Heated arguments, reshuffling of personnel and interdepartmental feuds threaten to overshadow government initiatives to reform the police force in Punjab—a major objective highlighted in their electoral campaign. If revamping this institution is a priority then the government needs to go above and beyond to ensure that systemic issues are eliminated through a comprehensive understanding about what efficient functionality entails.

In light of the recent criticism that the Lahore police invited after the motorway rape incident, there has been additional scrutiny on the provincial capital’s police. At a time when the expectations from the ruling party are high, there can be no room for mistakes. Infighting within the police force makes it controversial and takes away from the attempts to improve or inculcate transparency.

For months, the PTI government has been looking to find the perfect leader for Punjab police—resulting in five Inspector Generals (IGs) within the span of two years. Lahore Police has made the headlines for all the wrong reasons in the last few months as well. The answer here then, does not lie in reshuffling constantly or having to deal with interdepartmental tensions. Constant interventions by the provincial government only implies that the police are incapable of acting as an autonomous institution. The objective here should be to create a framework that empowers the police and allows them to focus on self-improvement.

In order to fix perception, prevent interdepartmental conflict and revert attention back to critical solutions, there needs to be an independent selection process based on seniority from within the force. Then, the likelihood of highly publicised fights and negative publicity relating to a potential lack of professionalism or question of meritocratic ability decreases substantially.

These are the sort of reforms the provincial government must look towards, instead of getting bogged down in petty squabbles and the constant headache of choosing the ‘right’ leader.