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July 31, 2020

Lawmakers call for de-politicisation of police force in Sindh

Karachi

July 31, 2020

A group of members of the Provincial Assembly of Sindh (MPAs) have unanimously called for the de-politicisation of the police force in the province, terming it the only way forward to enjoy the results of police reforms.

They voiced this demand while participating in a virtual session on policing issues that aimed to introduce reforms in the police department with modern research mechanisms and necessary legislation, read a press release.

The online session was arranged by the Sustainable Social Development Organisation (SSDO), in collaboration with the United States Institute for Peace, for the Parliamentary Working Group of MPAs from Sindh, as part of the SSDO’s series of consultative sessions on the issue.

PA opposition leader MPA Firdous Shamim Naqvi and MPAs Adeeba Hassan, Ali Aziz, Hashim Raza, Nusrat Sehar Abbasi, Pir Mujeebul Haq, Rabia Khatoon, Dr Sanjay Gangwani, Shahzad Qureshi and Sidra Imran attended the session.

The parliamentarians, who belonged to different political parties, said that a lack of implementation of policing plan with unclear performance indicators and criteria encourage a culture of political influence on police, where officers are hired, transferred, promoted and demoted due to political pressure.

SSDO Executive Director Syed Kausar Abbas apprised the participants of the categorical matrix of concept, policy and service delivery for the proposed police reforms that include matters of women and community policing, and the overall digitalisation of the police department.

The participants suggested clear goal-setting and roadmaps for improvements in infrastructure, training and budgeting by following the best practices of other countries. They said remunerations for police officers at all tiers must be reflective of the service delivery that can be achieved by incentivising good service and penalising negligence.

They were of the view that the digitisation of police stations is still a far reality for the province and called for equipping each police station across Sindh with regard to its specific needs and demographics alongside the revival of neighbourhood policing and citizen participation to reduce the imbalance in the police-citizen ratio in each district to fight crime.

The legislators were unified on improving the human face of police and their treatment of citizens with respect and dignity at all stages of the investigation. They observed that even the educated class in major cities avoid registering complaints at police stations due to fear of police treatment. They suggested countering these issues by reducing the innumerable responsibilities put on the police force as part of every bill footed in the House and by including traffic police to help change its public perception.

They emphasised the extensive need for psychological training of police officers, not only for better dealing with victims, especially women and children, but also for their own morale-boosting and emotional intelligence.

The female lawmakers called for a holistic inclusion of women officers at all police stations, with female police dealing equally with complainants of all genders. They lamented that just one woman police help desk has been established for an entire district in some cases, with no access to justice for female victims of crime, who are already socially marginalised in rural Sindh.

Abbas assured the MPAs that their recommendations will be added in the evaluation of the existing laws, police reforms and research methodologies under the project ‘Police and Public Side by Side’ and stressed the parliamentarians’ role in reforming the police department across the country. The members of the Parliamentary Working Group will be provided with research-based technical assistance to raise the issues of police reforms in the provincial legislature.