The poor police

Ali Syed April 21, 2010

Recently, I made a visit to the police station in Gizri. The side mirrors of my car had been stolen so I went to get an FIR registered for them. This isn’t going to be one of those rants about how the police behaved with me or how much compensation they asked for to do their job. In fact, they were quite cooperative and quick about it. What I did notice though, were the conditions that these people had to work in.

The furniture seemed like it had been bought right off from a teen dabbay wala, while the rest of the place had a very antiquated feel to it. Perhaps they were going for the ‘We are as the white man left us’ feel. Not a single computer was in sight. I am sure they have one though. I hope they have one. I mean, how can an office work without one in this day and age?

I understand that we don’t live in an affluent country, and that there are more pressing issues like poverty, unemployment and terrorism for the government to worry about before caring to improve the aesthetics of their buildings. But then again, and this part hurts my head when I think about it, there are other government buildings out there that do not share this state. In fact, they don’t seem like they share anything with other places in this country. It wouldn’t be fair to call them buildings. That would be an insult. So for my purpose I shall refer to them as ‘palaces’.

The president has one, so do the prime minister and all the other high ranking officials. I don’t have one, so it might sound like sour grapes. Maybe it is. Nonetheless, it is worthwhile to note that while the most minor discrepancies in our working conditions can cause annoyance, how do we expect the police or any other employee in the government to do their tasks properly and without complaints?


Shahzada Sultan | 12 years ago | Reply On Supporting the Police: There are more important reasons for supporting the police than just sympathy born of their current targeting by the terrorists. While this approach sounds emotive and imbued with a sense of choice, the rational grounds every society has to base its case for supporting its law-enforcement machinery go far beyond this emotive, and choose-able reaction to a well-considered and logical principle which offers no alternative. The fabric of a society simply fails to bear the weight of lawlessness, and caves in before an absence of the rule of law. The absence of the rule of law can be achieved, inter alia, by maligning and demonising the law-enforcement in particular and the criminal justice system in general. And this is what has happened with the people of Pakistan. We have lapsed into a permanent state of mind fraught with a gross hatred and mistrust of our protectors, the police and the courts. Years of neglect, abuse and corruption, using the words of a leading police manager, have led to the plight of a police service whose members are ill-equipped, under-paid, ill-trained, hated and largely void of adequate motivation. I am not putting all blame on forces outside the police itself; police leadership obviously bears part of the responsibility. But, to imagine that in a country where constitution itself has been abrogated and thrown to the winds with a bizarre pattern and where general inequality has generated a class-ridden society, expecting police which is just an arm of the executive to be independent, and expecting its leadership to be leading from the front with confidence is probably asking too much. Genuine cooperation, confidence and trust of its wards is what every police officer lacks. Even those fresh graduates who join the police with an enthusiasm to serve and deliver are the recipient of this long-standing dislike right from the day one of their career, without having done anything wrong, and by just being a member of a hated organisation. Therefore, it is time to shun this self-destructives state of mind which views the police organisation as essentially evil, corrupt and incorrigible. Not every uniformed police officer is corrupt and ill-behaved. We must not carry a general, diffuse sense of dislike against the organisation but distinguish between those who are helpful and those who are not, and then demand reformation. The performance of a public service organisation like police hinges heavily upon a willing cooperation from the public. No police can perform its functions fully and successfully without the participation, cooperation and trust from the people it is trying to serve and protect. And it is impossible to deliver when constantly under a cloud of suspicion and mistrust. True, police officers are trained professionals, and expected to maintain a professional conduct and cool demeanour, but they are also essentially men and women like you and me, and have the same social, personal and psychological needs as you and I do. When they err, they also deserve to be viewed with a little indulgence and with a benefit of the doubt. More so as we all have a stake in the good and successful performance of this organisation. The criminal justice system is like the immune system of a society which is activated as soon as infections like crime and violations of rights enter a body politic by the unlawful actions of individuals. And law-enforcement is a key component of this system. Therefore, I am tempted to conclude that anything that weakens or destroys this immune system will interfere seriously with the health and sanity of a society, which is precisely what is happening now: just see the painful examples of you and me lynching and burning robbers in broad day-light, or politically motivated groups deciding on a course of target killings to suppress and quell dissent and difference of opinion. Police are a great instrument we can employ for conflict resolution in addition to fighting crime. But, someone has to revisit the role and model for policing we have today. We need to own our police up first, and then we can step in to work with them. Approaching this task with a view to rehabilitating a bunch of brutes is not a right mental attitude. They are not from the Mars; they are from among us. Empowering your law-enforcement is the only way you can help protect your society. You simply cannot leave them out there to their own tactics. Every society bears a basic responsibility to provide for, support, guide, monitor, supervise and stand with its law-enforcement.
Zohaib Khan | 12 years ago | Reply Salam.. The Article is extremely well written and presented.. not only it provides us with the other side of the Picture but also gives us a different way to look at things.. indeed a master piece... not once did i got bored while reading the article.. can i contact you some other way ... like an email or contact no.? it would be really helpful ... thanks..
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