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June 27, 2019

Police Order 2002, incessant power conflict between PAS & PSP


June 27, 2019

Islamabad : Police, being the lead agency in maintenance of internal security is yet to be reformed, despite transient of four regimes – Musharraf, PPP, PML-N and PTI – but the previous governments have botched implementing Police Order 2002 in Islamabad Capital Territory.

There has always been conflict between police and administration service which used to eat up energy and resources of both the institutions.

It was believed that the Pakistan Administration Service (PAS) remained the main resistance in the implementation of the Police Order, the Police Service of Pakistan (PSP) officers orate, the PAS officers occupy prime positions in the government set up to govern the system.

Under the PAS administrative system, the initiatives of police officers were controlled and institutional growth of police was hindered. The system was also abusive of age old principle of responsibility with authority as a deputy commissioner enjoys supervision over the police force but when something goes wrong, only the police officers would bear the brunt.

Almost 17 years have lapsed but the Police Order 2002 has yet to come to age in Islamabad and is still awaiting its proper implementation by the provinces and the federal government. The piece of law was promulgated in order to repeal the draconian Police Act of 1861, however, as reported by the Crisis Group report, police reforms were sacrificed for political expediency.

Unfortunately, Pakistan lagged behind because of resistance from vested interest groups to preserve their colonial powers.

After independence, the people demanded a change in the colonial system of policing. A bill was passed in Sindh Assembly to introduce Police Commissionerate System in Karachi like Mumbai. The bill was submitted before the Governor General of Pakistan Qauid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah for the final approval. Qauid-e-Azam approved the bill with his signature and Qauid sent the bill for notification but unfortunately but the bureaucracy used delay tactics, meanwhile, he passed away and the bill never saw the light of the day.

According to a police officer, Musharraf introduced amendments fundamentally undermining the order’s intent and spirit. The report concludes that “amendments in Police Order have watered down provisions that held some promise of reform, including mechanisms for civilian accountability and internal discipline, as well as guarantees for autonomy and safeguards against political interference in the posting, transfer and promotion of police officials”. These amendments were made in 2004 when the PML Q leadership opposed the police order fearing losing their leverage over the police to harass political opponents. According to the report, one former IG stated that “the primary concern was not a diminution of provincial autonomy but rather the threat that the undiluted administrative control of the provincial police officer over his force would deny them opportunities to determine posting and transfers on the basis of political considerations.”

Whatever have been the motives for reforms or for the amendments, it is now the prerogative of the elected government to either undo these amendments or altogether scrap this order. However the reforms need to be introduced into the police department without any further delay.

The Crisis group report has given recommendations to the government which should be seriously considered. The important recommendation among others include; separation of police complaint authorities from public safety commissions; empowering the public safety commissions by devising stringent mechanism for police accountability; increasing salaries, particularly of those at the bottom of hierarchy; making the appointment of senior police officials subject to the recommendations of the relevant public safety commission; appointing an independent police ombudsman to investigate serious cases of abuse, including custodial deaths and sexual offences against female prisoners; evolving a national consensus on how to make the police a disciplined, efficient, modern, non-partisan, service oriented and transparent institution and framing statutory legislation based on that consensus, instead of indefinitely extending a presidential ordinance.

“The magistracy system does not commensurate with the requirement of the modern times. They contended that it provides dual control which is against the basic principle of modern administration,” former inspector general of police (IGP), Zulfiqar Cheema, when contacted, said, adding that police are under dual command of deputy commissioner as well as the superintendent of police in magistracy system. He said duality of command badly affects morale and efficiency of the force. It restrains the initiative of police officers and hinders the professional growth of their organization, the former IGP maintained.

The system of dual control over the police force, might be suitable for a colonial administration but certainly, not for the modern, independent democratic country, the former IGP spoke out, adding, it has no capacity to cope with the security challenges of 21st century which require operational autonomy to ensure rapid response, efficiency and a proactive approach. He said, all the developed countries have regarded Metropolitan policing system, adding, it allows the institutional growth of the police and enables it to deal quickly and effectively with present day challenges of security and law and order.

“Magistracy system had only a superficial check. The real checks on the misuse of police powers come from judiciary, media, public representatives, civil society and above all from within the police command,” Zulfiqar Cheema concluded.

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