Inspector General Police (IGP) Sindh AD Khawaja on Tuesday called for a change in laws inherited by Pakistan from the British colonial era in order to improve the efficiency of policing.
Addressing a joint press conference at the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the IGP spoke extensively about the challenges faced by the Sindh police force.
Khawaja raised questions about the efficacy of colonial-era laws, claiming that they must be changed in order to enable the police force to serve society.
"The first thing we need to do to make the police a viable institution is to change the law," he said.
"When an institution is created, the purpose of its creation is made clear, there are rules and regulations set down for it. My question is, if society expects us to fight 21st century crime, why are we using laws from 1861?"
"The 1861 law was created by the British. They used that law to create a police 'force' not a police 'service'. It was simply a tool for them to make sure that the people of the subcontinent abide by the rules of their enslavement," he explained.
Khawaja appealed to the Chamber of Commerce to play its part "and help us change this law, and turn it into a law that helps the people."
How the police force was 'crippled'
Talking about the general perception that the police force needs the Rangers as a crutch to function effectively, the IGP said, "We need to understand how this force was brought to a stage where it seems 'crippled'."
Khawaja spoke about the police force's decline after 1995 and 1996.
"As a citizen of Karachi, I witnessed the time when the bloodshed carried over from the '80s was being eradicated between 1995 and 1996 single-highhandedly by the police. Once that operation was executed successfully, without help from the Rangers or the army, it was turned into a political game," he claimed.
"Notable police officers were killed on the streets and in the mosques of Karachi. Society was silent [over the killings] at the time. It saw for itself two or three police assassinations every day but said nothing," he remarked.
"Hundreds of police officers were killed and their killers roamed comfortably in the corridors of power," the IGP said.
"The Karachi police lost all its morale. Officers that had once brought peace to the city by putting their own safety at stake went around hiding their faces," he lamented.
"They were not ready to wear their police uniforms to and from work because they feared getting killed. This was the situation that crippled the police and brought it to this level," he added.
"But what happened has happened, we cannot dwell on the past and remain crippled," he said.
"There is a lot that cannot be seen, the picture is not clear. We are to blame for some of it, as we do not always make our perspective clear to the society," he said, speaking about about the communication gap between the police and society.
"Recently, the whole country has battled terrorism. On one hand, our army, Military Police, Rangers and police personnel are under attack; on the other, sectarian killings still occur. In all instances, it has been the police that has captured criminals and brought them to justice. I can say this with full confidence," he asserted.
"Even today, the police are working day and night to bring peace to the city. It is not that we do not have any standing in this city in the current circumstances," he added.
"Let us all come together and think of solutions. I have told you the tale of the past 150 years, but if the law does not change, the story of the next 150 years will also be the same," he said.