KP Lawmakers want govt to withdraw police’s ‘unprecedented’ powers

Published June 1, 2021
The lawmakers insisted that the incidents of the misuse of powers by the police targeting both people and assembly members were on the rise. — AFP/File
The lawmakers insisted that the incidents of the misuse of powers by the police targeting both people and assembly members were on the rise. — AFP/File

PESHAWAR: Treasury and opposition members in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly were unanimous on Monday in advocating withdrawal of the police’s ‘unprecedented’ powers under the KP Police Act, 2017, to check their excesses.

They said the police should be answerable to the chief minister instead of the inspector general of police.

The lawmakers insisted that the incidents of the misuse of powers by the police targeting both people and assembly members were on the rise.

Speaker Mushtaq Ahmed Ghani, who chaired the session, suspended agenda for the day and allowed the house to debate the police’s excesses and misconduct in the province.

Say police should be answerable to CM instead of IGP

Member of the ruling PTI from Bajaur tribal district Ajmal Khan complained that SHO of Khazana police station, Peshawar, Ibad Wazir behaved badly with him on Saturday.

He said SHO Ibad Wazir harassed him, two police constables deployed as his guards, and family members on Charsadda Road.

“Though I informed them that I am an MPA and guards are police personnel, the SHO snatched official guns from them and took them and my driver to the police station,” he said.

Mr Ajmal also moved a privilege motion against the SHO. The chair referred it to the privilege committee of the house for detailed discussion.

Another PTI MPA, Asia Khattak, said her family members, too, suffered the police’s misbehaviour last year.

“The overstepping of powers by police official has become a common practice,” she said.

The lawmaker said if the police weren’t to stop misusing powers, then the old law under which they were answerable to the chief executive was far better.

Participating in the debate, Jamaat-i-Islami member Inayatullah Khan said the police were empowered to make them politically neutral and accountable.

Mr Inayatullah, who was a cabinet member in the last government and was part of the police reforms exercise, claimed that the Police Act was not implemented in letter and spirit.

“When we’re empowering the police, a senior bureaucrat told me that politicians will have to face the repercussion of providing the police with unbridled powers,” he said.

He added that the bureaucrats had warned the government that the police would become ‘another army’ after securing unlimited powers under the KP Police Act, 2017.

“Now, those fears have become a reality as more and more incidents of the misuse of power by the police and their non-cooperative attitude are coming up,” he said.

The MPA said the gap between lawmakers and law-enforcement agencies personnel was widening, which was not good sign for the law and order situation in the province.

PTI member Babar Saleem Swati said the house had empowered the police in the people’s ‘larger interest’ and not to disrespect its members.

He said the time had come to review the police law and curtail the police’s powers.

The lawmaker said the police’s misbehaviour and misuse of powers by them showed the failure of the force’s top bosses.

Parliamentary leader of ANP Sardar Hussain Babak said if leader of the house (chief minister) couldn’t act against the police, then why the MPAs were highlighting the police’s brutalities on the floor of the house.

“We need to amend the Police Act and withdraw unprecedented powers from the police to make them answerable to the chief minister,” he said.

Labour minister Shaukat Yousafzai informed the house that the government had already formed a committee for police reforms. He said it was the responsibility of the police chief and his department to check the excesses of their personnel.

He said the reforms committee would present recommendations to the government soon.

The chair adjourned the session until today (Tuesday).

Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2021

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