LAHORE It was perhaps for the first time in the history of the Punjab police that an officer not less than the rank of DIG appeared before the news media at the Provincial Police Headquarters last week and said, Yes, the police staged a fake encounter in Lahore and gunned down a robber. Referring to the incident in the Nishtar Colony police limits in which the polices bullets claimed the life of the 23-year-old man hours after the locals captured him and handed him over to the police for interrogation, DIG Maj (retd) Mubashir revealed that the inquiry into the 'extrajudicial killing had been initiated on the orders of the Inspector General of Police Javed Iqbal. The accused cops have been arrested and are being investigating, with top cops promising no recurrence of such incidents, DIG Mubashir had further said. Some police officers believe that the IGP extremely disliked extrajudicial killings and police torture. This not only brings a bad name to the Force, but also is a serious 'criminal offense, they said. The 57-year-old Javed Iqbal had joined the Police Service of Pakistan in 1976 as an ASP, and during his tenure he has served on many key positions including his most recent (prior to becoming IGP) of Managing Director of the National Police Foundation, which is housed in Islamabad. He has also served as IG of the AJK, Additional DG (Crimes) of the FIA and Joint DG Intelligence Bureau in Sindh. He has spent most of his career in Sindh. Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif strongly recommended his name to lead the Punjab police, the second largest force in the country, expecting he was the man who could deliver on multiple fronts (from crime control to eliminating corruption, reforming the Thana culture to speedy justice and improving law and order situation to boosting morale of the Force). However, right now the ground reality speaks volumes about the policing in Punjab, where corruption is flourishing within the department, the crime graph is going out of control. There is no denying the fact that even Chief Ministers untiring efforts have bore little result viz-a-viz change in the Thana Culture, aimed at rooting out corruption in the police department. Only last week, the robbers gunned down a 50-year-old woman on resistance during a mugging attempt in Samanabad. The ill-fated victim was on a stroll near her residence. Only in Lahore, gangsters killed at least 28 persons on putting up resistance during armed robberies during the last couple of months. Not enough, house robberies, kidnappings for ransom, auto-lifting, and illegal detentions by the police are order of the day here in the town. What to say about soft policing when the policemen are staging fake encounters and deciding the fate of the gangsters at their own, no matter the courts are open with independent judiciary. It is learnt that the IGP has started secret overhaul in the department by separating the efficient and honest policemen from the corrupt and incompetent. Since assuming his new charge, IG Javed Iqbal has been busy in introducing reforms in the police department, with accountability, merit and discipline being his top priority. He has introduced several initiatives and struggling hard to reform the typical Thana culture. For instance, to combat terrorism, the Elite Police Force is being re-organized; to maintain discipline in the police Force, departmental action has been taken against no less than 300 officers; and a state-of-the-art forensic lab for investigation purposes will be made functional by the end of this month. It seemed that instead of relying only on human intelligence, the top bigwigs have decided to explore modern techniques to unearth the criminals. But the police high-ups should also be out in the field to get the first-hand information about crimes instead of sitting inside their fortified offices and relying only on traditional instructions to their subordinates like setting up pickets, carrying out snap checking, and search operations. Police pickets always provide good opportunity to the cops to mint money in the name of body search and checking of documents of private vehicles. If the IGP is really keen to overhaul the Punjab police, he must not bow before political pressure and continue transparent accountability within the department.