Remembering our heroes

POLICE Martyrs Day was marked with great reverence nationwide on Saturday to remember and honour those who sacrificed their lives to defend our way of life. Great nations never forget their heroes and our nation too has not only stood shoulder-to-shoulder with their security personnel in difficult times but also valued and respected their sacrifices for the motherland. Both political and military leadership paid rich tributes to the police personnel who indeed wrote history of bravery and courage with their blood by standing firm against terrorists and criminals, thus setting great precedence for their successors to follow their footprints to foil conspiracies and protect life and property of common man. While Prime Minister-in-waiting Imran Khan stated that valour and duty are hallmark of our personnel, Chief of Army Staff Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa stated that though all security forces fight terrorists, it is the police that have played greater role in defeating terrorism.
Indeed over the years, police force has been the primary target of terrorist attacks throughout the country from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa to Balochistan. One has seen police cadets to high-ranking police officers rendering their life in the war on terror. On July 25 polling day in Quetta, police force was again the target of terrorists in which six police personnel were martyred while a senior ranking police officer survived the attack. The fact of matter is that today peace largely stands restored due to the efforts and sacrifices of police, Pakistan Army and law enforcement agencies. The role of Pakistan Army has also remained pivotal in capacity building of police personnel to tackle the menace. Though in our society, police is notorious for corruption and lack of efficiency but the sacrifices rendered by these personnel over the years are indicative of the fact that the department has no dearth of brave and capable cops. The idea behind observing Police Martyrs Day was also to boost the morale of the police personnel but this should also be coupled with equipping them with right kind of training and tools keeping in view the contemporary trends. There have been many attempts to reform the police department but these never bore fruit due to lack of commitment on part of our successive governments.
Over the last five years, one saw significant improvement in the working of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police and one expects that the PTI after forming the government in Centre will fulfil its promise and replicate the same reforms in other provinces. Most recently the Chief Justice of Pakistan has also taken an important step by constituting police reforms committee. By employing a diagnostic approach in the public’s interest, and forming a body solely of professional police officers, the superior judiciary has for the first time reposed confidence in the institution’s top brass’s ability to reform itself. The foremost job would be to delete completely all pre-partition laws and enact new laws, course of action that meets the requirements of present age and time to transform police into an autonomous public-oriented service. The new government as well as police reforms committee should make sure that recruitment in police department is made purely on merit. For this strictly a merit-based system be adopted and implemented. At present police training focuses almost exclusively on physical training with little or no emphasis on character building, mental attitude and following latest investigation techniques. While some investigators have the enthusiasm and curiosity to learn on the job, most view the investigation wing as a temporary stint before moving on to greener pastures. Therefore, investigators should be recruited through a professional body that selects the best talent to become permanent, non-transferable fixtures in their wings. They should then undergo specialised training at dedicated and high-level institutes.
Ultimately, reforms that do not improve working environment and culture at the police stations would not yield desired dividends. Therefore, federal and provincial governments need to allocate sufficient funds for each police station so that the SHOs are not required to use illegal means to run affairs of his station. It will also be a tribute to the martyrs of police personnel, if federal and provincial governments succeed in reforming the department making it totally free from any political influence. Genuine reforms in police will also give rise to new heroes in the force and the young generation will feel proud to join the service and serve the people and the country.

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