Nawaz Sharif’s visit to the Capital Police Office, Lahore was punctuated by the city’s roads coming to a standstill, as a result of the VIP motorcade’s journey across the city. His inauguration of the digital system service spells a new era of policing efforts in the province – at least the ruling party seems to think so. But in reality, the digitisation of Punjab Police may end up falling well short of expectations – the ultimate objective of cleaning up the police force goes beyond merely digitising its operational aspects.

Record management at police stations, reviewing records while on duty outside the station, automated attendance systems and fingerprint scanning are some of the improvements to the existing police structure that the PML-N has implemented for Punjab Police to carry out its duties more effectively. But is this nearly enough to clean-up a force that performs its duties diligently, but is often hampered by problems such as a lack of funding, corruption and investigative failures? It is important to remember that the digitisation process will only be functional in major cities, at least initially. The condition of the police in Lahore is vastly superior when compared to other areas in the province.

There needs to be greater transparency in funds dissemination to help prevent corruption – all police stations must get their due share to ensure that police work is being carried out smoothly. Police officers must be paid properly; many put their lives on the line on a daily basis for little reward or recognition for their services. Crime mapping must be carried out with more diligence – areas with high crime rates should be observed more carefully and police stations in these regions must get the necessary funds to ensure that corrupt practices are eliminated and to ensure that police officers can actually carry out their duties without having to beg borrow and steal in their efforts to do their jobs right. There is a reason behind one-third of the police force being charged with allegations of corruption in 2015; while many of those might have been genuinely corrupt, a lack of information on the rules and having to bend the rules to carry out their duties could also be a reason as to why so many police officers toe the line and sometimes even cross it. The cause for this entrenched corruption and misappropriation of funds is well-known, unless the PML-N addresses these concerns, no amount of digitisation will be enough to overhaul the Punjab Police.