Policing with passion – a move in the right direction

Book released by police dept highlights efforts—and pitfalls—in attempts to reform the force

Shamim Shahid April 17, 2016

PESHAWAR: Setting the affairs of the force in order and training police officers of every cadre to be approachable is no doubt a hard task. Since long, each government and top cop has claimed the ability to achieve such goals but all failed. Instead of showing improvement, the provincial police force kept declining. The resulting trust deficit between society and the force kept increasing.

It did not help that police personnel would treat civilians as criminal, even terrorists, further widening the gap between the force and the public.

Enter Nasir Khan Durrani – the serving inspector general of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. After he assumed office, Durrani stepped up efforts to get to the goal, an end game his predecessors were unable to achieve. He assumed office when no one was willing to work with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf led coalition government in K-P.  He accepted the challenge when the Kaptan assured him of a free hand. The results of the changing ethos and identity of the police is not something hidden inside deep, bureaucratic chambers. It has been set out for others to read and understand. A book published by the police under Durrani, Policing with passion: Strategic initiatives and institutional reforms in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police 2015-2016, not only highlights successes but also points out shortfalls and problems.

The 18th Amendment provided inroads to framing legislation to achieve better governance but has not been used to its full advantage. However it has helped Durrani achieve the goals he set for the police. Armed with assurances from PTI Chairperson Imran Khan, Durrani has taken steps to reform his team of men and women and to better equip it to do the job within modern parameters. He has also made it possible to make the police answerable to the public.

This is not to say the K-P police force is now perfect; no one is claiming that. Problems remain; entering a police station and getting help is still nigh impossible for most people. Just try talking to a cop and you’ll see.

But I can easily say Durrani has laid a foundation, a foundation made of reforms and restructuring. Now the responsibility rests with the people—those who hold stakes and those who influence the stakes—to implement reforms.

Chinks in the armour

Regardless of what K-P’s rulers say, including Imran and his associates, there remain pockets of evil within the police administration.

Then there is the issue of capacity and capability. The book confesses: “Despite the enormity of the task faced by the police for over a decade, there was no focus on imparting modern specialised training to police personnel.”

It pointed out “the rising gulf between the police and citizens was another big issue.” It suggested decades of corruption in the police lead to the public undermining sacrifices rendered by brave men and women for the country in the ongoing war on terror.

The book points out that “fatigued by the incessant fight against terrorists; alienated by the absence of consultative decisions making and access to the top management; frustrated by the prevalence of corruption and nepotism in transfer/postings and promotions; and demoralised by rising criticism, there was [...] a dire need to boost the morale of these brave and valiant jawans.”

The text goes on to emphasise community engagement in policing or “the strategic framework aimed at winning public trust through better service delivery.” A number of steps including the establishment of cells for complaints, internal accountability, and action against corruption have been initiated to bridge the trust deficit between the force and the people they police.

Needless to say, without the proper implementation of plans which will strengthen and improve the force as highlighted by Policing with passion, no one can ensure law and order will improve in K-P. The provincial government is spending time and resources on security issues but the outcome remains disappointing.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 18th,  2016.

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