Sindh IGP

February 10, 2020

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APROPOS the letter ‘Sindh IGP’ (Feb 4). The Sindh IGP’s public statements against the government mirror a mindset of defiance that rejects control by elected representatives. Earlier another retired IG in his letter in these columns, ‘A retired IG’s perspective’ (Jan 21) stated that democratic supervision of the police chief amounted to “political assault on operational and administrative autonomy of the IG.” The situation demands a rational crystalisation of thought on two important issues.

First, the Police Order 2002 is not a universally popular model of policing. This law has incorporated some features of the Japanese model and merged the same with the existing Irish constabulary model.

This has given unprecedented powers to PSP officers and a matching debilitation of the authority of the chief ministers. This has spurred insubordination trespassing into the realm of anarchy and chaos.

The Japanese system has not been recognised as a good model by any other country except Pakistan. In contrast, all progressive societies notably the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, Singapore and Hong Kong have implemented with minor local modifications the London Metropolitan Police model introduced by Sir Robert Peel way back in 1829.

In South Asia, India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh — all of whom share a common colonial legacy with Pakistan — have improved the 1861 Police Act by adapting it to meet the transition to democracy, away from a culture of violent dissent, incessant rallies, dharnas, long marches and political power shows. These nations have achieved exemplary economic progress and political stability by attaining public peace with these reforms.

Second, a police chief’s relationship with elected representatives requires pragmatic rationalisation. In the UK, under the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Act 2011, the police chiefs of London and Greater Manchester are contract employees with no service security.

They are appointed by the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime (MOPAC). The post is advertised and policemen from the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the US can apply.

The mayor sets the performance goals and policies and can force an under-performing police chief to resign or retire at any time. In New York, the police commissioner is appointed by the mayor.

In Pakistan, the IG-political boss equation needs to be encased in a legal framework.

Rafi A. Pervaiz Bhatti

Pennsylvania, USA

Published in Dawn, February 10th, 2020