POLICE reforms is one of the points of election manifesto of almost every political party contesting in general election in Pakistan.
Sad and unfortunate observation has been that whoever came into power in the last thirteen years of continued democracy did nothing to devise police reforms, one of the country’s urgent needs.
Police in Pakistan needs complete restructuring, training, remuneration, uniform, equipment, means of mobility, well defined regular duty hours, discipline, accountability, performance reward, conduct and interaction with the civil society.
These points must immediately and seriously be addressed by the respective authorities to formulate police reforms.
Current police system is inherent “Chowkidari Nizam” from the colonial British rule, where all executive powers were with the ruling British elite.
The society needs to redefine the role of its police by giving the police its due authority, power and legitimate degree of freedom to carry out its civil services so that police, besides delivering its good services, should also earn public confidence and due respect as the protector and implementer of the law.
Parliament must act in the common interest of the civilians to work on police reforms without further delay.
Sacredness of the Constitution and sanctity of Parliament is a frequent and common chorus of the parliamentarians, be they are in power or in the opposition, yet nation could not see anything coming out from Parliament House in the form of police reforms in the past thirteen years. Onus mainly lies with Parliament. Nothing is impossible for those who have willing heart.
For parliamentarians of Pakistan, perhaps police reforms are at the lowest level of the priorities, or not a priority at all.
Sluggish style of working, old methods of combating crime in modern digital age, excessive and abusive police behaviour (due to lack of accountability), twisting of the basic facts by the police at the filing of first information report are the common woes of the people seeking police help.
Rich, powerful and influential buy police loyalties. Inaccurate, faulty and twisted FIRs, which police submits in the court of law, result in the form of denial of true justice to the party aggrieved, and criminal gets away with his crime without getting punished.
That makes him more brazen to take law in his hands without any sense of guilt, rather he enjoys impunity.
Most of our policy makers, think tanks are at loss over the alarmingly rising rate of the crimes in the society.
Mere criticism or shedding tears over woes resulting from faulty police system is not the objective here. Objective is to take immediate and drastic measures to overhaul the entire police system uniformly across the country.
A few suggestions are here for every reader: 1. Cities should be divided into smaller sectors to improve police management, mobility and fight against crimes. 2. Police chief and police personnel should be local. 3. Police chief should be elected by the residents of the sector, not deputed by federal or provincial government.
This may prove to be the first step towards depoliticizing the police. 4. An independent committee must be set up to look into the service record of each police personnel.
Those found guilty of serious crimes must be terminated from their services with immediate effect.
Those with less serious crimes should be given last warning before termination. Those with outstanding performance must be promoted and duly rewarded.
5. Police foundations across the country must hold professional trainings for each and every police personnel.
Essence of those trainings must be to improve ethics, professionalism and harmonious relations with the civilians.
Pakistan has been served by some great police chiefs, like Dr Shoaib Suddle and many others, whose services are still being hired internationally.
Help must be sought from such competent experts, retired or in service, to design the training contents. 6. Police trainings, mentioned above, must be periodic and recurring. 7. After training, accountability process must be extremely strict and honest. 8. Service rules must be redefined with performance oriented reward/punishment concept. 9. Police-Civilian liaison cell should exist in each police station.
10. Widely available Internet facility must be used to report and record First Information Report (FIR). 11. A monthly or a quarterly meeting of Police-Civilian Liaison Committee and the local residents must be held at a designated place and date.
Lots of other valuable and practical suggestion, will flow in if policy makers, intellectuals, reformers and teachers are asked to participate in this serious society mission.
The mission to set the society to be livable equally for each member of the society, with respect, honour, dignity, sense of security, irrespective of his/her social status, religious or political views/affiliation, caste, creed or colour.
Nothing is impossible, needed most is true conviction, proper utilization of available resources, honest and dedicated efforts from the policy makers, police and the members of the society.
Human history has witnessed nations taking 180 degrees turn (gradual not radical) from barbaric to civilized societies.
Change is possible only when one is willing to change him or herself, not otherwise.
—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Islamabad.