Please don’t hurt me, Mr Policeman!
The inefficiency and corruption of our police force has turned into a joke - and unfortunately, it’s not a funny one for those at the receiving end: the citizens.
A couple of days back, I asked a friend if police checks made him feel safer in Karachi, a ‘vibrant’ city to say the least. He said no. While I thought the conversation had ended, a few seconds later he asked:
“What sort of a stupid question is that? Have you never been stopped by them?”
That got me thinking. The inefficiency and corruption of our police force has in fact turned into a joke - though unfortunately, it’s not a funny one for those at the receiving end: the citizens of Pakistan.
Over the next few days, I asked many people the same ‘stupid’ question. Not one of them responded in the positive and answers ranged from a simple, emphatic “No!” to “It takes some getting used to. After you are stopped a few times you learn the drill.”
Personal experience suggests that ‘being stopped by the cops’ is uniform all across the country - and regardless of whether one is involved in a misdemeanour or not.
Given the fact that terrorists are increasingly targeting the civilian population, one would expect the most visible of the law-enforcement agencies to realign its priorities and focus on some of the more ‘real’ problems.
While many point out that junior officers are poorly paid and poorly educated, because of which their efficiency and integrity is affected, what about the senior officials who only qualify after clearing the highly-competitive civil services examination and a stringent screening process?
Who is responsible for coming up with an actual strategy to reduce crime? Even though the popular notion seems to be that the best way to do this is to bolster police presence through ‘nakas’ and ‘gashts’, many studies on the topic have uncovered little empirical evidence to back this claim. In fact, it is time we realise that not only are they not working, they are also a source of harassment for the public.