October 17, 2021

Premature transfers and continues reshuffling in the police department a detrimental to the proper functioning of the institution


Premature transfers and major reshuffles are a bane of the police departments across the country, not to mention utterly worrisome for a state with agile crime networks. The problems include but are not limited to the premature transfer of yet another inspector general of the Punjab Police; the federal government’s transfer of 15 police officers under the new rotation policy earlier this year; Sindh High Court’s dismissal of petitions filed against the Establishment Division’s notification with regard to the transfer of five police officers in September; and the stagnancy of reform efforts such as the Sindh Public Safety and Police Complaints Commission.

Ever since the Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) government took office, police reforms have been at the top of its priority list. Punjab, by far, has been hit the worst, and constant reshuffles have irked police officials in the province. Still, the reshuffles that have jolted the police department are believed to be, by a large margin, pushed by the political elite.

The stability of tenure is vital to police performance. However, in recent days this factor has been severely lacking. When high-ranking officers are transferred without due notice, it is bound to create ripples across the system, leading to further confusion and instability, which can be extremely detrimental to the proper functioning of the institution.

Many of the police reform initiatives have been an exercise in futility as the resulting changes were inconsequential. There is a need for developing proper frameworks governing police action and accountability. The checks and balances must not be divisive and driven by vested interests.

The politicisation of the police force remains a significant concern in the country. It is high time that police reforms are diligently followed and the officers relieved of some of their worries. Security of tenure is necessary for officers to perform better and be held accountable. Accountability is a demand of the civil society worried by societal instability and prejudicial treatment of the general public and respectable law enforcement officers.

Legislation alone is not enough. The implementation of policies and effective management of systemic framework is needed for maintaining an effective police force.