SINCE the early 1980s, the police have been combating sectarianism and terrorism, with many sacrificing their lives in the process. It is widely acknowledged that the police serve as both the first and last line of defence. Since 2001, when the terrorism threat escalated in the country, 2,100 police personnel have been martyred and 7,000 left injured.

Ironically, the government has failed to recognise the importance of a professionally trained and well-equipped police force. Perhaps this is due to political considerations that do not align with prioritising the police, even though the rhetoric of modernising the police force remains pretty much intact.

Despite the looming threat of a new wave of terrorism, authorities are preoccupied with visiting injured police officials and attending funerals of

fallen heroes, while the urgent need for adequate funding and equipment persists, as it did two decades ago. This situation is reminiscent of Nero playing the flute while Rome burned.

Instead of relying on conventional methods, the government should consider an out-of-the-box solution, such as acce- lerated promotions based on gallantry. In 1987, an amendment was introduced in the Punjab Civil Servant Act, allowing for such promotions.

This step was taken during a period of heightened sectarian killings in the country and remained in effect until 2006. One single step had resulted in a significant reduction in sectarian violence.

Akhtar Lalayka
Lahore

Published in Dawn, December 6th, 2023

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