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Capital City Police would be re-organised in all four provincial capitals and federal capital

From Shamim Ahmed Rizvi, 
Aug 20 - 26, 2001

The President Gen. Pervez Musharraf while chairing a special meeting held to review the progress on police reforms agenda in Islamabad on August 11, expressed his dissatisfaction over the pace of work. He was told that financial constraints were the major hurdle in carrying out the task as about Rs. 5 billion were required to meet the expenses of first phase in the current financial year. While directing the Ministry of Finance to tap all available resources to provide the required funds, the President also set out Oct. 12, 2001 as the date for the task.

By Oct. 12 President wanted to have reorganised police structure as per reform agenda already approved and have separate city police force at least for Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore. These cities as well as other provincial capitals, the President said, have their own dynamics which require a dedicated police force with a different orientation and enhanced training. Addressing the Police Chiefs from the provinces and the Federal Capital, he emphasised that together with economic revival, reforming and restructuring of the Police was an important priority of the government as improvement in the law-enforcement agencies was directly linked to good governance.

Only after two days of these blunt observations of the President, Interior Minister Moinuddin Hyder, announced at a press conference in Islamabad that Police Act 1986 was being drastically amended as per reform agenda to transform the role of the police and this exercise will be completed before Sep. 30. The reorganised police structure including establishment of separate city police in Islamabad, Karachi and Lahore will be operational in Oct. 2001. Some amendment in the 1861 police act have already been made to facilitate the implementation of the devolution plan and the district governments.

The Interior Minister announced that separate prosecution service would be established in each province and federal capital by December 31, this year. "Presently, there are, 1,650 public prosecutors in the country and 1,200 new prosecutors will be inducted to speedily pursue cases in the courts," the Interior Minister said while addressing a Press conference here.

He said "a total of Rs. 5.8 billion would be required for the implementation of police reform plan. Rs. 3.1 billion would be the recurring expenditure on the new police system. The federal government had allocated Rs. 1.9 billion. The provinces have already committed Rs. 837 million and we are asking them to further increase their contribution".

The Police Transformation Plan comprises major ingredients which include establishment of Public Safety Commissions, establishment of separate Prosecution Service, Restructuring of Provincial, Regional and District Headquarters, Capital City Police, separation of Investigation from Watch and Ward.

He said that Rs. 700 million were needed to meet the expenses of 1,334 police stations in the country and government would provide this amount to facilitate the functioning of the police. Over 5,000 police officials were deputed on investigation in addition to their routine duties. This service would also be separated so that investigations were completed in time. About 2,000 more officials would be recruited and they would not be assigned any other work and may be given a mark or a cap of different colour. The District Public Safety Commissions would be established immediately and the process could take next two to three months or as elected members were selected by the respective District Councils.

Highlighting the salient features of the Police Ordinance promulgated by President Pervez Musharraf last Sunday, the Interior Minister said the Capital City Police would be re-organised in all four provincial capitals and federal capital. The Minister said that a change had already started in the recruitment and training of police personnel and merit is being observed very strictly.

For a variety of reasons, no other state institution needs reforms and reorganisation so desperately as police. Firstly, the Police is still regulated and governed by the 19th century law, enacted by the colonial rulers to suit their own colonial needs of subjugation and repression. Secondly, corruption has so deeply crept into its vitals that it is simply futile to expect it to perform as a State institution of an independent and sovereign nation. And thirdly, the political inductions, made during the PML and PPP Governments have cut across its very basis and ruined the element of efficiency, decency and objectivity of the force. There are reports that thousands of anti-social elements were able to join the Police by dint of corruption and political manipulation, one has to fully endorse General Musharraf's stance that reformation and reorganisation of Police is fundamental to good governance. It is an indisputable reality that security of life, honour and property cannot be ensured without an honest, efficient and responsive police force. The previous rulers and their cronies had unfortunately used Police as an instrument of political influence and thus destroyed its basic characteristic of service to the people. It's really time to change the orientation of the Police force and practically attune its objectives and motto to serve the masses, rather than playing into the hands of political elements to promote their selfish designs. The thana culture must come to an end and Police stations should turn into hubs of peace and justice, rather than torture and extortion.