Karamat Ali, the Pakistan Institute of Labour and Research (PILER) executive director, comments on the status of the Sindh Public Safety and Police Complaints Commission
Civil society organisations and some individuals, including Karamat Ali, the Pakistan Institute of Labour and Research (PILER) executive director, filed a constitutional petition in the Sindh High Court (SHC) on police reforms in Sindh through senior lawyer Faisal Siddiqi in 2016. Commenting on subsequent developments, Ali says, “the Public Safety and Police Complaints Commission formed as directed under the law governed by the Sindh (Repeal of the Police Act, 1861 and Revival of Police Order, 2002) (Amendment) Act, 2019, is essentially dysfunctional currently”.
The commission’s objectives were twofold; to bring relief both to the common man and to the police officials who have been used as pawns by the ruling elite for years now, he told The News on Sunday (TNS).over phone. “We started on the right foot,” he adds.
The commission’s formation was notified under the law on September 11, 2019. Monthly meetings were to be convened from the following month. “The first meeting took place in October 2019, and since then, a total of nine sessions have been held so far, three of which were on requisition by civil society members of the commission”, says the PILER executive.
The twelve-member commission comprises government representatives, opposition and civil society members, and is chaired by the Sindh chief minister. “The government can legislate, but it makes no difference if no one is willing to work towards putting laws to use. The CM has ignored the commission”, adds the development activist.
“We should have had 24 meetings by now”, says Ali. The commission was supposed to discuss matters of great urgency, including premature transfers, unstable tenures, the politicisation of police and concerns pertaining to public safety. However, due to the unavailability of the chairperson, the meetings have been delayed indefinitely.
“The last meeting was held on July 18, 2020”, says the PILER official. What good are ordinances, laws, and commissions if they cannot complete the goals they set out to achieve? Reformation of the Police Department cannot happen overnight. It is a time-consuming procedure much needed for social stability and building the public’s trust in its institutions. If elected members of the government, the ones with authority, are going to disregard its laws, then there is little chance for improvement. “Under the law, commissions were supposed to be formed in other provinces and districts as well”, says Ali. Unfortunately, the one that has been formed is in the doldrums. Only time will tell if its stakeholders, especially those in positions of power, are willing to invest their time and effort into fulfilling the promises.
The writer is a staff member