Several lawmakers in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa have raised their voice against the provincial Police Act of 2017. This sudden impetus to oppose police brutality and actions beyond the powers accorded according to the law does not come from witnessing scenes of the police thrashing innocent university teachers, however. It instead stems from the experiences of lawmakers of dealing with the police themselves.
The fact that public representatives brought this issue to the floor of the house now only when they dealt with something that the average citizen contends with on a daily basis indicates that the problem is by no means novel.
There has been a culture of the local policeman taking many undue liberties; the complaints and redressal mechanisms available to the public are simply not sufficient. A noted difference in the past though, was that the Chief Minister or government functionaries could intervene after public outcry. This is no longer the case.
However, having to wait for the CM to step in is not ideal either. Instead of looking to roll back changes made in hopes of removing political interference, the government should take the next step and look to counter the problem of police taking the law into their own hands. All problems with law enforcement are not one and the same. The example of the US is clear for all to see—there is little demonstratable political interference but a heavy incidence of police brutality.
There are steps that the government can take without having to bring the police back under political control. An obvious one is to allow for both body and patrol unit cameras to become the norm—no police officer in the country should be without them. Many studies have shown that law enforcement officials are likely to stay within the bounds of the law as long as there is documentable evidence of their actions.
This would be a costly venture but one we need to get behind. Police brutality affects everyone, but those without political power do not even have the recourse to bring this to light for those that can actually bring about change.