LAHORE: More than 300,000 street crimes are reported with the Punjab Police each month, Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT) has stated in its white paper on the provincial government’s performance after one year of coming in to power.
The paper was released by the PAT Central Secretariat on Sunday. A spokesman for PAT said the data had been compiled from electronic media, print media, national and international publications, regional newspapers, police officers and officers from various departments.
It says that the police registered cases of only 25 per cent of the incidents so that the government could claim that crime had gone down. This year has also seen a spike in incidents of kidnap for ransom, the paper says, 12,245 children were kidnapped this year whereas between 11,000 and 12,000 children were kidnapped the previous year. It says FIRs of 22 per cent of kidnap for ransom cases were not registered. There were 7,000 blind murders and 14 people were killed in acts of sectarian violence, it says.
It records a 22 per cent rise in murder and attempted murder cases compared to last year – 6,000 people were killed and there were 22,000 attempts of murder this year.
The paper says 1,534 attacks on polio workers were reported in the province this year. The figure stood at 1,438 last year. Only 2,402 gang-rape cases were registered with the police whereas 6,100 incidents of gang-rape were reported this year. Last year, 5,160 gang-rapes were reported in media while only 2,269 FIRs had been registered. Half of all cases of domestic violence and crimes against women are not reported, it says.
“Punjab dominates all provinces in the crime graph.”
The paper says the Model Town violence on June 17, the Kot Radha Kishen incident on November 4 and the Wagah Border suicide blast on November 2 had brought Pakistan a bad name. It places the onus of responsibility for the incidents on the provincial government. “They exposed the government’s incompetency.”
It accuses the government of hindering investigation into the Model Town violence, which “proves its criminal involvement”.
This year, 25 policemen died in 248 police encounters while 235 suspects were killed in police custody, the paper says.
State of the economy
Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who had promised to “break the begging bowl”, has borrowed Rs850 million this year, the paper says. The mark up for these loans increases each year.
This affects budgets for education, health and other social sectors. “In its seven years in power in the province, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz government has failed to establish a suitable financial management system.”
The paper says that the government’s Sasti Roti programme and mechanical tandoor schemes had adversely affected the Food Department, which had incurred Rs80 billion debts since 2012. The department has to pay a mark up of Rs9 billion each year. “This is why the government has increased the price of wheat flour.”
In order to cosy up to its “blue-eyed” traders, the paper says, the government set aside 0.7 million tonnes of wheat for export.
“The poor have to purchase wheat at exorbitant rates while the grains rot at the government’s stores.”
The PAT has demanded sale of wheat on subsidised rates for poor people and IDPs. Only 17 per cent of the budgets for education and health sectors were released in the first quarter of the financial year. The budget for Rescue-1122 was slashed from Rs1,650 million to Rs1,450 million. This affected the department’s performance. Some of its employees face payment delays, the paper says.
“It is not this government’s priority to save lives… instead it builds roads.”
Deprivation in the south
The white paper says funds allocated for South Punjab have not been utilised and only 25 per cent of the funds have been released so far.
“South Punjab has always been neglected by the government this is why extremism is on the rise in this region.”
MPA Zaeem Qadri said the paper was ridiculous and carried baseless stories. He said the PAT should have verified facts before issuing it. “It is a fact that the Punjab has less crime compared to other province,” he said. Similarly, Punjab’s development programmes are unprecedented, he said.
Merit and transparency were the government’s hallmark.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 8th, 2014.