Power with­out prin­ci­ples

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Tariq Khosa

IN a move that is bound to de­mor­alise the highly pro­fes­sional po­lice com­mand, the chief min­is­ter of Khy­ber Pakhtunkhwa has asked the fed­eral in­te­rior min­is­ter to pro­vide Rangers for Pe­shawar's se­cu­rity. This req­ui­si­tion, made with­out tak­ing the in­spec­tor gen­eral of po­lice (IGP) on board, amounts to say­ing that the Pe­shawar po­lice are un­able to cope with law and or­der chal­lenges.

As a na­tion, we have de­vel­oped the habit of look­ing for short cuts. KP went through the worst of times in terms of ter­ror­ism be­tween 2001 and 2013. Yet the po­lice coped with the chal­lenges hero­ically. Even then, no one called for the Rangers.

The let­ter writ­ten by the chief min­is­ter re­flects a strange lack of clar­ity and co­or­di­na­tion within the pol­i­cy­mak­ing cor­ri­dors of power in a prov­ince that has so far been pro­ject­ing the mantra of good gov­er­nance and ef­fec­tive polic­ing. Credit had gen­er­ally been given by the me­dia and civil so­ci­ety where it was due, ie to the lead­er­ship of the nascent political party in power in that prov­ince. So, what is hap­pen­ing be­hind the scenes? Is it a power strug­gle amongst stake­hold­ers who stand to lose au­thor­ity? Is the cor­roded bu­reau­cracy feel­ing pow­er­less against an in­creas­ingly con­fi­dent po­lice com­mand? Are the forces of sta­tus quo try­ing to re­assert their con­trol over the po­lice? Through decades of mis­rule, politi­cians and bu­reau­crats have kept the po­lice un­der their thumb to wield power with­out prin­ci­ples.

The call for the de­ploy­ment of Rangers in Pe­shawar is yet an­other step to­wards the mil­i­tari­sa­tion of the in­ter­nal se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus. In­stead of ad­dress­ing the gaps and in­vest­ing in im­prove­ments in ur­ban polic­ing struc­tures, politi­cians are seek­ing short cuts in fix­ing a prob­lem through a force that is not trained for com­mu­nity polic­ing. To me, it amounts to a creep­ing coup against the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem as a whole.

Suc­ces­sive political and mil­i­tary gov­ern­ments are re­spon­si­ble for weak­en­ing the po­lice as the front­line in­stru­ment of law. The trend started dur­ing the Ayub era in 1958, when the func­tions of bor­der se­cu­rity were with­drawn from the po­lice and handed over to a para­mil­i­tary force that was even­tu­ally named the Rangers. The then IGP West Pak­istan, A.B. Awan, lodged a strong protest and quit his job.

A clas­sic ex­am­ple of ne­glect­ing the de­vel­op­ment of pro­fes­sional ur­ban polic­ing is the case of Karachi. The Rangers were called in for a cer­tain pe­riod and with lim­ited ob­jec­tives in the mid-1990s. Like the prover­bial camel let into the tent, they have not left. Now, they even want to es­tab­lish their own po­lice sta­tion, reg­is­ter FIRs, in­ves­ti­gate cases, ap­pre­hend crim­i­nals and sub­mit charge sheets in courts. They were called in aid of the civil­ian po­lice but have ended up be­ing a par­al­lel po­lice force.

Karachi should have been in­tro­duced to a metropoli­tan polic­ing model by rais­ing the level of po­lice com­mand, en­hanc­ing pro­fes­sion­al­ism and in­tro­duc­ing spe­cial­i­sa­tion. In­stead, cit­i­zens have ended up with the per­cep­tion of a politi­cised, cor­rupt and crim­i­nalised force, thanks to the highly con­tro­ver­sial political set-up that has not al­lowed the fed­eral govern­ment to post a pro­fes­sion­ally com­pe­tent pro­vin­cial po­lice com­man­der. Only yes-men are re­quired by the politi­cians in gen­eral. This also re­flects ad­versely on the prime min­is­ter who ap­points the pro­vin­cial chief sec­re­tary and IGP.

The in­te­rior min­istry has let the Rangers take dom­i­nant pa­trolling and se­cu­rity roles in Is­lam­abad, too. Sim­i­larly, we have seen the Fron­tier Corps in Balochis­tan be­ing di­verted from its orig­i­nal man­date of ef­fec­tive bor­der con­trol to a con­ven­tional polic­ing role. Po­lice ju­ris­dic­tion has shrunk from the en­tire prov­ince in 2007 to about 5pc of the ter­ri­tory to­day. The my­opic sar­dars pre­fer the Levies, a rag­tag mili­tia, over a pro­fes­sional po­lice or­gan­i­sa­tion.

There was some talk re­cently of the de­ploy­ment of Rangers in south Pun­jab for an op­er­a­tion against ter­ror­ists and hard­ened crim­i­nals. The iron man head­ing the prov­ince is too ex­pe­ri­enced not to fore­see the im­pli­ca­tions of such a move. While keep­ing the po­lice un­der his thumb, he has pro­vided re­sources to raise a state-of-the-art coun­tert­er­ror­ism force and also ag­gres­sively, though se­lec­tively, launched the Coun­tert­er­ror­ism Depart­ment. He has also kept the bu­reau­cracy on a tight leash through ef­fec­tive mon­i­tor­ing.

In­stead of build­ing the ca­pac­ity of the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem, politi­cians have re­peat­edly made the mis­take of call­ing upon the civil armed forces and army. Th­ese forces have so far not de­vel­oped the mind­set of be­ing sub­or­di­nate to civil­ian au­thor­i­ties.

The chief min­is­ter of KP is ad­vised not to in­duct civil armed forces in the ur­ban polic­ing role. The an­swer lies in en­hanc­ing the pro­fes­sion­al­ism of the po­lice depart­ment. They have done an ad­mirable job over more than two years. The real is­sue is the tus­sle for power be­tween an elite cadre of ad­min­is­tra­tive ser­vices and the pro­vin­cial po­lice com­mand.

For the sake of the cit­i­zens, who are their real masters, may I urge the bu­reau­cracy and the po­lice of KP to hold their horses and mend fences? They have to rise above their turf bat­tles. The chief min­is­ter knows that it is the new draft po­lice law that is the bone of con­tention. While agree­ing to strin­gent ac­count­abil­ity be­fore elected fo­rums, the po­lice have sought ad­min­is­tra­tive and op­er­a­tional au­ton­omy that has been agreed to by the cab­i­net sub­com­mit­tee and political lead­er­ship.

For the po­lice, my ad­vice is to reach out to those op­pos­ing their au­ton­omy and work as a team for the larger ben­e­fit of the cit­i­zens they serve. Only their pro­fes­sion­al­ism, com­pe­tence, in­tegrity, and ded­i­ca­tion will gain them pub­lic trust and the political lead­er­ship would then not feel the need to in­duct Rangers for po­lice func­tions.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Pakistan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.