LAHORE - Prime Minister Imran Khan Monday chaired a meeting on police reforms at the chief minister’s secretariat and directed introducing radical changes in police department to change its perception and to improve the system of prosecution as well as investigation. 

Punjab police Chief Arif Nawaz briefed the prime minister about the reforms being introduced in police department. Punjab Chief Minister Sardar Usman Buzdar, Special Adviser to PM on Information, Dr Firdous Aashiq Awan, PM’s political Assistant Naeemul Haq and Punjab Minister for Law Mohammad Basharat Raja were also attended the meeting among others. 

The PM was told that 80 per cent of complaints against police were related to petty issues while 20 per cent pertained to crime and theft. He was also briefed that 80 per cent of the public complaints would be addressed at Khidmat Marakiz and the remaining 20 per cent would be shifted to the police stations. This would lessen the burden on police stations, the prime minister was told.

Chief Minister Punjab Sardar Usman Buzdar, Prime Minister’s Special Advisor on Information Dr Firdous Aashiq Awan and Punjab IGP later briefed the media about the meeting chaired by the prime minister. Punjab Minister for Law Mohammad Basharat Raja and Punjab Minister for Industries and Information Mian Aslam Iqbal were also present.

80pc of complaints against police are about petty issues

Usman Buzdar said that practical steps have been undertaken in order to change police culture according to the vision of Prime Minister Imran Khan.

He said rules were being amended so as to make police public-friendly. “While it is entirely difficult task to change the 70 years old system altogether, but the PTI government was taking distinctive steps with the help of modern technology in order to bring changes in Thana culture”, he told reporters, adding that facilities were also being provided to the general public at the service centers. He said Police allowances had been restored.

The CM stated that Punjab government was also bringing improvement in law & order situation with the help of safe city and information technology project. “With the help of cameras, barracks and investigation process is being monitored in police stations. We will provide necessary resources to the police and will bring changes in their culture and attitude”, he observed. He said government was also changing the jail manual. This would benefit seriously ill persons besides 300 seriously sick prisoners, he said, adding that rules were also being amended regarding release on parole and five thousand prisoners will get relief. “We will also change the curriculum of police and will enhance their professional abilities. The government will provide international level support and training to police and it will no longer be possible to change Masl during in-camera investigation process”, he said.

Replying to a question, the chief minister said that it was the discretion of Chief Minister to change the portfolio of Ministers. Answering a question about Sahiwal incident, he said government took action within 72 hours to provide relief to the victims. “The shortest time limit within which the Punjab government took action with regard to Sahiwal tragedy has no example in the past. Why don’t media talk about Model tragedy?” He asked.

Answering another question, the chief minister said that Patwari culture will also be changed and Patwari will be given the title of village officer. He said necessary changes were also being undertaken in Board of Revenue and the report will be submitted within two weeks in this regard.

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Information & Broadcasting Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan said that Chief Minister Punjab and his whole team deserved felicitation and commendation on initiating the process of bringing reforms in police culture. “A new era has set in and women will no more be exploited in police stations and the complainant will also be given due respect. We will change police and its culture according to the wishes of Pakistani people. The structure of police stations will be changed and police will be restructured and revamped soon”, she told the media persons. 

She said government had provided facility to register online FIRs. She said accountability process within police was also being improved and made more effective. She said 40 thousand police officers and officials had been punished under accountability system.

Inspector General Police said that under a pilot project, cameras had been installed at Hafizabad, Rahim Yar Khan, Sialkot and Mianwali districts. “With the installation of cameras motorcycle theft and other crimes have been significantly reduced”, he said, adding that government was extending the sphere of pilot projects to many other districts.

He said government will provide link to embassies in order to resolve the problems of overseas Pakistanis and the law to formulate committees to settle disputes will be implemented soon. He said government was setting up investigation school in Punjab that would start functioning by December 10. Training ranging from the ranks of ASI to ASP will be imparted in this school, he said.

Arif Nawaz said his department had conducted a study to know about the major public complaints against the police department. He said majority of people complained about police behavior and corruption prevalent in the department.

He said 80 per cent of complaints against police pertained to petty issues like non-registration of FIR and acquisition of documents while 20 per cent were related to crime and theft cases. Of the 20 per cent case, he said, only 5 per cent were related to hardcore crime like murder and dacoity. But despite their lowest ration, these crimes had huge impact on the society, he noted. Arif Nawaz said police reforms focused on improving the system of investigation and prosecution. He said police behavior would be changed through training and special modules would be included in the police syllabus. He said 50 model police stations would also be set up in various district and this model would be replicated in all police stations if found successful. Arif Nawaz said that experts from Harvard and LUMS have been hired to assess the impact of model police stations.  He said police stations would be divided into two components: one section will deal with ordinary issues of public while the operational section would work separately.

Healthcare reforms

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday chaired a high-level meeting in Lahore on the provision of healthcare facilities to the people of Punjab. He emphasized on bringing improvement in the healthcare system. The meeting was attended by Chief Minister Punjab Usman Buzdar, Health Minister Dr Yasmin Rashid, Adviser to Chief Minister Dr Salman Shah, Chief Secretary Punjab and other senior officials.