The fact that every police station in Karachi has a price that can be paid to land the ‘most-coveted’ post, that of an SHO, shows just how deep corruption runs within our law-enforcement departments. According to a report in this paper, all of the 104 police stations in Karachi have a fixed rate that every aspiring SHO must pay to get appointed. The rates in every station vary according to how lucrative each police station is in terms of generating bribes and earning from other cutbacks. For example, all the police stations in Lyari according to the report, have a fixed ‘rate’ of Rs1 million because, perhaps, the police are getting a cut from the numerous gambling dens operating in the area. This shows that it is counterproductive for the police to put an end to such criminal activities since it will dampen their income as well. As long as gambling dens, criminal hideouts and other such elements continue to thrive, then the lucrative business of appointing SHOs in exchange for a bribe will continue as well.
Apart from the basic economics of this trade, the situation is worsened by the fact that the SHOs are transferred very frequently. This problem exists from the top-down and persists across Sindh. As soon as the government appoints a new inspector general — the police chief for the entire province — those close to him end up getting appointed at the most profitable police stations. A mixture of kinship and bribes gets the interested officer his favourite police station and he uses this posting to generate as much income as possible until the time comes for his next posting.
Frequent transfers mean that police officers are unable to give any long-term commitment to their jobs. They are unable to understand the areas within their jurisdictions and its crime trends and are, therefore, unable to take any long-term steps to reduce crime rates. More importantly, the SHOs know that their frequent transfers will absolve them of all responsibility and accountability for nabbing criminals and this contributes further to the deteriorating crime rate in the city.
Published in The Express Tribune, August 13th, 2014.
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