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April 18, 2019

Policing paradoxes in Punjab


April 18, 2019

Islamabad : While the PTI government seems to be sinking deeper and deeper in the administrative quagmire the much needed ‘Police Reforms’ also have become a victim of inactivity, reflecting adversely on the performance of police all over the country, particularly in the federal capital, Islamabad.

Evidently the PTI government has not been able to recover from the first jolt in this direction when one of the highly respected and honest retired police officer, the former Inspector-General of Police (IGP) of Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa, Nasir Khan Durrani, tendered his resignation from the committee formed to draft ‘Police Reforms’ in Punjab.

Apparently, the government is unable to bring any modern police law even in Islamabad’s ICT Police even after assuming power in federation, but the prime minister desires police reforms as established in KP.

Police officers in ICT Police are facing paradoxical circumstances in many situations of law and order and investigations as ICT Police is still working under 158 years old, colonial heritage, Police Act 1861, whereas on its southern border is Punjab Province being governed under Police Order 2002 and on its northern side is KP being administered under KP Police Act 2016, the most modern police law being promulgated by the PTI government itself.

Luckiest situations developed result in disasters in Faizabad, where on one side in colonial federal police and on other side of rowdy crowds is Punjab police, mandated under Police Order 2002.

Many Police Officers confided to this scribe that Nasir Khan Durrani was man behind KP Police Act 2016 otherwise political will was lacking even that time to bring operational independent and accountable police in KP.

KP Police Act 2016 has modern principles of policing like operational autonomy as enshrined in Section 17, sub section 4. KP Police Act can be easily adapted for Islamabad Police provided there is political will to reform the police for better public service delivery, commented a senior police officer on condition of anonymity. He also asserted that bureaucracy is main hurdle in reforming police and adopting Police Act for Islamabad as currently all transfer/ postings are being notified by the ICT administration and there is a lot of interference from all stakeholders.

The transfer of Investigation process is also not streamlined in the absence of modern police, this criminal justice system is suffering at the first step.

Police Training on modern lines and functional specialisation is also missing in Islamabad, the federal Capital City. The e-policing initiatives in Islamabad are also not comparable with Punjab and KP.

Police Reforms was PTI’s first priority after they got power in KP but the elephant in Police Reforms of Punjab, PTI government in the province is still struggling to make a head way on the Police Reforms. He was Nasir Khan Durrani who made positive changes in policing.

Despite the best intention from the top, there has been no development on legislation for reforming police even after the lapse of eight months.

The PTI government had a bad start in Punjab last year when Nasir Khan Durrani, former IGP KP resigned after the premature transfer of former IGP, Punjab, Mr. Tahir who was later on parked in National Police Academy.

Interestingly, the reason for premature transfer of IGP Tahir was cited as an issue of not taking action against police officers involved in Model Town Case, but the real issue was the tussle of PSP and PAS (former DMG) which has been the elephant in the room on the issue of Police Reforms since long.

It was found that Nasir Khan Durrani has actually proposed complete operational control over police in transfer/postings of all officers working under the command of IGP which according to sources had been principally agreed but the officers of PAS convinced the CM Punjab as well as the political elite that it will ultimately ruin their political capital that is heavily dependent upon use/misuse of police and is primarily executed through posting of cronies.

The PM was kept in dark and as soon as issue of Model Town came, the elephant struck and deprived the PTI of his adviser who has actually championed the often cited transformation of KP Police.

The next team which landed on ground after the former IGP also headed the same road and the present IGP also miserably failed to move forward on the proposed reforms. Meanwhile, the posting of police officers especially DSPs continued to be a prerogative of the local MNA/MPAs of the district that has been an unwritten norm since the times of Shahbaz Sharif.

This time again the elephant was too big to be challenged and police found a novel way of getting around the issue by proposing Dispute Resolution Committees as a first step to have a foot print but again the committee constituted under Law Minister, Punjab did not agree with the proposals submitted by IGP.

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