ISLAMABAD-Developing a workable public complaints response mechanism, taking measures to improve quality of investigation and result and enhancing the effectiveness of the criminal justice system through introducing legislative measures are the major agenda points for police reforms, said Dr. Muhammad Raheem Awan, Secretary Law and Justice Commission of Pakistan, during a webinar the other day.

It was 12th and the last webinar of the series ‘Police Media Sath Sath’ arranged by Communications Research Strategies (CRS) here in Islamabad. The campaign focused on sustaining the momentum created by ‘Police Awam Sath Sath,’ a broader initiative working around police advocacy and reforms for a few years now. Webinar provided an inclusive space for important stakeholders from media, civil society and academia to exchange and consolidate reform ideas. Dr Raheem further emphasised on the role of the media in implementing these reforms in true spirit.

“A comprehensive legislative revision of police laws is the only natural solution to overcome variety of crisis faced by our Police in being at par with international standards,” said Imran Shaukat, DIG Sindh Police, while sharing his experience of working with Scotland Yard, New York Police Department and United Nations. “It is foremost for civil society to step up and play its role in combining all the positive forces working on reform agenda,” added DIG Imran Shaukat while acknowledging needs for such projects.

Former Additional IG, Capt. ® Tahir Naveed responded to the skepticism and critique of the journalist community and said, “Criticising government and reform efforts is an important task of the media however it would be futile exercise without due appreciation of good work carried out by the police and related departments.”

Faheem Siddiqi, a renowned TV anchor/bureau head said, “We keep listening about talks on reforms which is heartening, but we must not forget that realities are harsh and only a well-rounded effort from media and strong intent from government can tackle the situation.” 

Qazi Hasaan, Imtiaz Chandio and Raffat Saeed, bureau heads of known TV channels (Dawn News, Abb Takk News and Aaj TV respectively), appreciated the reforms effort of government and civil society but not without acknowledging the ground realities that still have immense potential to harm ongoing recovery and reform efforts. Banking on years of experience, they all agreed regarding the importance of political influence that has been impeding the transparent police performance since decades. Senior journalist Qazi Asif stressed that the Police should be accountable to the community instead of being influenced by the political expediencies. Senior reporters Uzma Alkareem and Umaima Malik highlighted how the majority of women in Pakistan are fearful of going to police stations and why it has been considered as a ‘disrespectful experience’ in our society. “Until we change these traditional dynamics between police and masses, we can only witness nominal interventions regarding inclusion of women in police,” both contributed.

Syed Munawar Alam, a journalist and Secretary Sindh Assembly Reporters Association, elaborated the structural and functional obstructions faced by law making bodies in a way of introducing long-awaited reforms. 

Zafarullah Khan, a senior development sector professional, moderated the session and encouraged all participants to become part of the diverse network that can continue working around the police reforms. To complement these efforts, Aniq Zafar, CEO of CRS, encouraged participants to report on positive stories around police so they can be part of the story competition launched almost a month ago to create a synergy that potentially can consolidate all the sporadic reform efforts into a sustainable movement. “I am happy to inform you that we have successfully created a nationwide network of key media houses, academia and dynamic civil society to cover and sustain the police reforms from every aspect.”