Azhar Hasan Nadeem touched the sensitive issues of police control and operational independence in his letter published in the News Post on July 16. There is no doubt that the general public, politicians, the bureaucracy and the judiciary are not happy with the performance of our police. There are many reasons for this state of affairs; historical, political, social and organisational etc. Many critics blame departmental hierarchy for police’s ineffectiveness in controlling crime while others put the blame on politicians who misuse the police force for their own political and personal purposes. This blame game leads nowhere. In the past, many commissions and committees were formed for drawing up a police-reform plan. The last serious initiative was taken by General Parvez Musharraf who tasked Lt-Gen Naqvi, chairman National Reconstruction Bureau, with drafting a new police law. General Naqvi, with intellectual input from selected senior police officers, prepared the Police Order 2002. This law was not accepted by the powerful provincial bureaucracy, which wanted to keep the police under its thumb. Some in-service officers also did not accept the law wholeheartedly because they were trained and groomed to work with magistracy in dealing with public-disorder situations.
Also, amendments introduced by the Musharraf government under pressure from interested quarters made the Police Order 2002 toothless in the domain of accountability. Though the Police Order 2002 led to expansion and promotions in the department, it did not produce the desired results for the general public. Now the Punjab bureaucracy wants to bring out a new police order. Other provinces will follow Punjab. According to Dr A H Nadeem, the proposed law will bring the police under complete bureaucratic control and the public will be once again left high and dry. For the provincial bureaucracy, controlling the police is more important than crime control and peace.
Today the police are facing unique challenges; the present policing system is not geared to cope with terrorism and extremism. As a matter of fact, the administrative system has become irrelevant, obsolete, corrupt and inefficient. Under these circumstances, the need for police reforms cannot be overemphasised. However, these reforms should emerge through debates, discussions and research. All stakeholders, including the judiciary, should be taken on board in the reform process. The nation deserves and needs an efficient, effective, accountable and operationally independent police.
PSP (r) Asghar Mahmood