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Supporting the elite, police also have their favourites

April 22, 2013

It is common knowledge that the degree of harshness in the treatment meted out to a criminal in Pakistan by the police is directly related to the status and power held by the criminal. The way former president Gen (retired) Pervez Musharraf fled on April 18 from the Islamabad High Court, without facing any hurdles despite the court orders to arrest him, is evidence of such inequality.

This was not the first time the police showed loyalty to the powerful instead of upholding the law. The police have a history of favouring the elite and sidestepping their orders, such as when they failed to arrest former Member of National Assembly of the PML-N, Anjum Aqeel, and real estate tycoon Riaz Malik and his son Ali Riaz.

However, police treatment is not consistent for all status holders. When it considers arresting someone, it does so, sometimes without even waiting for official orders.

Such an incident occurred when the chief justice of Pakistan was arrested during Musharraf's rule; the police jumped into action without any official written orders and manhandled the CJ, eager to satisfy those sitting in the corridors of power.

It was on November 3, 2007, over five years ago, when the capital police imprisoned the judges in their official residences along with their families.

However, a few hours before this, the then Senior Superintendent of Police (Security) Taimour Ali Khan, who was also the SSP (Operation) Islamabad, had been removed for refusing to put the judges under house arrest without an official written order.In typical style, he was removed for refusing to obey orders, and the newly appointed SSP followed the instructions in letter and spirit without any qualms.

Likewise, in November 2012, the leader of the opposition in the Balochistan Assembly, Yar Mohammad Rind, was arrested from the Supreme Court’s building immediately after his bail application was rejected.

A similar situation was faced by Superintendent of Police Nadeem Hassan after Anjum Aqeel escaped from police custody in July 2011.

Anjum Aqeel was wanted by the Shalimar police in connection with cases registered in February 2010 for land fraud. The police delayed his arrest until the courts took notice and strictly directed the police to arrest him.

Fearing court proceedings against them, the police acted, but Anjum Aqeel surrendered himself at the FIA’s office.

When the former MNA was being transported to the Shalimar police station, an organised group attacked the police, helping Anjum Aqeel escape.

Taking notice of the escape, the interior minister directed the senior police officials to book and arrest all the policemen involved, including the SP. However, the SP was still at the FIA building when the police was attacked, as the Station House Officer (SHO) Shalimar had been transporting the detained MNA.

The Inspector General of Police tried to take strict action against the SP by claiming that the SP was responsible, but the SP’s colleagues resented it stating that the SP was not even present at the time of the attack. Thus no action could be initiated against the SP.

However, the police do show loyalty to certain influential people as well.

This loyalty was displayed by the capital police on June 23, 2012, when a team of Rawalpindi Police and Anti-Corruption Department arrived in Islamabad to detain Malik Riaz Hussain.

The team, comprising 22 members of the Rawalpindi anticorruption department and police, came to the Aabpara police station to complete legal formalities.

Any police team operating in the limits of another police station needs to inform the police station of its arrival and the reason behind it. The Rawalpindi police had come to conduct a raid at the house of Malik Riaz.

In response, the Aabpara police informed its seniors about the presence of the raiding team. The seniors asked the Aabpara police to delay the raiding team and on their direction, the team was detained at the Aabpara police station.

Shortly after, the senior police officers arrived at the police station in person, including the then senior superintendent of police (SSP) and a superintendent of police (SP). Sources said the seniors started abusing their subordinates for allowing the raiding team entry in the area.

The senior officers categorically refused to give the team permission to raid, claiming to see a warrant. Later, they registered a criminal case against the raiding team.

The Circle Officer of Anticorruption Department Tanveer Shahzad and Deputy Superintendent of Police Civil Lines Malik Tariq were booked under Pakistan Penal Code-186 (obstructing public servants from discharging their public duty) and PPC-353 (criminal force to deter public servant from discharge of duty).

After booking the raiding team, the police squad of two top police officers, under the supervision of an SP, escorted the team outside the limits of Islamabad and forced them to go back to Faizabad.

Similarly, on December 9, 2010, the capital police deployed a contingent of 22 commandos armed with sophisticated weapons, around Malik Riaz Hussain’s house.

The deployment was made to prevent the Rawalpindi police from raiding the house and arresting Ali Riaz, son of Malik Riaz, in connection with the killings during a racing event on December 6, 2010.

The deployment of commandos was made after the Rawalpindi police raided Malik Riaz Hussain’s house on December 6, 2010, without informing the Aabpara police.