COAS lauds selfless devotion, professionalism of ASP Shehrbano

  • Acknowledges vital role Pakistani women are playing in all walks of life
  • Stresses importance of social harmony and necessity for a consensus on curbing intolerance

RAWALPINDI: Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Syed Asim Munir, NI (M), has lauded the selfless devotion to duty and professionalism of Assistant Superintendent of Police Syeda Shehrbano Naqvi in diffusing a volatile situation, Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

According to military’s media wing, the Army Chief was called on ASP Shehrbano at General Headquarters (GHQ) on Wednesday.

Speaking on the occasion, General Asim Munir said that the fearless officer extricated a woman from the difficult milieu of Ichra Bazaar in Lahore on 26 February 2024.

COAS acknowledged the vital role Pakistani women were playing in all walks of life. Since independence, Pakistani women have distinguished themselves at home and abroad, by virtue of their talent, tenacity and commitment. COAS highlighted that the women were an invaluable part of Pakistan’s society and their respect was enshrined in our religion as well as our social ethos.

The COAS took the opportunity to stress the importance of social harmony and the necessity for a nationwide consensus on curbing intolerance. He advocated for the rule of law and discouraged resorting to vigilantism when legal avenues exist for addressing concerns and grievances. “Arbitrary actions based on heresy undermine the societal outlook,” Gen Munir stated, reinforcing Islam’s eternal message of kindness and benevolence.

Expressing gratitude for the sacrifices made by law enforcement agencies, the army chief appreciated their efforts in ensuring the safety and security of Pakistani citizens.

ASP Shehr Bano Naqvi, who saved a young woman wearing a dress with Arabic calligraphy printed on it from a mob attack in Lahore, on Monday said that the incident took place due to “mere confusion” and “miscommunication”.

Talking to reporters, the police official refused to reveal the woman’s identity. She further stated that the calligraphy on the woman’s clothes did not bear Quranic verses.

“The word written [on the clothes] is doing the rounds on social media […] the meaning of the word is literally sincerity, love, goodness, life, humanity,” she said, adding that the dress belonged to a brand based in a foreign Muslim country.

To another question, ASP Shehr Bano said the entire incident began when a man in the locality went up to the woman — who was in the shop along with her husband — and told her to change her clothes.

“The woman asked why should she change and during that heated argument, considering it a religious matter, people started gathering.

“So, the situation unfolded because of mere confusion, miscommunication, lack of verification, and playing on mob psychology,” the official said.

A potentially calamitous situation was averted in Lahore thanks to the resolute intervention of a policewoman from the Punjab Police.

Newly-elected Punjab Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz Sharif honoured Shehr Bano, recognising her exceptional courage and astuteness.

Maryam emphasised that the policewoman’s timely intervention averted a potential tragedy, underscoring the critical importance of her actions.

Expressing gratitude to ASP Shehr Bano, Maryam remarked, “We take immense pride in your valour.”

Despite facing intense pressure and challenging circumstances, the CM-elect said that Shehr Bano upheld the principles of justice and compassion, maintaining the dignity of law and humanity.

Meanwhile, in an interview with BBC, she recounted the intense moments outside a restaurant in Punjab’s capital. “Had I not screamed and had I not convinced the crowd that we will do something about it, it would have turned nastier… Thank God,” Gulberg Circle ASP Shehr Bano Naqvi remarked.

This courageous officer found herself at the forefront of a rapidly escalating confrontation when a misunderstanding led the crowd to accuse a woman of blasphemy. The woman’s dress had the word “Halwa” printed in Arabic letters on it, meaning “beautiful or sweet” in Arabic.

Displaying remarkable presence of mind and bravery, Shehr Bano swiftly took charge of the situation, preventing it from spiralling into tragedy.

Her decisive actions have garnered widespread praise, with the chief of Punjab Police Dr Usman Anwar advocating for her to be honoured with an award for her exemplary courage.

In the face of imminent danger, Shehr Bano’s steadfastness not only safeguarded the lives of those involved but also prevented potential chaos and violence.

“It was a critical moment. I had to act swiftly to ensure the safety of the woman and prevent any harm from coming to her,” Shehr Bano stated, emphasising the urgency of the situation.

The policewoman, along with her colleagues, managed to escort the woman to safety amidst the growing crowd. Videos circulated on social media depict the tense atmosphere, with Shehr Bano seen negotiating with the crowd, trying to restore order amidst chants for the woman to remove her attire.

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