I can remember the sequence of events so vividly like it was yesterday. It was a Tuesday evening in the month of April. I had just gotten nikkafied the day before, and I was ecstatic. Since I was leaving to go back to the United States in a few days, my family has this tradition of all of the cousins getting together and going out to eat after a wedding. It was time to celebrate our nikkah.
I had to convince my parents it was a good idea, first.
My husband made his way from Faisalabad, and we all met up at the Emporium Mall in Lahore. Upon arriving, we soon realized our group was way too big to stay together for a long period of time, so naturally, the couples separated and went to do their own thing. We were the fresh, new couple and of course, wanted our private time as well.
Our first stop was the food court, which ended up not being the best idea since the conversation was bland and boring with everyone around.
The mall was not the best idea to hang out together for the first time with people giving us weird looks. Let me remind you, at this point – no PDA involved. We did not even touch hands, let alone show any form of affection. I suggested going somewhere else outside of the mall to grab a bite to eat. This way we could talk on the ride there and be in a more private setting eating at a restaurant.
Not keeping in mind my husband was not a Lahore native, we ended up driving in circles around the mall.
Talking and holding hands in the car was more than enough to fill me up, there was no need to go out and eat anymore. Over an hour passed by us going in circles and making sure we did not take the wrong turn and get lost.
Being the anjaan foreigner that I am, I asked him to pull the car to the side so we could just sit and talk. Making sure we made the right turns was getting a little stressful for the both of us. He hesitated at first, but nonetheless pulled the car over to the side of the road on an empty street. Little did I know why he had hesitated in the first place.
Something happened half an hour into our conversation/kissing session. Our “PDA” was suddenly disrupted.
He turned the car on and began to speed. I was very confused and taken back. I began to wonder if I was a bad kisser, if he started to hate me already, etc. etc. Turns out a police car had flashed its lights at us, and my husband was trying to get away before they got too close.
Let me repeat, my husband is NOT a Lahore native.
So he took the wrong turn and now we were stuck with a police car right behind us demanding that we pull the car over to the side. He pulled over and was immediately dragged out by not one but five officers. Scared to my core, all I could do was watch from the rear-view mirror what was going down.
I saw some talking, some threatening, and heard “Humne kuch hi din pehle ek couple ko sexing kartay wai pakra hai.” So many thoughts were racing through my mind, like how was I supposed to get back to the mall if they arrested him, who should I call, would he get arrested, I have the worst luck, and so much more.
The heated argument continued for what seemed like hours.
Since we had only gotten married a day ago, we did not have a nikkah-nama on hand to prove that we indeed were married. At the very last moment, I realized I had a few Polaroids from the day before in my purse, which could serve as proof that we were married. Luckily that was not needed, because only a few moments later my husband arrived back in the car saying they let him go. I found out “letting him go” was a keyword for “I bribed them with money which is the only reason they let me go.”
I immediately gave him the Polaroids to go show the cops that we were not doing anything “wrong” and that we indeed were married.
He went to show them anyway, despite the fact he knew all they really wanted was money and did not truly care what our relationship status was or why we were doing PDA. We drove away about forty-five minutes later and all we could do was laugh at the situation.
As funny and ridiculous this all sounds, because I will admit, if someone told me this story I would be hysterical.
Like what idiot would almost get arrested for kissing his wife in his car? The issue of the matter is “Is PDA in Pakistan a crime?” Can the police really arrest an individual for showing a public display of affection towards another individual?
Well, Pakistani law states, ““Whoever, to the annoyance of others; a) does any obscene act in any public place, or b) sings, recites or utters any obscene songs, ballad or words, in or near any public place, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.”
In layman terms, this means anyone that is being disruptive in a public place by behaving inappropriately can get in trouble. Nowhere does this say a guy and girl are not allowed to be in a car together or parked on the side of the road, whether they are married or not.
A car is considered private property, not a public space. Intimacy in a private vehicle is not enough grounds to arrest or fine anyone according to our law.
As for being caught out with someone other than a husband/wife or family member, an FIR would have to be filed by a police officer for attempted zina and only then can an arrest be made. If a female is the accused, only a superintendent can take action. This act was put in place to protect our women.
The question remains, do police officers have nothing better to do than bully couples for PDA and ask for money?
Was it really necessary for FIVE officers to gather around my husband in an attempt to arrest him when they could have been somewhere else protecting the people of our nation? That too for this? PDA? Really? That’s a criminal act? This is written not to stereotype the police force, but people are placed in situations like these way more times than we would like to admit to.
Many people do not come forward with their stories for reasons like embarrassment and negative association, but this is a chance to speak out and share your stories of mistreatment from police officers.
Cover image via Pinterest.com/@AnnaVoloshyn