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July 17, 2019

Police reforms – the govt’s forgotten agenda

Top Story

July 17, 2019

ISLAMABAD: Police reforms, which once has been the top commitment of the ruling PTI, is now a forgotten agenda of the government.

During the initial few months of the PTI government and following the direction of Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Punjab government had notified the setting up of a Police Reforms Commission under reputed Nasir Durrani, former IGP KP. However, within a week time the commission had become defunct when Durrani decided to quit as chairman of the commission in protest against the premature transfer of the then IGP Punjab Muhammad Tahir.

The prime minister had selected Nasir Durrani after the latter’s extraordinary performance in making the KP Police depoliticised during his tenure as IGP KP under Pervaiz Khattak government. Time and again, the prime minister has been referring to the work done by Nasir Durrani in KP and promised that the PTI after coming into power would depoliticise the Punjab Police and make it a modern force. However, after the departure of Nasir Durrani, the issue lost the focus and was pushed to the back burner.

When Nasir Durrani was working as the commission’s chairman, he had set up its office in the GOR-I Lahore, which was immediately shut down after his dissociation with the body. The serving police officers, who were associated with the Durrani-commission, were also never engaged. Information Minister Punjab Sumsam Bukhari when contacted on Tuesday told The News that a committee under provincial Law Minister Raja Basharat is mulling on police reforms. Bukhari said that besides him, the IG Police Punjab is also the member of the committee. Bukhari, however, was gracious to admit that the Basharat committee’s working is in slow pace.

Bukhari disclosed that under the UNDP programme, a committee headed by a retired police officer and ex-DG FIA Tariq Pervez and comprising one MPA from each political party having representation in Punjab Assembly, is also working on police reforms. Senior police sources in Punjab lament that the politicisation of police in Punjab has gone from bad to worse during the present PTI government. These sources said the reforming police is no more the priority of the government. Similarly at the federal level in Islamabad Capital Territory, the police continues to be run in the old fashion and there is no effort afoot to reform the police in the capital city.

The PTI in its manifesto had promised: “We will enforce depoliticisation of police by building upon KP’s successful police reform model, which will be replicated nationally. Police in Pakistan is ill-equipped, poorly trained, deeply politicised, and chronically corrupt. Police reforms have been neglected by successive governments to continue using the force as a political tool.” The PTI committed that in order to reform the police, it will: “Replicate the KP Police Act of 2017 across other provinces and appoint professional inspector generals to lead the depoliticisation of police similar to KP. Professionalise police hiring and career management, ensuring no political influence on policing in all matters from hiring, posting, and transferring of personnel. · Replicate KP’s success in creating specialised training institutions. We will also invest in new policing systems and processes by tracking performance, equipping districts with modern surveillance/command and control centres. Make public outreach to police easier through new and enhanced policing apps, SMS systems, online FIRs and call centres. Establish women police stations and desks at all levels to facilitate women empowerment.

We will scale up the existing KP model of Alternate Dispute Resolution Councils at tehsil levels, by rolling out the KP DRC model nationally to allow conflict resolution for small crimes right down at the tehsil level and police station level.” Unfortunately hardly any of the above committed in regard to police reforms has been fulfilled by the PTI government either at the centre or in any of the provinces that the PTI rules.