This is far from an ideal start PTI supporters must have wished for their party. Reforming the police and empowering the force was one of the things to look forward to after the PTI assumed power.

Expectations were high as the party had claimed to have scored well on the subject as it went about reforming the police system in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa where it has been in power since 2013.

All the projections based on PTI leader and Prime Minister Imran Khan’s intentions, his abilities and his promised non-compromising approach have received an early jolt in the background of a rather unsavoury episode in Pakpattan.

The district police officer of Pakpattan has just been censured and transferred following an instance reportedly involving the ex-husband of Bushra Bibi, who is now married to Mr Imran Khan, and a son and daughter of hers with her former husband, Khawar Fareed Maneka.

The details of the incident have been flashed in the media, sometimes the ‘facts’ cited in one report not tallying with those provided in another. Allegedly at the base of it all is a desire of the habitually privileged that they may always be treated with deference by those ‘there to serve them’.

It could be that some crucial pieces in the puzzle are yet missing but whatever the sequence of the events that led to the summary exit of the DPO, it is quite clear that this was one problem — among a few that have cropped up immediately after Mr Khan’s much celebrated ascent to power — that needed to be diligently avoided or quickly dealt with. This has unfortunately not been the case.

The PTI is a party for reform. It has been pleading passionately about laying to rest the ghosts that have held this country hostage for so long. It does not paint a pretty picture when the name of the party and its leader name is dragged into potentially so embarrassing a controversy as this — must we re-emphasise, so early into the term.

But if these facts as they have been brought out are true, this is a missed opportunity. There it was, a chance for the PTI to prove that it wanted to treat everyone out there with an even hand. A more level-headed tackling of the situation would have prevented the new setup from perpetuating the same attitude where the policemen and other government officials are reduced to appear as puppets for the rulers to tale their frustrations out on.

No amount of sloganeering and vows about ending the VIP culture would have an effect on people if these incidents continue to take place in the ‘new’ Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, August 29th, 2018

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