LAHORE, Aug 28: Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said on Tuesday the government has decided to recruit 4,000 ex-servicemen on contract basis to further improve the law and order in Lahore and provide a peaceful atmosphere to citizens.
He said these retired army men would perform their duties in coordination with the police to check street crime in the provincial metropolis.
He directed the home secretary to immediately initiate the recruitment process and take all necessary steps on emergent basis in this regard.
The chief minister said this while presiding over a high-level meeting held to review law and order situation, according to a handout.
The handout said giving approval to the recruitment of ex-servicemen, the chief minister told the meeting that effective control of street crime was of utmost importance, and for the purpose the government would benefit from the services of retired army men.
However, a senior police officer said the ex-servicemen would replace the static police guards deployed at different places and the policemen relieved of such duties would be sent back to their professional work.
He told Dawn the retired soldiers would be hired for the Punjab Constabulary Battalion Seven (7), but they would report to the Lahore police authorities for guard duties.
The officer said permanent deployment of policemen for guard duties had created an acute shortage of police for crime fighting and other field work.
He said the former soldiers, who were being hired for not more than two years, would perform security duties at all government buildings and sensitive places.
Asked why the provincial government didn’t recruit young people instead of hiring retired soldiers who were already getting state benefits, the officer said their contracts would not be extended after recruitment of regular constables and completion of their one-and-a-half year training.
About the initiative, DIG (Operations) Rai Muhamamd Tahir told this reporter that the decision had been taken in the backdrop of deployment of 4,000 policemen for security of official and private places, resulting in shortage of cops for regular duty.
He said with each passing day the demand for police deployment for security (guard) duties was increasing, causing a shortage of force at police station level.
He said as he demanded immediate repatriation of the policemen being used as guards, the provincial government decided to hire ex-servicemen to immediately fill the gap. Regular recruitment in police department would have taken longer, besides burdening the exchequer, he added.
The DIG said preference would be given to retired army commandoes in recruitment as they were better trained for the job.
Meanwhile, the CM, during the meeting, ordered establishment of Anti-Crime Helpline for immediate redressal of public complaints, saying a report be submitted to him about the project within seven days, in consultation with the Punjab Information Technology Board chairman.
Shahbaz said the prosecution process with regard to hardened criminals should be further expedited and cases be submitted to the relevant courts so that the culprits could be awarded punishment without any delay.
He also sought weekly report on various cases from the prosecution secretary.
He directed police to chalk out a comprehensive strategy to deal with old cases and ordered the IG and Lahore CCPO to submit detailed progress reports regarding action taken on such matters within seven days.
He directed legislators to review the performance of police stations established in their respective constituencies and submit a report to him in this regard in the next law and order meeting.
The chief minister also issued instructions for activating the Citizen Police Liaison Committee.
He said betterment at lower level in police was needed to bring about a positive change in ‘Thana culture’.
MPA Shuja Khanzada informed the meeting that process of imparting training to Punjab police officers in collaboration with Turkey was continuing and more officers were visiting Turkey for necessary training next month.