KARACHI: Pulling off his yellow uniform shirt swiftly, 47-year-old local lifeguard Muhammad Anwar runs to the shore with a rescue tube under his arm and smoothly dives into the sea to rescue a boy from drowning.
This might seem like a scene from the famous 90s television series Baywatch, in which actor David Hasselhoff, who played the character of Mitch Buchannon, rescued people without breaking a sweat. However, in reality, it is a matter of life and death for Anwar everyday as he puts his life at risk to save people from drowning.
Anwar, who is the incharge of lifeguards at Sandspit beach in Karachi, belongs to a family of fishermen who reside along the coast. Anwar became associated with the Pakistan Life Saving Foundation (PALS) in 2004, which is the only professional lifeguard and drowning prevention service in Pakistan.
Anwar dries himself off with a towel as he comes back to the hut – the office of PALS, from where he keeps an eye on the activities going on at the beach. “These people [swimmers] are fools as this is not the season to challenge the sea,” Anwar says, referring to the people who go swimming in the sea in this weather.
The mercury had increased to 38° Celsius but the hut was cool due to the sea breeze. Anwar’s office had all the necessary equipment that a lifeguard needs, such as first aid kit, rescue tubes and cans, ring buoys, while double cabin 4×4 vehicles were also parked outside.