Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has once again spoken about further improving the thana culture. May I ask the chief minister how he will change the thana culture when the police force already stands politicised and has ceased to work as an independent institution that protects the people and their properties without any interference from the political government? When a posting or transfer of a police officer depends on the discretion of the chief minister, it is unlikely that a police officer will perform his duties according to the prescribed rules. When hundreds of policemen are for the personal security of politicians and top bureaucrats, expecting the police force to serve the citizens is a contradiction. Is the life of an ordinary citizen not as precious as that of a political leader who is a representative of the people? Why are politicians afraid of the people who elected them and entrusted them with the power of ruling them?

In order to change the thana culture it is imperative to change the present system of police recruitment, training, responsibilities and service structure. The rules of the system date back to the colonial era, though the need of the day is an independent police institution where recruitment of officers is based on qualifications and merit. In my opinion, a police officer even a constable should be at least a graduate. Police officers should study and be trained for a minimum of two years before being made in charge of a police station. Similarly, policemen should undergo at least one year’s rigorous training in fitness, forensics, discipline and criminology. The service structure should follow the model of the army. Only then can police performance change, followed by a change in the thana culture. The other important factor missing is the participation of the community in police working and performance evaluations. Those new residential colonies which have their own security arrangements must be made part of police functions such as protecting the property and maintaining law and order. Why are people afraid of seeking help from the police? Why does each police station have a price when SHOs are willing to pay for their transfers? Developing and encouraging community policing and revamping the whole police system are the need of the hour.

Unfortunately, our political leaders are so busy in political scoring with each other that they do not have time to think and implement those policies which contribute to the welfare of the people and which can really make a difference in the performance of the government. Lastly, I suggest that the chief minister should also establish women police stations that are managed by women alone so that 50 percent of the population is given its due importance and equal rights.


Lahore, July 30.