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Reforming Police in Pakistan

Abdul Rahman Malik

POLICE in Pakistan have been very aggressive in all the provinces of Pakistan, especially in Punjab and Sindh. Though ,there is a concept of community-friendly Policing in Pakistan in just laws that may encourage the victims to expect some relief from the Police. There have been no reforms in Policing except some changes in the KP police that to some extent improved the Police Stations and may have revamped the traditional “thana culture” and converting them into community legal consultancy and support centres changing their dreadful concept for the public and has stopped the bribe. The Head Munshis (WHCs) mostly deal the affairs at various police stations and are often called the earning machines for the SHOs. The lack of proper training and grooming especially for psychological disorders creates situations like Model Town Lahore, Sahiwal like incidents. Even the criminal negligence of Police in Irshad Ranjhani Case where a UC Nazim Raheem Shah shot a political worker to death through bullet shots in the presence of senior Police officer in broad day light.
The Police think that they have the licence to kill and these extrajudicial killings have further widened the distance between the police and the citizens that is why the citizens have started protecting themselves rather than relying on the police since it has failed miserably in protecting the people from the criminal elements. There are several cases in Pakistan where so-called Chaudhries, Sardars, Feudal Lords and Interest Mafias have humiliated the poor families on unscrupulous designs which were refused to be served by these poor families and as a result of their refusal, they were subjected to physical torture in police stations on the power of money and political positions.
The police are always reluctant to register the case against any influential Sardar, Feudal lord or Interest Mafia until a high-level official from the police or court takes suo motu notice of such massive injustice, criminal negligence or cruelty with the poor souls. Those who fall victim to police terrorism (police gardy) take them as dreadful creatures since these barbaric police personnel do not fit in the definition of humanity owing to their inhuman behaviours or psychological disorders. The Police officials always disgrace respectable citizens with insulting attitudes by undressing the accused publically that shows their moral degradation and non-professionalism in dealing with the cases and interrogations. The katcha areas of Punjab, Sindh are said to be the criminal safe havens since traces of every crime go to these areas but due to some patronage from the feudal lords and internal connections of the Police with criminals , the raids conducted by Police in association with the Rangers have failed since information is already shared by some black sheep within the police ranks with those in Katcha area .
According to reports that in the past, the IG Sindh and other officers had issued a report in which various names of Police officers were mentioned who had links with criminals. Furthermore, Police are frequently involved in land grabbing, drug peddling, gambling and supporting interest mafia that is looting the nation with both hands. The police act like Munshis (accountants) to these mafias since they themselves avail their services and provide security to them. That is why these interest mafias have set up their shops in the vicinity of police stations and SSP offices so that they may run their illegal interest based business under the patronage and support of Police. Thanks to recent legislation against the interest mafia that suggests rigorous punishments and fines for those who run the interest based business. But, its application is still questionable since the same police will execute complaints making it hard for people . I have seen many cases in which poor women were dragged to the police stations by male Police personnel that presents a grim picture and increases the fear of people from the Thana Culture and the so-called Thanedar.
The draconian practice of police torture often thwarts the criminal law procedure and leaving the victims at the mercy of these people. The police torture will go unabated until we legislate for such malpractices. The govt should transform the police stations into legal consultancy centres by appointing legal experts and modernizing the outlook of police stations so that people’s fear against the thana culture may be changed so that citizens and Police liaison may be enhanced and the victims must get the relief and timely help in a friendly manner. The house raids must be conducted by the ladies police such as house search etc in the cases if it is necessary. The police officers having links with various interest mafias, drug peddlers, criminals and dacoits must be dismissed from service since these criminal personnel always play the role of abettor in the crime. The police rules and police order requires overhauling and strict monitoring system should be deployed on each police station. The installation of CCTV cameras at every police station will restrain police from inflicting torture or taking the bribe. The KP police were reformed a lot but such reforms should be done at the national level since the Provincial Police chiefs are appointed by the Federal Government. The National Policy on Police reforms will serve the interests of all provinces and the federation.
— The writer is freelance columnist, based in Sindh.