PESHAWAR: If the idea was to chastise the police for endemic corruption within the department, the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa chief minister chose a bad day to do so, when police together with other law-enforcement agencies were battling militants just to the south of the provincial capital, losing one officer.
And so huffed up was he that when his minister for information, Shaukat Yousafzai, sent him a request on a piece of paper to tone down his verbal tirade against the police, Pervez Khattak countered that what he said was not meant to demoralise the police.“I am telling truth. I am not lying,” he said in his winding speech at the end of a UNDP-funded two-day workshop organised by the police on ‘thana culture’.
The workshop was attended by people from a cross section of society, including academics, journalists, businessmen, traders, judges and lawyers.
The UNDP country director was also present on the occasion.
“This is very demoralising,” a police officer present at the workshop said. “He (CM) had come with preconceived ideas,” he added.
The chief minister did start off by praising the sacrifices of the police and found their performance better than their counterparts in the Punjab, Sindh and Balochistan, despite facing heavy odds.
But then he launched a scathing tirade, criticising the police for corruption. His sharp public derision of the police stunned and embarrassed the police officers sharing the stage with him and those sitting amongst the audience.
Mr Khattak said the people had voted PTI to power to bring about the change and vowed that he would step down if he failed to deliver. He did not set any date for himself.
He said eradication of corruption in government departments including the police was on top of his agenda and that he was taking steps to uproot the menace. He said he had issued guidelines to the departments and officers to take immediate measures or they would be shown the door.
The chief minister said his government was determined to reform the ‘thana culture’ and ‘patwari system’.
He said the workshop recommendations, commendable, would be implemented in letter and spirit but while most of them were demands, no suggestions had come forward on ending corruption. What the chief minister failed to notice was that there were recommendations about accountability and greater public oversight.
Mr Khattak observed that an internal intelligence wing within the police department was the need of the hour to combat terrorism and announced that his government would soon establish one.
He said peace was vital for development and prosperity but wondered why the workshop did not recommend ways and means to end corruption within the police.
He urged the police to come up to the expectations of the people in providing relief and justice, taking actions against the oppressors and reach out to the oppressed. He assured of no political interference in the police transfers and postings but warned that he would intervene to take action against erring officers.
The chief minister said the women police desk would be established within police stations to enable lady police officers come to the rescue of the oppressed women.
He also directed the inspector general of police to take immediate steps to introduce eight hours shift for the police. He announced setting up two model police stations at all the districts level and said that if proved successful, the system would be extended to all the existing police stations in the province.
Mr Khattak said the now-dormant Public Safety Commissions would be revived and strengthened and traffic police would be modeled along the way Motorway Police.
Earlier, Qazi Jamil, a police officer, now working for UNDP, presented final recommendations of the two-day workshop.
The morning sessions were presided over by Senior Minister Sikandar Sherpao and Minister for Auqaf Habibur Rehman.
Both the ministers lauded the sacrifices rendered by the police in the fight against militancy and appreciated the recommendations made by the workshop.
They assured that the recommendations would be implemented in letter and spirit and if needed, necessary legislation would also be made for the purpose.