Tajik Sohail Habib
2011-12 Humphrey Fellow
Tajik Sohail Habib has lived in some of the most dangerous places on the planet—Kosovo, Rwanda, and Liberia—and spent several years as a U.N. peacekeeper in those countries in the early 2000s. It's not much safer for Habib at home in Pakistan, a nation suffering from terrorism.
Born in a tribal area near the Afghanistan border, Habib graduated from Khyber Medical University in Peshawar with a medical degree. He could have spent his career in the relative safety of a hospital or clinic, but he decided that life as a physician would be too dull. "It was not my cup of tea," he says. So he became a cop.
After passing the highly competitive civil service exam, Habib took a job with the Police Service of Pakistan. "I want to bring a change to the culture," he says of his decision to switch careers. "I want to bring something positive to an agency that needed change."
Then came three years of civil service and police training, a job as assistant superintendent of police in the Frontier Province, and the beginning of five years of work in former war zones. In Kosovo, he helped rebuild the police department. In Rwanda, he investigated crimes. And in Liberia, he helped provide security. "It was very satisfying," he says, "because in each job, I achieved something."
When he returned home in 2005, Habib led an effort at the Peshawar Metropolitan Police to digitize thousands of personnel records. That made evaluations and assignments easier for management.
In 2007, he began working for the federal police. Habib returned to local police work in 2011, and he has focused on creating avenues for ordinary citizens to have quick and effective access to police officials, so citizens' needs can be served and the citizens themselves can experience respectful treatment.