APROPOS the letter ‘Police officers’ postings’ (May 19). At the outset, the letter reminds me of a famous quote by Sir Robert Mark from the 1970s where the Met police commissioner, while claiming the support of a long tradition of constitutional freedom from political interference, said: “[The] Police are not servants of a government at any level. We do not act at the behest of a minister or any political party, not even the party in government. We act on behalf of the people as a whole.”
The writer has made a factually incorrect comparison between policing in Pakistan and that in the United Kingdom.
It is true that the chief constable is appointed by the police and crime commissioners and is held to account by them, that is done through a well-established process which is fair and transparent and the security of his tenure is ensured. He can be dismissed but not on a whim, as happens in Pakistan.
In my opinion, administrative autonomy is the core issue. The police in Pakistan are paralysed by frequent external interference. Most of the senior, mid-level and even lower-ranking officers are transferred owing to political motives.
The police in the UK or elsewhere do not face any such interference. In the UK, the police have been made accountable to institutions rather than individuals. Transparency in processes is one of the key features in all democracies worldwide; however, it simply does not exist in Pakistan.
In Pakistan, transfers and postings have become a negotiable instrument. Its constant threat hangs like the sword of Damocles.
The venal officer remains at important positions by resorting to politicking and hobnobbing.
Whereas, the honest officers, are generally labelled uncooperative, unhelpful and rigid and often sidelined.
In the recent past, Karachi Police lost hundreds of officers in the line of duty. Many of these officers were targeted and systematically eliminated by the militant wing of the same political party that was controlling the Home Department of Sindh which exercised complete control over police administration.
The government’s primary control over the police should be the law.
It should also have the authority to require conformity by the police to specific publicly announced policies arrived at through a process of consultation.
Other than this the police need to be protected from extraneous interference and from being used to serve personal or political interests.
Former Inspector General of Police
Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2019