Dawn News

Pakistan must revamp police: US study

Members of the police commando take part in an exercise session at police lines in Lahore July 3, 2012. — Photo by Reuters

WASHINGTON: Faced with mounting violence, Pakistan needs to push ahead reforms of its police force, which lacks the training, equipment and political will to be effective, a new study said.

In a lengthy report, a commission set up by the New York-based Asia Society called for Pakistan to step up police training and carry out structural reforms to boost the force's skills and reduce corruption.

“High crime rates throughout the country, relatively low conviction rates of prisoners on trial and heightened concerns about instability spilling over from Afghanistan indicate that there is an urgent and critical need to invest in and reform Pakistan's law enforcement infrastructure,” the report said.

The study, due to be released on Monday, said that criminals and Islamic extremists have increasingly colluded and evaded a police force hampered by “severe deficiencies” in technology and training.

Pakistan’s military and Inter-Services Intelligence agency have historically been major centers of power. But the report said the police hold primary responsibility for law and order.

“Shifting all the blame onto the police force, whether done by the public, media or government, is unfair and unproductive,” the report said.

Pakistan’s police system “simply is not structured to reward good behavior, as merit-based opportunities for professional advancement are scarce, low pay is the norm and a lack of support and resources compels even many well-intentioned officers to misuse their authority in order to survive,” the report said.

Hassan Abbas, the commission's project director and a professor at the National Defense University in Washington, said international assistance could help. Britain and the United States have both been assisting police reform.

“However, the overall funding for these projects is no match for the resources provided to Pakistan for anti-terrorism operations throughout the last decade, very little (if any) of which ever reached police institutions because it was so largely geared toward the defense sector,” he said.

“Both are important needs, but a balanced approach is needed to help Pakistan tackle internal and external challenges more effectively.”

Pakistan has received more than $18 billion in US aid, mostly for its military, since it agreed to support the US-led war in Afghanistan after the September 11, 2001 attacks.

The country in recent years has been torn by violence, with extremists carrying out attacks in major cities, militant cells holed up in lawless border areas and an ethnic insurgency raging in Balochistan.

Pakistan’s then military ruler Pervez Musharraf in 2002 issued orders to set clear rules for the police, but the reform quickly lost steam.

The Asia Society study called for the implementation of the 2002 reforms, along with an overhaul of hiring practices, improvements in working conditions and the establishment of an independent authority to assess complaints of police misconduct.

The commission recommended the training of anti-terrorism investigators at each police station, along with special units with direct access to data from private cellular telephone operators.

The report also called for training on protecting the rights of women, children and minorities, a frequent source of concern, and efforts to recruit more women police officers.

Separately, the study called for special efforts to recruit local youth as police in Baluchistan, the southwestern province where insurgents rose up in 2004 to demand greater autonomy.

The report said that police should be put in charge of investigating charges of extrajudicial killings in Balochistan and that Pakistan should restrict the roles there of the paramilitary Frontier Corps and intelligence agencies.

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Comments (20) Closed

Ishrat sa
Jul 22, 2012 05:21pm
This has just been realized today...lol ...
Jul 22, 2012 06:16pm
If it is understood where Pakistan stands today, it should not be hard to visualize its best options. I think, Jamaat Islami sounds quite clear in its mind about this issue.
Nadeem Ahmed
Jul 22, 2012 06:59pm
How about we start with removing Afghans including refugees and others from Pakistan, They have no love for Pakistan, they come over, commit crimes and escape back to Afghanistan. Until our borders are secure, the country will never be secure. We have millions of illegals in Pakistan, especially the main cities of Karachi and Lahore, illegals come in from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Kurdish, and of course the largest is the Afghan population, they take jobs from the local population, they get help from the UN and other NGOs, they get help from their relatives overseas, they commit crimes or otherwise take over business from locals like cloth business etc, they pretend to be Pashtun so everyone calls them Khan sahib, but they are not Pashtun from Pakistan, they are Afghans fooling our public and officials, the cops take bribes and leave them alone, however the people are fed up and want some action against the Afghans first and then all others in Karachi etc.
Adil Jadoon
Jul 22, 2012 06:18pm
Hardly news for anyone living in Pakistan! the Police are there to protect the rich and powerful while terrorizing the common man. Police and the Land department are the most corrupt in the country and there can be no justice or security without revamping them. PPP and PML have no intentions or need to do this as they are part of the problem not the solution And earlier the Pakistani people realize this and not vote for them the earlier we will actually be doing something to solve our problems.
Saad (DXB)
Jul 22, 2012 04:40pm
Wow.. I didn't know commandos had big pot bellies as shown in the picture in this article.. I guess i am more used to seeing the Brilliant SSG commandos on PTV and other new articles.. Police Commandos have a long way to play catch up i guess
Jul 22, 2012 07:04pm
In my opinion a large number of police force members are deployed on VIP or protecting the elite political figures and their families and the taxpayers pay the cost for this special previldge.Very few are left to tackle the investigation of crime or protect ordinary citizens. It is built in the culture of our political system.They expect it as a right to have three four police guard vehicles in the front and same numbers at the rear to impress others of their status.secondly citizens can help to pass on any suspicious activity in their vicinity and contact a unique telephone no of police force to pass on information of such suspects.
Naveed Lotia
Jul 22, 2012 04:58pm
I wonder if anyone in Islamabad is going to pay attention to these recommendations, which are long, long overdue?
Jul 26, 2012 02:08pm
Thanks Mr. Ahmad, you are 100% correct, but who will take action against these people???
Jul 22, 2012 03:33pm
I couldn't agree more. If I have to identify many sources of evil in pakistan Poor Police performance should be on top. Once they have a strict law enforcements most of the problems should be eliminated. Just look around the world the countries that are growing and prospering one common element is rule of law, which is still a joke in Pakistan.
Jul 22, 2012 02:42pm
Brazil, Colombia, Mexico crimes are no near to crimes committed in Pakistan but they have been able to sustain these crimes very successfully. Pakistan Police need to learn lessons from these countries. Need Special Force and Hi Tech devices to tackle modern day crimes. Focus need in Cyber crime, Surveillance, Intelligence gathering as well.
Agha Ata (USA)
Jul 22, 2012 02:49pm
I can tell you how to start changing the police. (Commandos may be ok, but it is the common policeman I am talking about) And please readers, do say a word or two in your commenst, if you agree with me. Thank you. Start the change from his feet. Give a police man good shoes, respectable, and instruct him to polish them often. 2) Give him a good uniform, and instruct him to respect it and to press it before he comes out. 3) Tell him to have modest moustache, if he must. 4) Make him have his hair cut every week, crew cut, not the one the heroes used to have in cheap Indian movies in 1940’s. 5) Send him to the parade ground for at least 6 hours every week to make sure he walks, sits, stands like police a officer, not like am unemployed vagabond, a run away school boy, or like a a lost cow. 6) Teach him to respect poor women, just as much as he respects the Begums in a car. The poor woman is not less respectable. 7) Teach to be polite to every body, even to a criminal. Now you can go ahead and train him professionally for anything you want. Thank you!
Jul 22, 2012 08:40pm
upgrade equipment (required badly), upgrade training, and yes, salaries !!! you cannot pay peanuts to the people you trust with security of the society. Liase with other nations on training education and information. a big, and I mean, big overhaul is required, don't go far, talk to UAE, look at the way they have establish their system.
Jul 22, 2012 09:37pm
Do you really think politicians with all the conflict of interest at heart will allow Police to do its job. You need to first get rid of the politicians who think they are above the law and anyone misusing the law should be convicted with hard punishments. No matter what ever training you impart on the policeman, they cannot do their job if the politicians keep thinking they are above the law, Yousuf Raza Gillani is great example of PM's who failed to uphold the law and constitutional responsibility and terms of his oath as PM hence was shown the door by the Supreme Court of Pakistan.
Jul 22, 2012 09:55pm
We need political stability and social l reform. No amount of police no matter how trained it is can protect people from killing each other if there rampant corruption and poverty within a country. USA advise other countries like a bad doctor whatever your problem is you get pain killer. USA copy paste it's policy and apply it on any country without total disregard for culture and social values. More well trained police concept failed in South America and will never work in Pakistan easy.
Jul 22, 2012 09:57pm
US should stop investing in Pakistan's military. It has given them nothing. 18 billion USD if spent on law enforcement agencies would have provide better results.
Jul 22, 2012 10:57pm
" '... low pay is the norm and a lack of support and resources compels even many well-intentioned officers to misuse their authority in order to survive,' the report said." We have a neighbor who brought his family to the US from Afghanistan -- man and wife, two sons and two daughters. They came (with legal papers) from Kabul, through Lahore to Islamabad, then to the US. In Kabul he had been beaten by the Taliban with iron rods. The sons had received religious school, the daughters had none. In Islamabad, he took his little daughter to a street market to buy some fruit. He was approached by a policeman and told to go with him, to a spot where no one could hear. (Apparently the policeman noticed his accent.) The policeman demanded money. He pulled some hashish from his pocket and said that he would arrest the man, saying that he had found the stuff on him. My friend told us that he had no choice, but to give some money to the cop. He and his little daughter went back to the family without any fruit. This is exactly how we have heard it from our friend. It is highly offensive, and rightly ought to be. But I hope no one will be offended by the telling of it. Joe
Mrs. Munim
Jul 23, 2012 05:41am
Police reform may be the only answer we have to the current law and order situation. And after the incident of the police tearing the clothes off of a rape victim after she lost her case; my faith in this institution has completely lost its footing.
Jul 23, 2012 07:41am
yes, police should be revamped, that's what USA want out of Pakistan, not to enhance internal security but to provide enough security to their route to Afghanistan. This desire is another bright idea of those criminals in their proxy war named "War on Terror". Hope Pakistan people understand their subterfuge. Sooner is better.
William Nathan
Jul 23, 2012 09:23pm
I agree, basics first as you had said. May I add , strict and equal enforcement of the rule of the law on the Police. How can someone enforce the law, when they are the law breakers themselves. It is like getting the fox to watch the chicken.
Jul 26, 2012 02:01pm
Thank you Mr. Nadeem Ahmad, the worst mistake that Zia Ul Haque made was to allow millions of Afghans to enter Pakistan when he was in power, look how these people have almost destroyed Pakistan. I live in America, and all Afghans I have met HATE Pakistan. The sooner these people are sent back the better for us Pakistanis and Pakistan. Mr.Ahmad is 100% right, when he says all illegals must be deported at once, for the safety of Pakistan. It is a pity that our police force for love of money look the other way when crimes are comitted. Imran Khan is right, when he says that the entire police force must be changed, for law and order to take effect. Akram