacrificed their today for our tomorrow. They had selected a perilous path, mindful of the consequences. Although martyrdom has its own reward, but even as a mundane measure, the martyrs are superior to us on many accounts.

First, they sacrifice their lives, the supreme and ultimate sacrifice one can possibly make. Life is beautiful, as known to us was known to them, despite all its adversities. Like us, the leftovers, they also knew the importance of self-preservation ingrained in human beings, thereby inviting all human activities from education to marriage. Overcoming this instinct, and perhaps desire, is an arduous task of unparalleled proportion. Continuing to exposing oneself to danger to protect the lives of citizens to discharge one’s official responsibilities cannot be paid in terms of medals, which are just a token of tribute to one’s sacrifice. The sacrifice demands more than medals.

Second, they are found perennially optimistic in the face of any imminent or palpable danger. They do not succumb to despair regardless of the hardest of challenges. Instead, they keep the flame of hope flickering and the ideas of life glowing. Both optimism and hope reinforce their motivation and augment their valour. They defeat fear every day, they leave their homes for the office and their offices for a field duty. They understand that they may not come back, but they persist with going and doing what needs to be done. They are not ready to submit themselves to any disillusionment about life and distrust about the future. They believe in getting going until they are no more around. They keep us alive and exultant by both their presence and absence.

Third, they set the bar high for others. They establish inspirational examples of gallantry and heroism for their successors, juniors and staff. They inspire their followers with their remarkable deeds and stories of their lives. The blood of valiant heroes infuses mettle and grit and, above all, dignity and pride into the police service. There are many unsung heroes who have adorned the police service with grace unfounded before. The juniors and staff fear if they could also ever be up to the standard of sacrifice.

Fourth, they believe firmly in the nobility of their cause – to maintain law and order. They cultivate a belief in the superiority of their aim – to serve the citizens, come what may. They are neither wavered nor confused. They are sensible and decisive. It is the unflinching faith and the exactness of their cause that keep their spirit alive even when the chips are down, and even when they know that their salaries (and recompense to their families after martyrdom) are not worth their sacrifice. They do not harbour any doubt nor any scepticism vis-à-vis the clarity of their purpose and the sublimity of their goal: Do your job.

Fifth, they rise above familial constraints. They prefer their job’s calling to their conjugal responsibilities. Love for family is natural and profound; it determines one’s choices of life and the way one transacts the outer world. However, the martyrs muffle the call of inner voices and brave the challenges of the outer world. Every day, they leave their elderly parents and innocent toddlers behind with a heavy heart, knowing the dangers embedded in their duties and waiting outside their homes.

Sixth, they militate against the odds. They believe that protecting the lives of others is more uplifting than shielding one’s own life. They are charged with the spirit of sacrifice and are mindful of the gravity of the situation. They possess strong nerves and their ability to face the danger is far greater than any other individual.

Seventh, they justify their raison d’etre. They believe that their lives are tied to a purpose, which is higher than themselves. They are a superior being because that are imbued with a desire for helping others; they are equipped with ideals of altruism, empathy and compassion. Their lives are directed by values and verbalised by principles, rather than it being driven aimlessly chasing whims and wishes. Their noble rationalism strengthens their spirit of sacrifice, which they never abate.

It is high time that everyone respected the police martyrs as immensely as they can, by standing by the families of the departed and by remembering them too often. Showing apathy to their families is tantamount to disregarding the sacrifices of the martyrs. It is heart-wrenching to find when those who have laid down their lives in the line of duty are reported by media as killed. They are martyrs, and every citizens of Pakistan must show them respect through their words and actions. Let us learn to show respect to police martyrs!