Compared to the decrease in terrorist incidents in 2018, 2019 has experienced a resurgence in such activity. Keeping the current state of Pakistan’s economy in mind, it is expected that petty crime will also increase and therefore, strategies to counter the threat should be revisited. Measures that can be adopted to tackle the situation should include the integration of community policing (CP) in organizational strategy and elimination of the trust deficit between the police and community. Such measures are either not being implemented properly or fall short of the desired standard adopted globally.

CP consists of law enforcement which is based on public trust and sustainable relationships between law enforcement and the community. It involves cooperation between the police and the community for identification, prevention and resolution of problems in society. A national study by David Schanzer from Duke University has revealed that almost half of policing agencies in United States have adopted CP strategies, particularly for communities at risk of terrorism. Additionally, the United Nations has also utilized elements of CP in its peacekeeping and police forces to facilitate investigations pertaining to terrorism operations in host countries. It is therefore crucial to recognize the role the community can play in providing intelligence which can be used for thwarting terrorist operations and identification of terrorist hideouts. The following example illustrates how the community can be useful for such purposes.

In April 2019, a joint police-military operation took place in Hayatabad, Peshawar which led to a total of 7 casualties, leaving 5 terrorists dead and two policemen martyred. The interesting aspect of this operation was that the local community’s efforts exposed the terrorists’ hideout. The operation had been initiated following the receipt of confidential information that suspected terrorists had been residing in an accommodation in Hayatabad. With pertinent information shared by local residents and eye witnesses, the armed forces were able to conduct this operation which resulted in the capture of suspects that had been accused of attacking members of the judiciary and Assistant Inspector General of Police (AIG) in the province. The success of this operation demonstrates that the community can play an integral role in bringing such information to law enforcement agencies and preventing terrorist attacks. However, such a model relies upon the level of trust the community has in law enforcement agencies. A survey by Gallup Pakistan conducted in May 2014, on a sample of 2,679 males, revealed that 24% of Pakistanis have no trust in police; 49% have very little trust in police and the remaining 27% substantially trust the police. Therefore, it is necessary that initiatives which eliminate the trust deficit between the police and citizens of Pakistan should be launched in order to make use of the CP model.

There is legislative basis for CP in Pakistan’s domestic legal framework. The Police Order of 2002 formed Citizen Police Liaison Committees (CPLC) under Section 168. It was aimed that these autonomous, self-financing bodies would bridge the distance between citizens and the police by way of liaising mechanisms and providing assistance to the police. CPLC is a non-political statutory institution, independently operated and managed by private citizens. Created to counter the insecurity and high crime in the late 1980s, around 85 per cent of its funding is generated from members of the business community. CPLC was later institutionalized via an amendment vide notification to the Police Rules in 1990, given a charter in 1996, and later approved in 2003. Up till 2015, more than 1300 cases of kidnapping for ransom had been resolved by CPLC and it continues to provide support to law enforcement agencies. CPLC also manages extensive crime databases in Karachi, as well as raising awareness and public safety programs for the general public which has enhanced the trust that the people of Karachi place in Police.

At the Federal level, Citizen Police Coordination Committees (CPCCs) were established on the directive of the Federal Minister of Interior in 2013. However, the initiative faced financial constraints and did not involve conducting community consultation sessions. As a result, the project lacked community connectivity and a focus on community awareness needs and priorities. The failure of such initiatives demonstrates that the strategy to be adopted for such a model to be a success needs to be well formulated and should take into account the community’s needs.

Although the needs and priorities of every community are different, four broad stages can be identified that provide a framework for CP models to be structured on. These stages are: preparatory, implementation, evaluation, and finally modification and expansion. The first (preparatory) stage involves relationship-building with the community (businesses, NGOs, governmental agencies), while the second (implementation) phase involves utilizing these relationships for CP outcomes. In the first stage efforts are made to better understand community context in order to determine concerns and priorities accordingly. In the second (implementation) phase, the organization should prioritize openness and transparency, allowing the police to be more responsive to the needs of the community, building confidence in the process. Moreover, providing appropriate training and ensuring inter-agency cooperation is essential in formulating effective strategies. The third (evaluation) stage involves the analysis of programme design, response and the impact within a certain time period. An important aspect of these evaluations is factoring in public opinion and incorporating the views of the community as stakeholders in assessing the result of implementing CP practices. This leads to the final stage of modification/expansion of the programme based on a comprehensive review of all activities and stakeholder feedback.

CPLC’s model in Sindh has been extremely effective in providing the community with a sense of safety and bridging the gap between the police and locals of Karachi. Despite the advantages of community policing it does not form part of the organizational strategy of the police in other provinces in Pakistan and the plan for such initiatives lack sustainability and foresight. The Inspector General of Police, Islamabad has recently stated that community centers should be utilized for the purpose of CP. In order to ensure sustainability a holistic strategy based on the framework mentioned above needs to be adopted keeping the successes of the Sindh model in mind.A