The Punjab Police, that had demanded a higher allocation, was left dissatisfied with the government’s budget announcement that came on June 11. Instead of the requested Rs155 billion, the department was provisioned a sum of Rs128 billion, which Punjab Police took with a grain of salt, terming the allocation insufficient.
Ninety per cent of the budget goes to disbursing salaries. “After that, very little is left to invest in improving police performance,” the department claimed.
Last financial year, the police was given a budget of Rs119 billion, but more than Rs132 billion was been spent on the department over the year, for which the government had to sanction a supplementary budget.
According to police sources, out of the Rs128 billion budget, Rs110 billion is to be spent on salaries while the rest will cover fuel, training and other miscellaneous expenditures.
The government allocates Rs550 per citizen in the police’s budget every year, which entails patrolling cities and running the police station system. At present, the Punjab Police has a strength of 218,497 officials, who are responsible for the safety of the province’s population of 120 million.
Making a case for increase in police budget, Punjab Police Inspector General (IG) Khawaja Khalid Farooq said that there is seldom any amount left to spend on training, upgrading weaponry and other activities to bring the department up to pace with modern standards. “Because we can’t afford better training, police forces struggle in certain districts of the province where curbing crime is becoming an uphill battle,” he expressed.
Out of the total budget, more than Rs 117 billion will be given to the police this year, while more than Rs650 million will go to the police under the district government. Per budget documents for the current financial year, an amount of over Rs3.17 billion is set aside for training. Which the IG believes is insufficient, if the police department is to adapt to modern requirements while investing in its human resources.
On the other hand, however, sources claim that the Punjab government has been increasing the police’s annual budget over time but the department has had nothing to show for it in its performance.
Earlier, the Prime Minister had issued instructions calling for a needful change in the attitude of the police, but over five IGs in the province had to changed and decrease was observed in crime rate in the year 2020.
Per police records, a total of 536,000 cases were registered across Punjab in the year 2020. The province experience over 3,275 killings between January 1 and the end of December, while 5,925 people were reportedly injured in various incidents. In addition to that, there were 19 robberies and 13,022 kidnappings of women and children in the province. Over 52 women and children were abducted for ransom while 33,050 cases of rape and 179 cases of gang rape were reported across Punjab.
The year before that, Punjab had emerged as a hub of crime and violence, due to the various incidents of theft, murder and kidnapping that were reported throughout 2019. Statistically speaking, there were 3,594 reports of murder, 9,795 cases of attempted murders, 1,340 incidents of violence, 13,300 kidnappings.
This year, 156 accused were killed and a 152 were injured during 255 police encounters, while 12 police lost their life on duty.
Government sources speaking on conditions of anonymity believe that there hasn’t been any effort by Punjab Police to ensure the wellbeing of its officers, despite previous additions to the budget.
“In cities including Lahore, crime rate has been increasing every day and since the police can’t keep up, it is the citizens that have bear the brunt of it all,” the source told The Express Tribune.
Published in The Express Tribune, June 22nd, 2021.