There is a widespread acceptance that the police forces across the country are corrupt and inept, riddled with nepotistic appointments and politicised to the point of irrelevance. The police will lie and cheat, use torture and random violence as they go about their business and are viewed in general as unworthy of respect. Few are ever prosecuted for their crimes and misdemeanours. Most, if found out, are quietly shifted elsewhere, or placed on ‘special duties’ for an indeterminate period, usually until the dust has settled and they can resume their criminal activities. Occasionally their activities surface, and the recent revelation that over a dozen policemen were involved in cases of kidnapping in the last year and 10 of them have been booked, is particularly disturbing. It cannot be assumed that Karachi is the only the city police force thus engaged.
The abuses of power are blatant and open, such is the culture of impunity that protects corrupt police. Last November, police kidnapped three men using police vans and held them for ransom at the police station. A case has been registered against the corrupt offenders but that is as far as it has got and there seems to be no expectation of a successful prosecution. In other instances, police have posed as members of the Counter Terrorism Department (which is itself investigating cases of kidnapping by police officers) and some of those accused say that others more senior than themselves were the real guilty parties. These cases are not going to be isolated. Kidnapping for ransom is rife across the country and the police are in an ideal position to carry out such crimes — and get away with them. Senior officers are of course quick to deny their involvement and lay the blame elsewhere but the fact remains that these latest revelations further erode public confidence in the police. The ongoing operation in Karachi is going to do nothing in the long term to affect the internal culture of the police. That would require a root-and-branch re-organisation that none of the political parties have the stomach for. Dirty policing is going to be with us for years to come.
Published in The Express Tribune, April 16th, 2016.
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