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July 5, 2020

Corruption continues to pervade police stations


July 5, 2020

Islamabad :: The question concerning the eradication of ‘Thana Culture’, probably, will remain unanswered as to how can corruption at the police station level is meaningfully curbed.

Regardless of accountability at the lower level, corruption continues to pervade the police stations, particularly of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Police officials are caught and suspend the cops on corruption charges but are later cleared for unexplained reasons. Thus the entire action turns out to be eyewash.

Former Inspector general of Police, Zulfiqar Cheema, having immense experience of field policing, said when asked about the basic criteria of an SHO, “Two basic qualities, required for the police officers whether they command the basic unit of the police station or a district or division, are integrity and effectiveness. Some officers are honest but otherwise ineffective, they are also useless in the field of law enforcement because they can hardly contribute to the system. Some are effective but corrupt – such rogues should have no place in police stations.”

“In another political move, four parliamentary groups, consisting of members of National Assembly, Senate, Punjab, Sindh, Baluchistan, and Khyber Pakhtunkhawa Assemblies to bring reforms in the police department, in presence Police Order 2002,” former IGP Zulfiqar Cheema said when asked and added that political influence in police affairs in the present system has never seen in the past, even in dictatorial regime.

The former IGP said, the Police Reforms does not go well with the political governments and politicians.

It is a hard fact that corruption at the police station level can’t be eliminated in the prevailing circumstances, even during the present government which believes in social reforms and establishing corruption-free police stations. This dream could only become a reality with effective planning, selection, and appointment of honest and professional SHOs (station house officers) and capable leadership, he concluded.

What is and what should be criteria of selection of SHO, an office that is the basic tool of combating corruption and the accomplishment of the dream of elimination of ‘Thana Culture’ which has literarily become a political slogan of every government.

Obviously, honesty with professionalism is basic quality of an SHO with extra attributes of bravery, commitment with duty, ability to deliver professionally with the investigation skill and enjoying public support having roots in the area people and finally, his accessibility to the aggrieved people. But the question is who meets the criteria having a package of these qualities in the corrupt police system.

Certainly, in the epoch of dearth of the right, when even Police Service of Pakistan (PSP) and District Management Group (DMG) officers are indulging in moral corruption, there are still many upper and lower subordinate police officials who believe in earning their bread and butter honestly but the authorities would have to pick the diamond from the filthy mud.

Most of the SHOs occupy different police stations due to their skill to maintain or develop close relations with leaders or personalities having influence in power corridors irrespective of the fact which political government is in place. It happened, even, in this regime when an established corrupt and notorious police inspector, due to the influence of a top political leader, was appointed as SHO. He was suspended on corruption charges. The interior minister took notice and removed him immediately after his appointment as SHO.

Unfortunately, police authorities of the twin-cities, haven’t yet achieved the target to hunt police officials of the ranks of inspectors and sub-inspectors (SIs) who meet the set criteria for the appointment as SHOs, the sources told The News adding that among some SIs, only one was found as an average police official meeting the set standard while the other nine were below average.

The irony is that the operational office is eliminating a few honest and upright SHOs one by one for unknown reasons after humiliating them and replacing them with ‘favourites’. A recurring common whisper is that police stations are ‘auctioned’ or ‘granted’ due to political influence without gauging the ability and efficiency of police officers. Corrective measures are required to be taken to check this trend to improve the image of police in the public eye.

Former Inspector general of police (IGP), Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), Nasir Khan Durrani, when contacted to seek his point of view on the subject, had said, “Though, the SHO as an individual can play a vital role but not so important to change the system. Sustainable measures are require to change the police station culture, which, obviously, is not possible with the effectual assistance and backing of the general public.”

Former IGP Islamabad, Sikandar Hayat, said when asked, “Certainly, there is no such officer having a complete package for the appointment of the key post of SHO, however, we are hounding for the officer meeting minimum criteria for the post.” The system required an operation against the corrupt SHOs to develop base for corruption-free policing, Sikandar Hayat concluded.