State institutions of Pakistan are undergoing an evolutionary process; be it judiciary, National Accountability Bureau (NAB) or the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP). Our judiciary is taking up cases which have always been avoided in the past either in the guise of ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ or in the veil of some other reason. NAB is also taking action against those who are involved in corruption and misuse of public offices. This action is going on without any discrimination between the common and the noble, members of government or opposition. The political influence on different institutions of Pakistan has started fading away and their journey towards betterment has resumed. But there is one sector which is ignored by the PTI government after coming into power and that is Police force. Even though it was a signature achievement of the PTI during the past five years while running Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the party secured a large number of votes on the slogan that KP style reforms would also be brought into Punjab Police.

Apparently, it seems there is no headway to these reforms because the government has a lot bigger challenges to face – economy, inflation, unemployment etc. But still the government can’t ignore these reforms because the police department, due to its role of maintaining law and order in the society, has direct access to the common masses. This department has been bestowed with special powers enabling it to perform its duties in an appropriate manner. Those powers come to them with a responsibility to exercise them within defined parameters and legal framework.

What are the major reasons which have alienated the police from their basic responsibilities? Why have the people lost their faith on police and their involvement in any matter makes people insecure? Why a civil force which is supposed to enforce the law, prevent and solve crimes and maintain public order and safety can dare to directly fire at innocent and unarmed citizens? Spine chilling Sahiwal tragedy, Intizar Ahmed who was gunned down by Anti Car Lifting Cell (ACLC) in Karachi, Naqeeb Ullah Mehsud was picked up by Karachi police and later killed and Model Town tragedy in which 14 innocent people lost their lives are some of the examples. Why the element of humanity and courtesy is missing from their conduct? What can be the solutions of all these problems which can enable the police to effectively fulfil their responsibilities and how the illegitimate use of power can be curtailed?

There are numerous reasons for all the issues but one major one is the political intervention. Our police force is so much politicised that it has taken away their realisation of their fundamental duties. When politicians start using the police for their personal vested interests, it indirectly affects the performance of this department. The department should be depoliticised and any influential person or politician who tries to use this civil force for personal vested interests should be condemned. On an immediate basis, the government should work to free this force from the holds of local politicians by setting rules and regulations. The high command official should also pass special instruction that any case based on any personal interests would not be entertained. The KPK government has taken this initiative which is bearing fruits.

The lack of regular training and refresher courses of the force is another reason. Our force is neither fully equipped nor gets the modern training to handle different situations, especially to cope with the furious mob. They perhaps know only one way and that is to use force while dispersing the mobsters. In the absence of modern training they generally use deadly firearms rather than employing non-lethal tactics to disperse the crowd. It emphasizes the need of professional, ethical and moral training which is essential for this department, besides equipping them with non-lethal arms which could be used while dealing with the law violators. This will inculcate an element of courtesy in the general behaviour of the regular policeman along with abilities to investigate and dispense justice to the aggrieved party.

Besides, it is an open secret that police force in Punjab and in the other provinces is less than sufficient. The government should also pay heed to it and should recruit more cops. It will not only help to reorganise the department on modern lines but will also discourage the trend of long working hours. Such steps will be helpful for the police personals to perform their duty with diligence and dedication. The extended duties of the personnel affect the overall performance of the police department.

Special attention should be given to the fitness. Most of our police officers are over-weight and don’t pay heed to their fitness. Strict rules coupled with incentives can motivate them to remain physically fit.

For smooth functioning an effective regulatory mechanism or accountability system is pertinent for the police department. A regulatory body which can control the police behaviour and its actions also ensuring their due performance within the bounds of law is obligatory. The said body will prevent the rouge officers from misusing or abusing their office and at the same time it will prevent political influence over the department. It will increase the integrity of police, deter misconduct, and will enhance public confidence in this department.

There should also be a public complain body to deal with public grievances and complaints against police officials. This body should be accessible to everyone and should also be fully capable to investigate allegations and of taking disciplinary actions against police officers.

All these recommendations are purely meant to improve the performance of police department and regain public confidence over the department. It doesn’t mean to discredit and sacrifices of these brave men working 24/7 for the public. These reforms will only be hard for corrupt and rogue elements in the force that bring bad name for the whole department. New uniform can change the appearance of police but the real change can only be brought by improving the system.