LAHORE: Civil bureaucracy and police were on Friday asked, after nearly two decades, to immediately start functioning hand in hand for improving the fast deteriorating governance while Special Branch and information technology would be used to monitor this arrangement.
The unison was ordered by Chief Secretary Azam Suleman Khan during his first meeting with the entire civil and police bureaucracy at the Civil Secretariat. He said those found not abiding by the orders would be proceeded against sternly as this was necessary for fast improving governance slipping out of the hands of the government.
Police have been working independent of the civil bureaucracy ever since the introduction of the Police Order 2002, resisting tooth and nail any attempt to bring them back under the control of ‘baboos’ in any manner.
Officials who attended the meeting claimed that the orders to join hands did not mean that police were being placed under the control of bureaucracy. They were made to realise in the meeting that the governance could not improve without their total cooperation and they would be monitored through police Special Branch (undercover) as well as by digital means. They said IGP Shoaib Dastagir sat with the chief secretary when he gave the directions to all the regional police officers (RPOs), district police officers (DPOs), commissioners and deputy commissioners from the Civil Secretariat through a video link. All administrative secretaries also attended the conference.
While reviving the pre-2002 administrative model, the chief secretary made it clear in categorical terms that no-one failing to work jointly would be tolerated.
Police resisted bureaucrats since 2002; officials claim new order doesn’t mean placing police under bureaucracy
“I will personally monitor the arrangement and sort them out those not abiding by the orders. I have picked you all but will proceed against those not delivering jointly,” he warned, adding “you will feel my presence in your office through Special Branch and information technology.
The officials said that as per the directions, the RPOs would work hand in hand with divisional commissioners, DPOs with DCs, and SPs/SDPOs with ACs. They were ordered to hold joint meetings twice a week for better understanding, coordination and ironing out hurdles in their work.
The chief secretary said he was starting to visit divisional headquarters with the IGP to ensure the ordered cooperation and overall performance of the police and administrative officers, to give them guidance and sort out their problems to meet the governance challenges.
The field officers were asked to pay attention to service delivery, transparency and good governance. Other directions were to ensure punctuality, meet people for 90 minutes every day at a fixed time without fail to resolve their problems and make public their activities on social media for accountability and transparency.
They were asked to entertain parliamentarians’ lawful requests. In case of any clash with government policy and rules, they should seek guidance of their seniors, but give relief if possible through their discretionary powers.
The RPOs and divisional commissioners and DPOs and DCs were asked to hold monthly meetings with the parliamentarians of their areas for resolving their problems. They should also hold ‘genuine’ open kutcheries regularly as Special Branch personnel would be there to detect ‘touts’ helping produce such fake gatherings. All the commissioners and RPOs were directed to compile lists of officers/officials not required.
They were ordered to prominently display regular meeting hours and adopt measures to ensure people’s direct access to officers without interference of staff at sub-offices at tehsil level.
The DPOs and DCs were directed to improve traffic at any cost, discourage wrong parking and jointly remove encroachments without caring for the rank and file of the encroachers.
“Pay attention to media reports and correct yourself in their light,” the chief secretary said.
The officers were also asked to supervise auction in wholesale fruit and vegetable markets. All the RPOs and commissioners should do the same at least twice a week so as to control inflation.
“This is a very serious governance issue and no negligence would be tolerated,” he said.
Mr Khan asked the Punjab Information Technology Board (PITB) to arrange for performance dashboards of the field bureaucracy (police and administration).
Finally, he ordered all administrative secretaries to ensure service delivery and conduct field visits to find out any shortcomings. They should also daily meet general the daily at a fixed time for 90 minutes to listen to their woes.
Published in Dawn, December 7th, 2019