LAHORE Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaaf Chief Imran Khan while addressing a mammoth rally here at Minar-i-Pakistan on last Sunday spoke at length on various issues ranging from foreign policy to corruption, bad governance to electoral change and tax collection to police reforms. He pointed out that the police reforms were badly needed to ensure provision of justice in the corruption-riddled society. While elaborating his manifesto, he said that his party would depoliticise police in order to improve its working. But the $64,000 question (million-dollar question) is, can anyone really depoliticise the police department in Pakistan? At present, the provincial government in Punjab, no matter who is running, is actually formulate all the policies related to policing, orders postings and transfers, and implement policy of pick-and-chose to run the day-to-day working. The police officers from the rank of Inspector General of Police to Constable are posted on different positions at someones recommendation. Like previous ones, the Chief Minister Punjab Mian Shahbaz Sharif recommends the posting of the IGP of his own choice and even he himself interviews the officers for this purpose. All the officers of the ranks of Deputy Inspector General of Police (DIG) and District Police Officers (DPO) are also transferred and posted on his directions. Not enough, Punjab Law Minister Rana Sana Ullah had recently stated in a TV talk show that to get the officers of their choice posted as SHOs is the right of the MNAs and MPAs (public representatives). During an informal chat with different police officers and subordinates, it was learnt that all the officers and officials in the Punjab province are transferred and posted on the direction of influential persons. Frankly, these influential persons include top politicians, bureaucrats and even different pressure groups. It is interesting to mention here that the police officers serving on key posts in Central Punjab are the favourites of the PML-N, the ruling political party in Punjab, while many officers working in Southern Punjab particularly Multan division, the native town of the Prime Minister, are posted on the intervention of the federal government to accommodate the leaders of PPP. Believe it or not, almost 90 per cent policemen in Punjab dont enjoy good reputation. They, time and again, are suspended and dismissed from their services on different charges ranging from corruption to misuse of power and criminal negligence to highhandedness. But they are accordingly reinstated again on the intervention of political leaders or pressure groups. Only those officers and officials in police are punished, according to the law, who lack powerful links. Many officials, during background discussions, were of the view that the entire mess-up in the police is due to the political interference in the matters related to the postings of and transfers of policemen. This is like an open secret that when Chaudhry Pervaiz Elahi was the Chief Minister of Punjab province, his son Moonis Elahi used to 'issue the orders of the transfers and postings of DSPs and other officers. Now this job is being done by Hamza Shahbaz, MNA and the son of the Chief Minister in Lahore, and Abdul Qadir Gilani, MPA and the son of Prime Minister, in Southern Punjab. Security experts say that in order to improve the working of the police force and to change Thana culture, political interference in the police must be stopped once for all. But this is not an easy job. Even Imran Khan, said to be blue-eyed of those who matter in Pakistans policymaking, cannot do this. He can introduce a new police force to replace it but he cannot reform the existing one due to one or another reason. Chief Minister Punjab Shahbaz Sharif, as a case in point, has badly failed to deliver on this front. He is CM of the largest province of the country for the last more than three years but he has totally failed as far as improvement in the police working or change in Thana culture is concerned.