In our military and police telecommunication systems, various cover names and words are used as call signs to keep the working and functioning of the systems confidential for security purposes. However, certain call signs, especially, in the UK and US colonial systems, are global and, therefore, an open secret for all those uniformed personnel working under such a legacy. Not surprisingly, Pakistan, too, is no exception in this regards, inter alia.

Sometimes, such call signs are clearly received and understood but sometimes distorted by some unknown ‘noise’ called ‘distortion’ in terms of mass communication resulting into communication gap or a loss of feedback showing that message has not been received or understood calling for its repetition by the receiver to the sender.

The question arises whether the loud and clear message can, somehow, be termed as ‘not received or received but not understood?’ For instance, the US has been sending Pakistan certain messages in the context of the war against terrorism but simultaneously alleging the latter to have although received the message but not understood for the reasons best known to the latter, therefore, calling for ‘do more.’ Thus, messaging and the feedback in Pak-US communication systems has always been a matter of concern for both the nations from their relevant point of views.

Similarly, reforms in policing systems in Pakistan have always been a matter of concern not only for the previous governments but also for the new government. The three Ps - Police, Public and Politicians have been its major stakeholders. However, all of them have ever been on conflicting terms with each other on the points of status quo, change and the dominance over political electoral, respectively. Therefore, it can be said here that the message is received loud and clear by all but not understood intentionally.

 Roger is a call sign used by the forces in their radio telecommunication systems amongst themselves to pass on that the message is not only received but also understood. But does it necessarily mean that the understanding of the message is acknowledged but its redressal is not commuted properly to the situation where the shoe actually pinches? Unfortunately, the reply is in negative.

‘Roger’ has always been the quick reply to the calls from the government ‘wireless controls’ but has not been responded properly for various reasons relying upon the maxim ‘quick response, reaction slow.’

Various schools of thought have well-founded reasons behind this failure. One school of thought believes that those new political parties and governments which have no locus standi for their legitimate mandate are in a dire need to devise such strategies which merely address to their critique of their predecessor governments and therefore to have something new to show the public that innovations are being brought about in the redundant policing systems where their predecessors had desperately and criminally neglected regardless of any meaningful change.

Another, identical school of thought controverts to the extent that no doubt even such governments not only desire real changes in the policing systems to deliver in the public interest but also justify their arrival and stay in the power. However, their abrupt or unplanned rise to the corridors of powers sans any pre-conceived policies, strategies and even the skilled executive human resource renders them handicapped to pick up such pseudo- experienced, upright and efficient technocrats which actually have fallen redundant and obsolete to the emerging needs of the society.

Yet another school of thought which believes that although certain devoted, effective and efficient technocrats are certainly available but they would not be picked up for their lack of equation and lobbying with the top political leadership which obviously requires long strenuous following of the politicians on their toes even at the cost of their self-respect which they obviously cannot lose for the portfolios which being trivial do not mean anything to them actually.  They would sometimes also be dragged back to the back benches for having been downtrodden due to their independent and meritorious work done in the previous regimes which was not actually desired or likened by the latter. Such people also then get aloof and abandon themselves to the low profiles so as to protect their self-respect in preference to the meritorious work which they are abundantly capable of doing in the largest public interest. 

The political leadership hinted at by the first school of thought is more interested in abrupt changes to acquire place in the public promptly no matters the consequences of the newly devised policy are vanished or frustrated after a short period of six months or a year which is an ample time for our people to easily forget in our culture. For instance, at the beginning of the first decade of the 20s, the police department was dissected into two wings-operations and the investigations- with much more funds, paraphernalia and the lower and high staff with a great number of seats created for the executive posts.  But who could evaluate and monitor the performance of the new systems except to celebrate that the government had successfully launched a new device to the old problems? The question as to whether the conviction rate under the new investigation system has improved or not and whether the prevention of crime has been successfully attained or not under the new operating systems still requires a tangible answer. What we see is that the same slot of technocrats which brought about these changes regardless of any substantial results working with various governments of PPP, PMLN and the Musharaf regime starting from the mid-90s down to the 2018 is still being occupied with little changes to devise, revise or revert the changes already brought about by themselves or by their like-minded contemporaries. Whereas, we need fresh blood to beat the old challenges; we need innovators, not the traditionalists to beat the traditions; we need social activist from the development sectors, not the monotonous professionals who are prone to succumb to whims of their fellows with whom they have spent lives and are ultimate to protect the system they have lived in. Admittedly, some of them might be valuable in view of their experience and anti-status quo stance towards the department but ideally, its blend with the fresh developmental spirit and approach may work diversely and effectively in the public interest. This was, however, conversely observed in the case of the district management subsequently abortive proving their officer’s slogans that ‘they would bounce back’.

Summarily, any initiative taken for the betterment of policing in Pakistan has to be taken with utmost caution. It has to be analysed and seen in the indigenous perspective of various areas and districts of the provinces well before it is launched. Whether conversion of multi-colour uniforms to a single one, a division of work into multiple shifts of two or three SHOs and all other wings working under him are the real issues or merely the non-issues exhausting time and the energies of the human resource and deviation from the core work.

Whether, the true socio-developmental work, genuine community policing and participatory approach, especially by the youth will not help reduce the criminal tendencies in the society and prevent the crime before it is committed? Whether, professional skills, modern techniques of investigation with non-traditional investigators will not help collect cogent evidence against the offenders and legalisation of encounters leading towards high conviction rate and deterrence in the society. Whether the supervisory officers should not be given statutory investigational authority tied to accountability instead of the ‘tired’ traditional investigators from the lower ranks? Our peculiar genetics working behind the commission of a crime need peculiar treatment suitable to them woven indigenously with a blend of imported successful experiences but not necessarily imported altogether. We need ‘Roger’ not only to be understood but to be understood and mended correctly.


The columnist