Why the Police struggle in Pakistan

Everywhere in the world, Police is considered as the frontline of defense, precisely, a “pawn “on the board of crime. Having direct contact with society at every level, it plays a vital role in ensuring the smooth and steady functioning of law and order situation in the society. Therefore, everywhere in the world, capacity building of the Police department is a top priority of concerned stakeholders. However, unfortunately, in Pakistan, things have been otherwise. This contradictory prevailing trend, when it comes to policing, has led to many devastating consequences for the society as well as the department itself.

First of all, owing to lack of resources, there has been acute shortage of human resource. Unlike international standards and standards set by the UN, that allow one policeman for the population of 300, here in Pakistan, it’s one policeman for the population of 500. Hence, the effects are obvious. Furthermore, available strength is mostly engaged with escort duties and VIPs movements, leaving only a small number for the general public in the end.

Likewise, owing to basic drawbacks in legal structure and use of centuries old law-manuals, drafted by the colonial authorities in order to assist the smooth implementation of Crown’s rule in the Subcontinent, there has been an increase in the exploitation of these weaker laws and their use for the vested interests of specific groups of the society. Consider the example of PPC (Pakistan Penal Code); this document was drafted back in 1860. Similarly, CRPC (Criminal Procedural Code) was drafted back in 1898. In the same way Police Rules’ document was drafted in 1934. These documents, with slight modifications and amendments, are still being used by major law enforcement agencies (LEAs) of Pakistan. These laws are decades old and have many loopholes that are constantly being exploited by criminals and LEAs appear helpless in the face of weaknesses.

Then comes the most important barrier in the path of effective policing: the lack of basic facilities. There is no separate hospital for Police in the whole of Punjab. There is no separate education institute for the children of Police officials anywhere in Pakistan. There is no facility for the families of Police officials seeking health treatment. The absence of these basic facilities is considered to be the deadliest barrier in effective Policing.

In addition to this, political interference has put the last nail in the coffin of Police. Politicians, in order to appease the vote bank, use undue political influence in majority of the cases. This practice has destroyed the repute of Police in the eyes of society and hence, society does not trust Police anymore. In this quagmire, media also played a negative role by always mocking Police and not acknowledging their sacrifices.

The list of problems goes on and on. The aforementioned examples are just the tip of an iceberg. We, as a society collectively, have failed to address these issues for so long. Consequently, increased crime rate, low morale of the Police and lack of trust from society prevails across Pakistan without any discrimination. Hence, an overhaul of the whole department is the need of the hour.

Government should do capacity building of the Police in all aspects. Proper availability of basic facilities, like those being given to other prestigious institutes, should be ensured as soon as possible. Amendments and new laws, equipped with needs of modern times, should be drafted by taking on board all the concerned stakeholders. Similarly, till the time political influence is completely eliminated, all other moves will become null and void. Police is basic defense unit of our society. Today, the world is efficiently implementing the concept of “community policing” to tackle the shortage of resources. Our society also needs to change its perception regarding Police and become a helping hand for the Police department. Development of professionalism and effective grant of basic facilities will ensure the higher levels of intrinsic motivation that ultimately will lead to better policing.

The policymakers and home- departments of all provinces must realize the fact that it’s high time to introduce the policing standards of the 21st-century. If concerned stakeholders failed to address the emerging demand of much needed reforms, the decline of Police will become inevitable which will have long-lasting impacts, obviously negative, for the whole society.

Police department must be empowered and brought at par in terms of facilities with rest of the departments. Police is part of society and it represents the true face of any society. If Police is suffering, it means society is suffering, if Police is corrupt, it means society is corrupt, and hence a strong and developed Police department means an established and strong society.

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