Senior Punjab Police officers have called for the uniform of Excise and Taxation Department enforcement staff to be changed “for security reasons” as it is too similar to the police uniform, The Express Tribune has learnt.
Saddar SP Captain (retired) Liaqat Ali Malik has written a letter to DIG (Operations) Rai Tahir saying that the similarities in uniform are a cause for confusion among the public and could potentially be exploited in a security situation. He suggested that the Excise and Taxation (E&T) uniform be changed. He said that E&T officials who set up pickets on the road were usually mistaken for police officials.
SP Malik said that E&T impersonators were not reported because the public would just mistake them for police impersonators. He complained that E&T personnel who extorted bribes from members of the general public were mistaken for the police. He said that just as no organisation was allowed to have a uniform like the army uniform, no organisation or department should be allowed to have a uniform similar to the police uniform.
Senior police officials said that the E&T uniforms could be changed under the Police Order of 2002. Article 131(1) of the Order reads: “If the Provincial Police Officer or the Capital City Police Officer or the City Police Officer is satisfied that the wearing in public, by any member of any body, association or organisation, of any dress or article of apparel resembling the uniform worn by police or members of the Armed Forces or any uniformed force constituted by or under any law for the time being in force, is likely to prejudice the security of the state or the maintenance of public order, he may by a special order prohibit or restrict the wearing or display, in public of any such dress or article of apparel by any member of such body or association or organisation.”
A senior police officer said that there was no coordination between the E&T force and the police. “They do not tell us where and when they will set up pickets. It is very easy to impersonate an E&T official and it is almost impossible for the police to verify their identity,” he said.
Excise and Taxation Department Director General Syed Ahmad Nawaz said that there was no need to change the uniform. He said that there had been no reported security breaches or incidents caused by E&T impersonators.
E&T Director Amjad Waraich said that the department had an enforcement staff of 1,700 constables and inspectors and there had not been a single complaint against them. He said that the police were uncooperative and would dissuade E&T personnel from setting up pickets in their areas. He said that the E&T uniform had a distinctive badge and its shoulder pips were five-sided, as opposed to the three-sided pips on the police uniform.
An SHO said that there were other uniforms similar to security uniforms. He said that University of Engineering and Technology guards wore a uniform similar to the police, while guards at Bagh-i-Jinnah wore a black shalwar kameez like several security forces. He said some private security guards wore black t-shirts and khaki pants, similar to the Muhafiz Squad uniform.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 15th, 2012.