LAHORE: The drizzle on Tuesday and dropping temperatures have left policemen with a wardrobe dilemma as they are yet to receive the jackets or jerseys, which go with their new olive green uniform, to counter the cold.
The drafty situation comes on the coattails of them having to perform duties in the stifling smog.
Rain on Tuesday dropped the temperature to 16 degrees Celsius and the forecast states that it could go down further to 10-11 degrees Celsius.
Winter is fast coming, but police officials, especially those on field duty, are facing great difficulty finding the appropriate protective wear.
The powers that be in the force have approved the design and colour of the new jacket, but are yet to begin the procurement process. Even if the jackets are procured in the coming week, it would take weeks to distribute them among the 1.6 million officers across the 32 districts and nine ranges, officials feared.
There have also been several reports of policeman falling ill and being admitted to hospitals due to the cold and smog.
When asked about the plan to fight the cold without the right gear, Constable Iftikhar says officers will wear the jackets provided with the old uniform.
ASI Ashraf, on the other hand, states that members of the force are feeling less cold with the onset of winter this year as the olive green uniform has a thicker material. He continues that wearing a vest, undershirt and upper helps maintain body temperature. However, he fears this attire will not be enough once the weather turns harsh.
Ghulam Rabbani, another police officer, says he has not afforded a thought to the dropping temperature as yet. He intends to follow in his colleagues’ footprints or wait for action from senior officers.
Punjab Police Spokesperson Nayab Haider said there is no delay in the procurement or delivery of the uniform. “The process is going on as usual.” The jackets and winter apparel are to be delivered in December, according to the departmental schedule. “It is a sudden change in weather. Winter has come early and this has created these problems,” he maintains. The spokesman adds that the department will deliver warmer uniforms to the whole force within a week. By the time the weather turns harsh, policemen will have possession of jackets as per schedule, which is mid December.
Welfare and Finance Additional IG Tahir Mosab reveals the winter jacket will be black in colour and assures it will be delivered soon. When asked if there was a delay in procurement and delivery, he refused to comment.
Some police officers and media reports have blamed former Punjab IGP Mushtaq Sukhera for not considering the jackets/jerseys for winter when approving the new uniform.
Talking to The Express Tribune, Sukhera refutes these claims. He says the winter clothing was approved and this fact is also documented. According to their approved design, a vest was provided for chilly weather, while there was a jacket for harsh cold weather.
Sukhera also says the uniform has been changed after thorough discussions and with the consent of 72% of field police officers. He adds it has also been done on the basis of research by experts.
“They had considered four parameters such as climate, maintenance, comfort and aesthetic value. After the consent of police officers, it was sent to the government for approval. Many forces, including the Pakistan Army and Rangers, have changed their uniforms in the past. What is wrong if the police also does?” He adds the old black shirt and khaki pant uniform was forcefully implemented overnight during the first martial law.
Sukhera adds the propaganda against the police is by those officers who are against change and want to make little effort. “Police officers who had reservations regarding this uniform should create a better one.”
Published in The Express Tribune, November 15th, 2017.