He stands on one leg, unshaved and unkempt, directing an unfriendly eye at all, who happen to glance his way. Effects of undernourishment make it difficult for him to stand unaided or contrarily, overfeeding manifests itself in a pot belly that spills out obscenely over his trouser belt. The end result in both cases is that he is forced to either loll in a chair or lean against a support. Add to this image, a dirty un-ironed uniform and a cap that is pushed back almost to the back of the head and one has a comprehensive description of a member of our very own police force (not to be confused with the traffic cops) – a force expected to keep citizens safe from harm. The fact is brought home in stark clarity, when army soldiers man security checkpoints along with these custodians of the law. Standing solidly alert on both feet with their weapons ready for instant action, these men in neat combat attire look professionally competent – something that instills a feeling of security and pride amongst all those who pass their way.

There are times, when I experience sentiments of pity for our cops, for the fault lies not with them, but with the culture that prevails in their institutions – a culture that their officers have no desire to redress. While those in charge must share a part of the blame, the main brunt must fall on our politicians, whose personal ambitions have destroyed professional honesty in what could have been one of the pride and joys of Pakistan.

I had in an earlier piece mentioned a document prepared by a competent police officer. This document was called the Abbas Report and clearly pinpointed the cancer plaguing the Police Department and what needed doing to excise it. The report highlighted the fact that politicization of the police force had precipitated a sharp decline in professional standards. It created insecurity and sycophancy, when recruitment was done with political and personal motives and those who dared to book ‘big fish’ or ruling party entities suffered consequences affecting careers and promotions. It bred corruption because of local political sponsorship and protection. It negated the very concept of public service because policemen became demigods, intoxicated with power and protection that they wielded.

Let us take a look at a very tiny sample from our law enforcement canvas – Islamabad, the Federal Capital and its police statistics based on media reports released early this year. If these figures are correct then out of a total number of 10,332 police personnel, 3677 or 39 percent are deployed on VIP security and protocol. This means that a mere 6,655 policemen are available to protect two million residents at a measly ratio of one police official for 300 citizens. One can be sure that if this is the state in the country’s seat of Government, what will be the conditions elsewhere.

The ineptness of the police to create a sense of security is evident from barriers at Islamabad street entrances. These barriers were put up when local police authorities requested house owners to do so, citing their inability to protect them in case of criminal or terrorist activity.

These barriers are now manned by private security companies. This sense of insecurity is further aggravated by police reluctance to register FIRs requested by common citizens. It is only when ‘notice’ is taken by someone powerful that action is initiated.

I see red, whenever I hear or read reports that ‘notice’ of such and such incident has been taken by so and so. This ‘notice’ is nothing less than an indictment of the concerned functionary for negligence of duties imposed upon him or her through public mandate. It is nothing short of an admission that those in charge were asleep at their posts waiting for something to happen, instead of ensuring that such incidents were not allowed to occur in the first place.

So, stuck between politicians and their police, the citizens continue to hope for the day, when they would be able to sleep, content in the knowledge that custodians of law were alert and ready to effectively protect their lives and property.