Justice is denied when it is not delivered in an even-handed manner by those entrusted with enforcing the law. Last Friday, Sindhs Inspector General of Police himself admitted before the Supreme Court that nearly 30 to 40 percent of appointments in his department are made on the basis of political affiliations. It appears anyone with the required clout can get their favoured ones a job in the police department and that favour is subsequently repaid with acts of omission and commission. In this scenario, questions must be asked about the independence of the police force. The question is whether its members act in accordance with the dictates of the law or their own political connections? This is particularly pertinent in a city like Karachi that has seen over 1,400 people killed in politically motivated violence over the last eight months, with only a handful of the suspected perpetrators being arrested. This shows either the incompetence of the police force or its politicisation, or perhaps both. It is the responsibility of law-enforcement officials to implement the law. But what can one expect from a police force that is fractured along political, ethnic and possibly sectarian lines? A return to the Police Act of 1861 has made matters worse. Officials at the top have lost some of their disciplinary powers and are now subordinate to the provincial home department. This hampers efficient, honest, policing. And the story doesnt end there. For a city of over 15 million people, there are just about 31,000 policemen on hand out of an allocation of 35,000. Of that number, many are cooks, drivers and others who are not part of the operational police force. Huge resources are also eaten away by the rich and powerful who feel that receiving protocol that is in keeping with their status is their right. Order must be restored and a new mechanism for the proper rule of law installed. Reforms in the police department, hand in hand with a proper judicial system, need to be implemented. Until such time, Rangers with policing powers appear to be the only solution. The police must be non-partisan and perceived as such. Policemen and officers whose loyalties lie with one political party or the other are not the answer to Karachis woes. That said, there are honest men and women in the police department. They must be given a chance to prove their credentials and improve the force. The challenges lying ahead may be mighty but they can be met given the implementation of reforms and the enforcement of the rule of law. FAROOQ KHAN, Peshawar, September 16.