The public, politicians, bureaucracy and the judiciary are not happy with the performance of our police. There are many reasons for this state of affairs: historical, political, social, organisational, etc. Many critics lay the blame on the departmental hierarchy for police ineffectiveness in controlling crime, while others put the blame on politicians who abuse the police for their own political and personal ends. This blame game, however, leads nowhere. After independence, well-meaning governments for police reforms appointed many commissions and committees. Pervez Musharraf who tasked Lt-General (Retd) Naqvi, Chairperson of the National Reconstruction Bureau (NRB), to draft a new police law, took the last serious initiative. Mr Naqvi, with intellectual input from selected senior police officers, prepared the Police Order 2002 to give an accountable and operationally independent police to the country. The powerful provincial bureaucracy, who wanted to keep the police under their thumb, mostly for ceremonial purposes, did not accept this law. In the service also, some officers did not accept the law wholeheartedly because they were trained and groomed to work with the magistracy in dealing with public disorder situations. On top of it, amendments introduced by the Musharraf government under pressure from interested quarters made the Police Order toothless in the domain of accountability. Although the Police Order 2002 led to expansion and promotions in the department, it did not produce the desired results for the public.
Now the Punjab bureaucracy wants to bring in a new police order. Other provinces will follow Punjab. According to Dr A H Nadeem, the proposed law will bring the police under complete bureaucratic control and the public will again be left high and dry.
For the provincial bureaucracy, controlling the police is more important than crime control and peace. Today the police is facing unique challenges; the present policing system is not geared toward coping with terrorism and extremism. As a matter of fact, the bureaucratic system, including the police, inherited from the colonial rulers, has become irrelevant, corrupt and inefficient. Under these circumstances, there is a dire need for police reforms. Administrative reforms should take place through debates, discussions and research at public forums, think tanks, media and assemblies. All stakeholders, including the judiciary, should be taken on board in order to bring about police reforms. The nation needs an efficient, effective, accountable and operationally independent police.
ASGHAR MAHMOOD,
Islamabad, August 9.