LAHORE - Shoaib Dastgir, a grade-21 officer of the Police Service of Pakistan, took over as Punjab Police Inspector General on Thursday, following the abrupt transfer of Arif Nawaz Khan who was posted on the powerful position months ago.

The new police chief is the sixth officer picked up by the present regime to lead the largest law enforcement agency during the last 15 months. The development is part of the recent high-ranking administrative changes ‘being introduced’ to improve governance in the most populated province.

The worsening law and order situation in the province, rampant corruption, and lack of transparency and merit in the transfers and postings of officers are one of the major challenges the newly appointed provincial police officer is facing.

The crime against property appears to be the most worrisome thing for the police as official data reveals record increase in the reported cases in recent months. Police claim they smashed many gangs of criminals by arresting hundreds of suspects but property crimes are still at record high.

Dastgir says 200,000 cops can’t cope with security needs of 110,000,000 people

For an instance, incidents of dacoities, robberies, burglary, auto-lifting, and cattle-theft have increased to an alarming extent during the first eight months of 2019 as compared to the corresponding period of 2018. Apart from big cities, people in small towns and villages are routinely robbed at gunpoint. The crime data depicts a gloomy picture of the worsening law and order situation throughout the province.

According to official statistics, at least 538 incidents of dacoities (involving five or more than five gunmen) were reported by police during the first eight months of this year, as compared to 479 such cases registered during the same period last year. The police submitted challans of 325 cases in courts while 161 cases are still under investigation. Police declared 32 dacoity cases as untraceable.

Similarly, the province witnessed at least 10,761 incidents of armed robberies during the first 8 months of the current year while the police had reported 8,561 armed robberies in 2018. The investigators challaned 5831 cases and 3,678 cases are under investigation. Police also failed to trace 958 cases of armed robberies while 294 cases were cancelled. Not enough, at least 17,500 vehicles were also lifted in eight months from across the province.

A police squad presented traditional salute to the new provincial police officer as he arrived at the central police office on Thursday morning. After assuming the charge of his new assignment, IGP Shoaib Dastgir spoke to media and spelled out his priorities.

He said that 200,000 lawmen of the province cannot provide security to 11 crore population individually but a peaceful environment may be provided to citizens by controlling overall crimes. “Punjab Police will ensure every possible effort with honesty, hard work, and professionalism, he said.

The IGP said that modern projects initiated by the former top police officers will be continued in addition to the new projects to be launched for better performance.

“If someone thinks that he will misuse his powers due to power of uniform then he will not be accepted at any cost,” the IGP warned. He said those officers will remain part of his team who will work in accordance with the policy priorities.

While talking to reporters, the IGP said the concept of state of Madina could not be achieved within one or two days. Basically, he said, it is the concept of welfare state where equal implementation of law and protection to citizens with justice will be imparted and Punjab Police will adopt this guideline for the line of action. He said police are facing many challenges with regard to up-gradation of training system, deficit in available resources, and maintaining law and order. “We shall take steps to strengthen professionalism, ensure merit and environment of trust between public and police,” he pledged.